Ricky Burns fought through a broken jaw to earn a draw with Ray Beltran in Glasgow
By Adam Norman. Last Updated: 08/09/13 1:59pm
Ricky Burns clung on to his WBO lightweight title after his fight with Ray Beltran controversially ended in a draw.
The champion injured his jaw early on (it later required surgery), was dropped by a left hand in the eighth round and was on the receiving end of a shellacking for much of the 12 rounds.
The majority in attendance feared the belt would be heading back to Mexico but to much surprise scores of 115-113 to Burns, 115-112 to Beltran and 114-114 meant the strap remained with the Coatbridge fighter.
Immediately it was clear the ring rust that was so apparent on his return in May had been blown away, Burns getting his shots off cleanly with his blurring handspeed surprising Beltran in the opener.
Long right hands speared home while left counters to the body hit their target.
Beltran had plenty of success in the second though, unleashing a torrent of lefts and combinations to the head that had the champion covering up on the ropes.
It was a timely reminder for Burns not to telegraph the big right hands, that occasionally made the Scot appear clumsy.
On more than one occasion they landed with simultaneous left hooks, again Burns guilty of pressing the action a little too much against a quality operator capable of causing an upset.
Burns had been expected to keep the fight on the outside but as so often in the past the Scot was more than willing to stand and trade, which suited Beltran just fine.
Burns was hurt in the fourth, Beltran taking advantage of another wild right hand by landing a flush left hook that had the champion spinning backwards, the follow up causing Burns to cover up once more.
It was not the start Burns and his fans had hoped for, with Beltran's confidence growing by the round. The Mexican's ability to cut the ring off meant little respite for Burns as the challenger walked through long, raking jabs.
The sixth belonged to Burns, looking more settled as he popped the shots off at range and for once keeping Beltran off by letting the combinations go.
It was more of the same in the next as Beltran dropped the intensity - for the first time since the opening rounds it was Burns in the centre of the ring dictating the pace, the Mexican apparently content to backpedal.
But it all changed again in the eighth as Beltran caught Burns cold very early in the round with a left hook that dropped the champion, and although he did not appear badly shaken the follow up stiffened Burns' legs.
The Scot survived but the ascendancy had been given back and the next also belonged to Beltran who continued to pile the pressure on with Burns backing into the ropes on numerous occasions.
It was clearly slipping away from the champion as Burns complained of a painful jaw prior to the 10th, and he appeared to be out of ideas as he looked to tie up the challenger at every opportunity.
He needed to get back on the front foot in the penultimate round and while he may have nicked it as Beltran's pace slackened it was far from convincing and it seemed he needed a knockdown at least in the finale to keep hold of his title.
But it was scrappy stuff again and Beltran had plenty left in the locker, unloading the bigger shots with the left hand to possibly edge it.
The silence from the crowd spoke volumes for what had gone before and it only appeared to get louder when the final scores were read out by MC Michael Buffer.