Burns suffered the broken jaw in the second round of his title defence against experienced contender Raymundo Beltran. On the night Burns was very lucky to escape with a draw and many criticisied his performance. That said, being asked to keep competing with a broken jaw is something few sports outside of boxing would ever demand… especially when you consider Burns went on to take even more clean blows to his jaw… and while we can still be concerned about the decision I think any criticism of Burns’ performance has to be somewhat muted. If nothing else it was an incredible display of heart.
Despite the return to training no date, opponent or venue, have been hinted at for Burns return. There was talking of an immediate Beltran rematch but I can’t imagine Beltran will want to sit out of the ring for a considerable time waiting for the bout to materialise.
When he does return it will be a challenging time for Burns. While it is perhaps unfair to criticise him for his performance against Beltran it must be said he was distinctly underwhelming in his bout before that against untested Puerto Rican prospect Jose A Gonzalez. While Gonzalez eventually quit, citing an injured wrist, up to that point he had the beating of Burns, making the Coatbridge man look positively crude.
What was surprising about that performances is that they came after a run of excellent bouts from Burns. He had won his title by outwitting Australian warrior Michael Katsidis, had been virtually punch perfect in outclassing the talented Paulus Moses and then had absolutely destroyed domestic rival Kevin Mitchell. After some fairly uninspiring bouts defending the world title he’d won at 130lbs (although his victory over Roman Martinez to win that belt holds up as one of the best of his career) it looked like Burns was really hitting his stride as a genuine top level talent.
Prior to the Gonzalez bout Burns had left long time promoter Frank Warren for Matchroom. From the outside looking in it’s hard to see why this would have impacted on him; he kept the same trainers and team around him, but the timing suggests some connection. Perhaps it was simply a case of Burns believing the hype after his demolition of Mitchell and thinking he was a power-punching destroyer. Burns isn’t that; at his best he’s a cunning, well-rounded boxer who does the basics very, very well, comes in with smart gameplans and adapts his game to the circumstances in front of him.
Broken jaws are an awkward injury to deal with and one that can seriously impact the rest of a boxer’s career. I hope Burns can not only recover from this but also get back his form of 2011/12. He’s a boxer I’ve always liked and one who has made a mockery of my predictions a number of times. The British boxing scene is a worse place for his absence.