Originally written on The Queensbury Rules  |  Last updated 10/18/14
Scotland’s world-rated lightweight Ricky Burns (at right) faces a tricky assignment this weekend on his return to the Braehead Arena in Renfrewshire, Glasgow, after a short campaign on the road. His opponent, Namibian policeman Paulus Moses, is ranked one place above him with Ring Magazine (Moses holds down 6th spot at 135 lbs. with Burns 7th) and is a former alphabet world titlist at the weight (although it should be noted that the same association had simultaneously awarded two other lightweights a similar distinction). Burns champions the interim version of a separate organisation at present, and while the legitimacy of his title claims and the promotional baloney that comes along with it can be taken with a pinch of salt, the challenge he tackles here probably shouldn’t.

Moses, 28-1 (19), is a thorny proposition. A smooth and rangy boxer-puncher, he holds an impressive stoppage victory over the craggy Ukrainian Andriy Kudriavtsev (who British fans may recall gave John Murray a terse evening’s work in Wigan back in 2010) and a brace of wins over the Japanese duo Yusuke Kobori and Takehiro Shimada.

His single reverse came in his own backyard when he was knocked out by the thickset Venezuelan Miguel Acosta. “Aguacerito,” who pushed the division’s heir apparent, Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios last year, invaded Windhoek, Namibia, in May 2010 and, after making the running for five rounds, crunched Moses with a right hook jammed behind his guard in round 6. Rather alarmingly that night in the Khomas Highlands Moses appeared to sit out the count -- a boxing sin that Burns’s countrymen would candidly refer to as a “bottle job.” Moses could only offer the well-worn fighter’s plea of mitigation -- that an imposter had performed in his name.

Burns, 33-2 (9), exhibited no end of gumption when shooting to prominence 18 months back. Bolstered by raucous Glaswegian support he tallied a sterling win over Puerto Rican banshee Roman Martinez in a junior lightweight contest he was heavily tipped to lose. Dumped onto his pants in the opening session, Burns elected to fight fire with fire en route to a scorching come-from-behind decision win.

Burns wields a sturdy jab, shows good mobility and has a fine engine which allows him to sustain volleys of hooks and uppercuts from first bell to last. The Coatbridge man can hold his head a tad high and is prone to counter hooks when his own power shots -- which he tends to throw a little wide -- miss their mark. This will be the home fighter’s second contest at lightweight. In November, he outhustled divisional stalwart Michael Katsidis over 12 action-packed rounds in another startling victory achieved from long odds.

Moses holds a six inch reach advantage yet is the shorter of the two. Aged 33, he’ll also be the older man by half a decade. Both men appear more comfortable when counterpunching, so it will be interesting to see how the setting affects the pair and which one of them it will coerce into making the fight.

Burns looks to have too much going for him to lose this one. While Moses may be able to win rounds with his accurate punch picking Burns should be too tasty for him when they come together to exchange, thanks to his committed and lung-busting rallies. A victory here, most likely on points, will allow him to clamber one step closer to the lightweight summit. Next up, rumour has it, is the man rated 5th – the resurgent Cockney Kevin Mitchell. A “Battle Of Britain” type affair peddled as a world title fight (as almost every televised match seems to be these days) it would sell tickets in their droves. Burns, though, knows that to be the king he needs the crown that he himself once referred to as the “Rocky belt.” Mexican great Juan Manuel Marquez holds it still. Burns continues to climb and is closing in.

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