Ricky Burns and Willie Limond headlined a terrific Scottish boxing card at Braehead Arena near Glasgow on Friday evening.
The promotion which was titled “Battle of the Legends” featured two of Scotland’s best professional boxers from the past 20 years or so facing off in what will probably be the career swansong for both fighters.
Iain Wilson’s St Andrew’s Sporting Club promoted the show.
Smooth ring announcer Craig Stephen handled MC duties in classy fashion throughout the night.
Willie Limond walked to the ring first, accompanied by the great traditional Scottish rock anthem “Loch Lomond” by Runrig.
It had the crowd in good voice.
Burns entered to some dance music which isn’t my thing so I can’t name the tune.
A quick rendition of “Flower Of Scotland” preceded the fighters being introduced.
Craig Stephen reminded us this was 12 rounds or less in the welterweight division.
The opening round illustrated just how difficult it would be for Limond to get the better of Burns on the night.
Ricky Burns looked slick and strong and landed several combinations as his work was just a little sharper.
40-years-old but with the movement of a fighter 15 years younger, Burns, 44-8-1 entering the bout, was bouncing on his feet and signalling to Limond that his engine was still in good working order.
Limond, 44-years-old and 42-5 when the contest began, continued to look for a way to puncture the confidence of Burns in the early stages.
Burns’ Jab and Body Work Set The Tone
As “Battle of the Legends” moved into its third round, Limond tried to use some of his cultured footwork to close the gap on Ricky Burns.
Burns had the answer in the shape of his jab.
Ricky was also mixing in a steady diet of body shots.
Limond remained aggressive, coming forward, trying to build some momentum.
Limond did land a good right hand in the fourth session but perhaps the main talking point at the end of the round was the amount of blood pouring out of Willie’s nose.
It indicated that Limond’s nose had been broken.
Battle-Hardened Limond Was Digging Deep; Ricky Burns Continued To Impress
Despite the adversity, Limond kept looking for a way to make in-roads into Burns’ defence in round five.
He was being tagged by sharp counters by Ricky Burns though.
Burns looked fast and comfortable; Limond, by contrast, was being marked up by those counters which flowed from Burns’ neon pink gloves.
The amount of blood streaming from the nose of Limond was affecting the Glasgow boxer’s breathing.
It was to Limond’s credit that he kept moving forward, trying to get into range to land some shots on Burns’ body.
The problem he had was that Burns was timing most of these attacks beautifully, adding to the damage being inflicted on Limond’s nose and smearing the blood all over his face and into his eyes.
After Eight Rounds Referee Victor Loughlin Said No More
With Willie Limond displaying bravery beyond belief, referee Victor Loughlin called a halt to proceedings at the conclusion of round eight.
Ricky Burns was well in control and Limond had to be saved from himself.
The mutual respect both men have for one another was evident for all to see.
They both gave it their all and provided good value for the paying public.
As lousy as the business of boxing can be at times, it was superb to see two dedicated professionals bowing out on their own terms in a contest of this nature.
Quotes From The Protagonists
After the ring had cleared, both boxers spoke at ringside.
Ricky Burns: “I enjoyed it. I always said I’d love to get that one final fight in Glasgow. I was a bit rusty at the start but as the fight went on I started to find my jab and started to relax a bit.
“Throughout my whole career I’ve always said I’m not the best boxer but when I’m training for a fight I give it everything. When I step in there I know I’m 100% for 12 rounds.
“I always say my best attribute is my will to win and stubbornness in there.”
Willie Limond: “It was a painful experience (pointing to his nose), but it was a good experience. I couldn’t stop swallowing blood, and Ricky’s jab was right in my face.
“I couldn’t breathe. I was on the end of it there but with respect to Ricky Burns, he boxed brilliantly.
“I felt quite sharp at the start but Ricky did a job.
“He landed good shots and his tactics were spot on. His jab was solid and it took me off my gameplan.”
Both fighters were asked if they would now call it a career.
Ricky Burns (see his next big project, below) declared he was happy right now but if the right offer came in he would be tempted to say yes so long as his wife gave him permission.
Willie Limond declared that he was done and now is the time for him to see how his two sons progress between the ropes.
He joked that he enjoyed the training camp and the fight, apart from taking shots from Ricky Burns.
Ricky Burns and Willie Limond have both served Scottish boxing superbly over the years.
I wish them well as they move out of the spotlight and into coaching the next generation of Scottish boxers.
It may be quite some time before we see their likes again.
Undercard Roundup Before Ricky Burns Win
The undercard featured nine fights.
Two of these contests were for Scottish titles while the other seven featured Scottish prospects in the early stages of their professional development.
Will any of these names follow in the footsteps of Ricky Burns and Willie Limond?
Andy Tham Dominates Jack Turner To Lift Scottish Featherweight Title
Jack Turner against Andy Tham for the vacant Scottish featherweight title served as the chief support bout.
Turner from Glasgow and Tham from nearby Cumbernauld know one another well and actually boxed each other as amateurs.
Tonight it was all about winning a professional title in front of a large crowd at Braehead Arena.
A fast-paced start from both fighters gave way to a timing versus speed encounter; Turner trying to time the speedy Tham.
Tham was the front-foot aggressive fighter throughout.
Tham scored the first major breakthrough of the fight when he floored Turner in the third round.
A flurry of fast shots resulted in a left hook landing perfectly on Turner’s jaw.
Turner recovered but was second best in the contest in the rounds that followed.
Tham’s speed and footwork were bamboozling the Glasgow fighter.
Soon it would be Tham’s power that closed the show.
A right hand detonated on Turner’s jawline and although he remained upright his legs were shaking violently and referee Kevin McIntyre had no hesitation in jumping in to stop the contest with Turner in no position to defend himself.
It was a stunning conclusion to the contest. Tham won the belt in style.
His record now stands at 5-1. Turner, beaten for the first time as a pro, is now 7-1.
Martin Crossan Wipes Out Andrew Smart in Scottish Title Defence
This one was short and sweet. In his first defence of his Scottish 140-pound title, Martin Crossan scored a quick TKO win over Andrew Smart.
Nicknamed “The Bulldog,” Crossan needed just 2:58 to get the job done at Braehead Arena.
The fight was just settling in when Crossan landed a booming right hand which sent Smart to the canvas.
Despite there only being 30 seconds remaining in the round, Crossan remained composed and landed two more heavy right hands to the head of his foe and referee Kenny Pringle had seen enough.
Remarkably, that was Crossan’s first stoppage win. He is now 8-0.
Andrew Smart, who informed ringsiders he was fine despite the heavy shots he absorbed, dropped to 6-2.
Prospects Opened The Show
As the early evening unfolded and Braehead Arena filled up, a number of Scottish prospects were showcased against international opponents.
The card kicked off with a points win for Josh Campbell of Glasgow. Campbell moved to 7-0 by defeating Polish journeyman Jakub Laskowski in a 140-pound contest.
Campbell had his man down in the second round but Laskowski, who dropped to 4-26-1, knew enough to hear the final bell.
Middleweight Reece Porter scored the first KO of his career and moved to 3-0 in the process.
The middleweight got rid of Egidijus Zukas (2-7) of Lithuania halfway through the opening session.
Stirling welterweight Taylor Coyle was up next.
Determined Ukrainian Artem Liashevych made things awkward for Coyle who couldn't find any rhythm or clean shots. At its conclusion the four round bout was scored as a draw.
Coyle goes to 3-0-1 while Liashevych's record now stands at 4-6-2.
Frank “The Tank” Madsen of Denmark was the next visiting fighter to make his ring walk.
Madsen was matched against 24-year-old Tyler Jolly in a 154-pound contest.
Jolly, an amateur standout and now trained by Ricky Burns, employed an aggressive body attack to open the fight.
A knockdown at the end of the first round underlined Jolly's dominance. The Scotsman struggled a little in the second and third rounds before he closed the show in style in the fourth.
A jab and right uppercut opened up Madsen's defence and the left hook to the body that followed left the Danish boxer unable to beat the count.
Jolly is now 2-0 and looks worth keeping an eye on. Madsen dropped to 7-7.
19-year-old Jake Limond, son of Willie Limond, took on Stefan “The Wasp” Vincent of England in a six rounder.
“The Wasp” buzzed around, mainly in reverse, as Limond carried the heavier hands.
A right hand-left hook 1-2 floored Vincent in round two.
Limond demonstrated patience and good footwork throughout against his defensive minded opponent. He couldn’t find his first career stoppage though and had to settle for a 60-53 clean sweep on the referee’s scorecard.
Limond moved to 5-0 while 32-year-old Vincent’s record now stands at 1-3.
Dundee super featherweight Charlie “Damage” Doig faced late replacement Clayton Bricknell of England.
Southpaw Doig was scheduled to face George Stewart for the Scottish 130-pound title but that was a late scratch after Stewart fell ill.
The Scotsman dominated the contest but couldn’t become the first man to stop Bricknell.
A knockdown after a superb body shot in the eighth and final round almost stopped Bricknell, but the man who was boxing on 48-hours notice was able to beat the count.
Doig recorded a decision win and nudged his record to 4-0. Bricknell is now 3-8-1.
Super flyweight Matty “Trouble” McHale from Edinburgh took on Englishman Steven “Livewire” Maguire in a six rounder.
Commonwealth Games bronze medalist McHale, who works with trainer Terry McCormack at Lochend Boxing Club, put on a good show.
Fast, light on his feet and working combinations to the head and body, he was far too much for Maguire to handle.
A perfectly delivered body shot in the fourth round brought the one-sided contest to an end. Maguire rose to his feet but the referee saved him from more punishment.
McHale, now 4-0, looks another to keep an eye on.
McGuire, a hard-working journeyman who fights regularly, dropped to 4-40-1.