Ricky Burns beats Jose Gonzalez to retain world title
Ricky Burns ended the tremendous challenge of Puerto Rico's Jose Gonzalez to retain his WBO world lightweight title in Glasgow.
Gonzalez, unbeaten in his previous 22 bouts, retired at the end of the ninth round with a damaged left wrist.
At that point, there was little to separate the two as Burns was tested to the full in his third title defence.
And the 30-year-old Scot must have experienced as much relief as delight when the bout was ended prematurely.
The partisan crowd would have wilted the fighting desire of lesser men but Gonzalez was bright and game in the opening round, flashing out his left fist to keep the more aggressive Burns at bay.
The opening two rounds suggested the fight could be a thriller, with Gonzalez breaking from his more languid style to mix it up on occasion with the home favourite.
Burns's nose was bloodied in the third and the challenger enjoyed success with two-fisted attacks towards the end of the round.
However, the Scot grinned at the attempt and was ferocious with his own assaults.
Burns v Gonzalez
Gonzalez troubles Burns with excellent movement and jabbing over first six rounds
Explosive seventh round sees both men take serious punishment
Burns shows superior strength to control rounds eight and nine
Gonzalez retires with damaged hand - his first loss in 23 fights
Burns' record now stands at 36 wins from 38 bouts
With 17 knockouts in an unblemished 22-fight career, the challenger posed considerable danger to Burns but, as is his style, he was prepared to take a few shots to land some of his own on the 29-year-old from Toa Baja.
Against Kevin Mitchell in his last defence, Burns looked bigger and stronger than his opponent: not so with Gonzalez.
By the midway point in the fight, the pair looked evenly matched, each able to boast of inflicting pain on the other and of making their opponent miss with superb reflexes.
Worryingly for the champion, Gonzalez looked wonderfully composed, even winking to his corner on occasion.
The seventh round was Gonzalez's strongest as he pinned Burns against the ropes and blasted at his arms and body.
Burns was off balance and ragged and was under the greatest threat since the opening rounds of the bout against Roman Martinez, which he won to become world champion at super-featherweight.
Whatever advice trainer Billy Nelson imparted had the desired effect as Burns caught Gonzalez with a sickening left to the body to stem the tide in the eighth, an impression that continued into the ninth as he began to assert himself once more by being quicker off the mark in their exchanges.
And when the challenger remained seated in his corner as the bell sounded for the 10th, the crowd roared to acclaim their hero - and the talent of the challenger.
On the undercard, John Simpson was too accurate and too composed for Choi Tseveenpurev from Mongolia. The Greenock fighter took the vacant WBO inter-continental super-featherweight title with a unanimous points win - 116-112, 117-112, 116-113.
As has been the case throughout his career, the 41-year-old proved impossible to stop and at least he left Glasgow with that record intact.
But Simpson had to work hard for his win, wisely choosing when to attack and when to cover up to avoid the upper cuts and sharp punches from the brave opponent.
In the end, despite a bloody nose, Simpson's work was the more telling and his victory was thoroughly deserved.
Edinburgh's Steve Simmons won the vacant Celtic cruiserweight title after Michael Sweeney's corner retired the Irish fighter with an unspecified injury after three rounds.
Glasgow super-featherweight Michael Roberts survived a cut eye in the third round and some thumping, varied shots in the sixth to beat Brentford-based Polish southpaw Mariusz Bak.
Judges gave the Scot the nod with a score of 58-57. The 26-year-old takes his record to 12 wins and no defeats as he seeks to build a case for a tilt at the British title.
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