Ricky Burns prepares for WBA title defence against Kiryl Relikh

By Keir MurrayBBC Scotland
Ricky Burns and challenger Kiryl Relikh
Ricky Burns met challenger Kiryl Relikh for the first time at Glasgow's Marriott Hotel on Monday

Ricky Burns has promised Kiryl Relikh he will have his full attention when he defends his WBA super-lightweight world title in Glasgow next month.

Burns, 33, has fought almost six times as many rounds as his 26-year-old big-hitting Belarusian opponent, and thinks that greater experience will be useful.

"I feel as if I've been fighting forever," Burns told BBC Scotland.

"This is the first time he has stepped it up a level. The Glasgow crowd will make it nice and loud for him."

Burns will head to Essex to join trainer Tony Sims to build up to the bout at the SSE Hydro on 7 October.

WBA world super-lightweight title
Ricky BurnsKiryl Relikh
World championRankingMandatory challenger
40 wins, 5 losses, 1 drawRecord21 wins, 0 losses, 0 defeats
Three-weight world championTitlesWBA Inter-Continental champion

The Coatbridge boxer has won 40 out of 46 bouts in a career, stretching 15 years during which time he has won world titles at super-featherweight, lightweight and super-lightweight.

That last belt was clinched at the same Glasgow venue in May, when he stopped Michele di Rocco in the eighth round to win the vacant 140lb title.

He has boxed 349 rounds compared to the mandatory challenger's 61, but it is not a statistic that concerns the champion.

"I'll give him my full respect. He's been training alongside Ricky Hatton for a while," said Burns of Relikh.

"He comes in looking for those big shots so we'll need to make sure the chin is down and the hands are up.

Trainer Ricky Hatton and Kiryl Relikh
Kiryl Relikh came to the attention of Ricky Hatton through European matchmaker Philippe Fondu

"We're expecting a hard fight. Tony has been watching him - 19 knockouts from 21 victories, so he can punch a bit.

"The training has been going well. You can work on stuff that you will use now and again, but sometimes your opponent might change his style or do something different so you have to be able to react."

Former world champion Hatton has been impressed with Relikh's confidence about the fight and with his work-rate in the gym.

"He trains with me in Manchester and stays in one of my houses," said Hatton.

"He's a pleasure to train, he's a lovely kid but he's got a real nasty streak, which I guess is what you need.

"He can seem arrogant but he's just got so much confidence in his own ability. He's the real deal.

Ricky Burns puts Italy's Michele di Rocco on the canvas at the Hydro in Glasgow in May
Ricky Burns puts Italy's Michele di Rocco on the canvas at the Hydro in Glasgow in May

"He doesn't think he's going to be a world champion, he thinks he's going to be a superstar. That's what Ricky's got to prepare for."

Asked how his fighter would cope against someone of Burns' know-how, possibly over 12 rounds, Hatton replied: "When I won the British title, which was my first 12-rounder, the most I had done previously was six rounds and I breezed it, and he'll breeze it.

"I'm not concerned about his fitness. He does what I did with [trainer] Billy Graham - he'll be ready. What I did got me to the top.

"As for the atmosphere, that's the least of my worries. You've got to understand the mentality of this kid. He's not fazed by anything.

"When I fought Kosta Tszyu, King Kong couldn't have beaten me that night, and that's how he feels too."

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