Ricky Burns: Scottish boxer makes history with third world title
Last updated on .From the section Boxing
Ricky Burns overpowered Italian opponent Michele Di Rocco to win the vacant WBA World Super-Lightweight title in Glasgow.
The 33-year-old Coatbridge fighter dominated the bout and was in command when Di Rocco crumpled under a barrage of punches in the eighth round.
Burns is the first Scot to win a world title at a third weight and the first Briton since Duke McKenzie in 1992.
It was the Italian's first loss since September 2007.
Burns, who had been world champion at super-featherweight and lightweight, had Di Rocco reeling from three heavy right hands in the first round, surely stirred by the noise of his supporters prior to the opening bell sounding.
The exchanges were less dramatic in the second, with the 34-year-old former European champion trying unsuccessfully to pin the Scot against the ropes. Burns, though, managed to evade punishment by using good footwork.
In only his third bout outside Italy, Di Rocco was clearly rattled by Burns' opening, plus a low blow and a standing eight count after going down from a combination of punches and a shove in the third round.
With 40 wins and a draw from his 42 prior contests, the Umbrian boxer posed a threat but his punches from a crouched position did not appear to have the will-sapping ferocity of Burns'.
Ahead of the bout Essex-based Burns spoke respectfully of his opponent's record of going almost a decade without defeat.
However, by the midway point the Coatbridge fighter was ahead and must have sensed he could win world title number three.
His beautifully delivered straight right in the sixth round, which sent Di Rocco's head snapping back, would have boosted him further.
The Assisi battler had not truly troubled the dominant home fighter, who was relishing the occasion and was the sharper of the two.
Round eight signalled a new world champion for Scotland and the return of Burns to a level from which he dropped when Terence Crawford out-boxed him for his WBO World Lightweight title in March 2014.
Burns nailed Di Rocco in the corner and when he did emerge it was only to stumble at the referee's feet. He failed to make the count and the 8,000 fans acclaimed their history-making hero.