In one of the worst decisions of the year -- and of the past few years -- lightweight titlist Ricky Burns got the ultimate hometown nod in Scotland, retaining his belt on a split draw against hard-luck Mexican Raymundo Beltran on Sept. 7.
Even some of Burns’ most ardent supporters took to social media to say they believed that Beltran had been robbed, which he was. Beltran broke Burns’ jaw in the second round, dropped him in the eighth round, outmuscled him throughout the fight and clearly should have gotten the decision. So it seemed like a logical bet that the WBO, whose belt Burns holds, would order an immediate rematch. But, alas, it did not. Instead, the organization announced that it has ordered Burns promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport to begin negotiations with Top Rank for his mandatory defense against Terence Crawford, leaving Beltran high and dry.
The Burns and Crawford camps have until early December to reach a deal, otherwise a purse bid will be ordered. The minimum bid is $150,000, and if either side wants, it can call for an immediate purse bid and stop negotiating.
The order puts Top Rank in a delicate position because it promotes Crawford and Beltran. However, the fight HBO wants is Burns-Crawford, so if Burns’ jaw is healed and he’s going to fight in early 2014, it looks as though he will be facing Crawford, possibly in the United States if the network comes up with enough money to entice him to come stateside.
The organization also ordered the third fight between super middleweight titlist Robert Stieglitz and mandatory challenger (and former titlist) Arthur Abraham. Stieglitz promoter Ulf Steinforth of SES Sports and Chris Meyer of Sauerland Event are in discussions, but if they can’t make a deal, a purse bid will be ordered. Minimum bid is $300,000.
Abraham edged Stieglitz to win the belt in their first fight in August 2012 but then got routed in a fourth-round knockout in the March rematch. Ridiculously, Abraham was appointed as the mandatory challenger and has looked terrible in a pair of decision wins against lesser opponents since the loss.
The rubber match is expected to take place in early 2014 -- before the start of the Winter Olympics in February -- but the big question is which German television network will broadcast the fight, as Stieglitz has an exclusive deal with SAT.1 while Sauerland has a deal for all of its fights to be on ARD.