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On the September 4th 2010 Scottish boxer Ricky Burns became the new WBO Super Featherweight champion of the world by outpointing then undefeated Roman Martinez. Since this high point in Burns' boxing career he has gone on to defend his belt three times, including a first round TKO win over ex-Super Feather weight world champion Nicky Cook, who once held Burns' WBO belt until he lost it in his first defence.

After an easy July 2011 win against Cook, twenty-eight year old Burns is reaching his peak. The biggest decision he has to make now is who he should fight next. With a few defences against top class opposition or a unification match with a fellow champion, he could soon outgrow the super featherweight division. Accordingly, Burns also has options in the lightweight class. Fighters such as Michael Katsidis and Kevin Mitchell present a massive challenge and they are there and waiting.

Will Burns move up in weight class or will he stay where he currently is? It's time to look at the fights available to him. 

Ricky Burns vs Adrien Broner 

It was reported earlier this month that Burns may fight unbeaten American Adrien Broner in the forth defence of his WBO belt. The unbeaten Cincinnati super featherweight is the WBOs mandatory challenger and a fight between Burns and Broner has been long awaited by the pair's fans.

However, an admission by Burns' manager Alex Morrison's throws doubt over a bout between Burns and Broner. When speaking about Ricky Burns' next fight, he said:
"My worry is Ricky making the weight. It gets more difficult for fighters to keep making the 9st 5lbs as they get older. Ricky is now 28 and it was always the plan for him to move up to lightweight." 
The Ricky Burns - Adrien Broner match looks unlikely. If it were to happen it would be an exciting fight and one to definitely look forward to, but in my opinion there is a bigger fight out there.

Ricky Burns v Kevin Mitchell: A move up to lightweight
Stepping up to lightweight looks the more likely next move for Burns. That said, he may be disappointed with the fights he gets at first. Though the Scot will certainly want his first fight at lightweight to be for a world title, is a big ask for a debut fight in a heavier division. Before he can demand battles for flashy trinkets, Burns must prove himself in his new home. 

Winning a bout against an established and talented fighter such as Kevin Mitchell (32-1  24KOs) would open up a world title shot for Rickster. However, Mitchell - fresh from his great comeback win against fellow Brit John Murray - will most probably be offered a world title fight himself in his next match.

In an ideal world Burns and Mitchell would battle it out in an world title eliminator fight. Right now though, this looks very unlikely. Maybe somewhere down the line if both fighters have belts at lightweight they could look at a unification fight, but in the near future they will have to be ships that pass in the night.

Ricky Burns next fight: a warm up fight at lightweight?
Burns won’t get a massive title fight in his debut at lightweight, so a wise decision to make will to fight a decent opponent, but someone who isn’t at a world class level. In the heavyweight division, David Haye did just this with his first fight against Monte Barrett back in 2008. 

For Burns, a fight against someone like John Murray (31-1  18KOs) or ,if he is feeling ambitious, Michael Katsidis (28-4  23KOs) would help him prove himself at lightweight. A win against either of them would surely set up a title fight for Burns.

In Conclusion

Burns vs Broner - the toughest fight,

Burns v Mitchell - the fight the fans want to see

Burns v Murray/Katsidis - the most likely fight

What do you think? Should Burns take the risk of giving up his belt? Or should he keep defending his WBO Super Featherweight title and look for a unification fight in the future?

Written by Jake Wallwork (@WallworkJake on twitter)