Ross Burkinshaw’s perseverance and dogged determination paid off last night (06/09/14) when the Sheffield battler beat Jason Cunningham at the Doncaster Dome to become Commonwealth bantamweight champion.
With just four days’ notice, Burkinshaw stepped in against previously unbeaten Cunningham after original opponent – and former champion – Martin Ward vacated and pulled out with illness. Over 12 exciting rounds, and in an early Fight of the Year contender, the pair left it all in the ring as they battered each other from pillar-to-post before ‘The Boss’ had his had raised via split decision victory.
Ross, 28, has refused to be derailed by setbacks. The former soldier has seen British, English and Central Area challenges go awry previously but never lost the belief that a major title would one day be his.
Now, with just five defeats in 20 outings, Burkinshaw is looking forward to an exciting new chapter in his career as a major player in the 8st 6lbs division.
“I feel on top of the world. I’ve been in boxing for 20 years; I started when I was eight and have worked hard. I’ve had my ups and downs, and injuries, but that’s just made me more determined.
“I left my old trainer Glyn Rhodes after 17 years. We did a lot together, but I’m now with Ryan [Rhodes] and he’s not changed my style much, he’s just added to what I already had. He really has made me excel in my abilities, and that showed last night.
“It was a tough fight,” explained Ross, who left the ring with serious nose damage. “When it was long it was okay, but up close he was catching me with his head and shoulders, and I’ve got stitches in the back of my head from a head clash. I’m not sure about the split decision, obviously it’s all about opinions, but I’m just glad the right decision came out.”
Next up for Burkinshaw, in his first defence, will be previous belt holder, Ward. The County Durham man is a former world title challenger and renowned for his tricky southpaw style. Ross, though, who paid tribute to manager Dennis Hobson after the victory, won’t be giving up his belt easily.
“I’ve not really seen much of Martin, apart from when he boxed Stuart Hall [for the world title – the fight was stopped after two rounds due to a cut – Hall retained on a technical draw] and you can’t go much off that. Me and Martin get on though, he came into my dressing room and wished me well before the fight, and we’ve said we’ll have a beer after we’ve fought.
“Dennis, and the Hobson family, they’re like my family. We’re really close-knit, so for me to do this means he’s absolutely over the moon too. We work hard and it proves that sticking together pays off. Dennis has done wonders for me, getting me this fight at short notice, and we’ve done it all through self-belief.”
Courtesy of the Dennis Hobson Promotions press office