May 24 2007 By Mark Sugden, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
RICKY Burns ended a 14-year association with Rab Bannan and the Barn Boxing Club last week.
The super featherweight rang the bell on his time at the Kirkshaws club in search of a new challenge and direction following his British title defeat to Carl Johannesson
His next bout is on July 7 in Cardiff and for the first time in his career he won’t have the legendary Bannan sitting in his corner.
The 23-year-old said: “It will be strange not having Rab there but I felt it was time for a change and time for me to look elsewhere.
“I’ve been holding off from making the decision because I have so much respect for what Rab has done for me over the years.
“It was a nightmare having to tell him. It was really sad because I’ve been with him for 14 years. All my boxing life really. It was really hard but we left on good terms and we shook hands and I’ve sure our paths will cross again.”
Burns hasn’t fought since he bravely lost in 12 rounds to Johanesson.
For all his courage and skill that night, he couldn’t match the Leeds boxer’s strength and power and Burns now hopes to add those extra elements to his undoubted potential.
He has been training in the hills in Fort William with Willie Limond and Kenny Anderson and will now work from the Dalmarnock gym in Glasgow under the watchful eye of Billy Nelson.
He said: “I think it will be a good move for me and the gym in Glasgow is pretty impressive and geared for professional boxing.
“Rab is still quite new to the pro game as well so hopefully I’ll learn from Billy’s experience.
“He’s worked with some good boxers and knows the game inside out. I’m looking forward to continuing working with him.”
Their first challenge will be in July against as yet an unnamed opponent.
Burns has lost just twice - to Johanesson and Arthur - in 15 professional fights after a stunning amateur career.
As well as support and guidance from Nelson he has enrolled the help of nutritionist Bernie Hamerslay to give himself any extra advantage in his quest to land a major title.
He added: “He should be a good help. I spoke to him this week and he’s going to give me advice about my nutrition.
“He is going to help with my muscle building and give me more power in my punches.
“Diet is really important for boxers and hopefully this will give me a bit of an edge.”
The rangy fighter with the polished jab has failed twice in championship bouts but that hasn’t deterred him or made him less positive about the future.
And with a three-year contract with promoters Alec Morrison and Frank Warren he is already eyeing up a fight against the much-vaunted Kevin Mitchell.
The Cockney is being dubbed the Wayne Rooney of boxing but he doesn’t phase Burns.
He added: “There has been rumours that we were due to fight but it didn’t materialise.
“I’m hoping to get a couple of eight-rounders in and then by the end of year be ready for a fight with Mitchell.
“He’s a good record but I’d be confident of my chances against him.”
Rab Bannan added: “There are no hard feelings and everyone at the Barn wishes him all the best for the future.”