Breaking away from the Scottish boxing scene and getting an opportunity to become known across the whole of Britain can prove difficult. With limited opportunities and platforms available north of the border, boxers are often reliant on patience, making their way up the rankings or jumping at last minute phone call offerings. For Scottish welterweight champion, Stewart Burt, it’s been the former and his opportunity comes with reasonable notice on February 8th as he faces off against Anthony Tomlinson.

The bout will be British and Commonwealth elimination contest live on Sky Sports, as part of the Matchroom card featuring Kell Brook, Dave Allen and Kid Galahad. Although with Tomlinson being a Sheffield native, it does mean he’ll have home advantage.

“It’s a massive opportunity, the kind I’ve been waiting for, to be honest! It was Steffy Bull who sorted it all out, originally it was supposed to be on a Doncaster show in March but when he phoned back and offered this, obviously we jumped at it! Big arena show on Sky, this is the kinda night you’re always aiming for!”

“The way Matchroom set their shows up is another level, I was supposed to be on three Hydro shows but actually only ended up on one and it was amazing, so least I’m not going in blind and know what to expect.”

“The home support doesn’t bother me, when you’re in the big arena, you barely notice the crowd and I’ve got quite a lot of friends and family making the trip down anyway.”

“It meant I had to stay focused over Christmas and new year which was always tough but these kind of opportunities are worth all the sacrifice. It actually worked out quite well, I always take some time off work on the lead up to fights but I was off work for a few weeks over the festive period anyway so I could actually put that time into training! And I like the idea of going straight into a big fight in 2020!”

Burt will walk into the bout with slightly more experience with a record of 13-1-1, and although he has a loss to Ally Black, it was later avenged to pick up his Scottish title. His opponent Tomlinson remains undefeated at 11-0 since turning pro in 2017, three years later than Burt. With both men coming into the bout off stoppage wins, we can only expect confidence from both boxers:

“I don’t know much about him [Anthony Tomlinson] but I’ve watched some clips and his record shows he’s got power and hungry. But I’m hungry too! My 2019 was a bit of a write off, with call-offs and injuries. Obviously I was supposed to fight Martin [Harkin] but I broke my thumb, which was a shame but it’s all fine now. I left it plenty time to heal and had no issues with it since.”

“But at least I finished the year with a stoppage and hoping to take that momentum into this fight. I’m not known for my power but the guy I stopped had never been stopped before and even from the opening bell he seemed alright and I thought I would be in for a busy six rounder – so to get him out of there in the first round was great!”

Towards the end of 2019, the Scottish champion from Glasgow appeared to have a target on his back as fellow Scot, Dean Sutherland took to social media, press and video interviews to call him out and attempt to taunt him into a fight. However, as the Aberdonian was going public, Burt and his team were making moves quietly to secure this upcoming bout and having the last laugh, leaving Sutherland without his Scottish title fight but also pinching the Commonwealth eliminator he had been hoping to line up as a replacement.

“He doesn’t bother me! I just don’t know where he’s got this idea that I’m avoiding him, I’ll fight anyone. To fight him would be a bit of step back, look at this fight… I’m about to fight in a British and Commonwealth eliminator on Sky. Win this and the next couple of fights could be huge! I don’t even know who or where he’s fighting next but I know where I would rather be! He just needs to focus on him and of course, we can look at that fight further down the line.”

Another Scottish welterweight that Stewart knows well is Martin Harkin. Whilst the two have already met twice in the amateurs, there is every possibility they could meet again soon, if they both win their upcoming elimination bouts. Despite this, the pair have also been helping each other prepare, meeting for sparring on a couple of occasions.

“At this time of year it can be difficult getting good sparring. I’ve known Martin for a long time and even though we might face each other in the near future, you gotta take it one fight at a time, we all just thought it was best to get the best preparation possible for this fight and you won’t get better up here to help than Martin and I’m sure he’d say the same about me – so why wouldn’t we want to help each other ahead of the biggest fights of our careers!?”

Although we often crave the domestic show downs to happen immediately, with the realistic possibility, that any of the three, could potentially meet in a real meaningful fight is definitely worth waiting for.

There will be a bus running down from Glasgow for the big fight, so If you are interested in going down to Sheffield to support Stewart Burt on February 8th, get in contact with him via social media. If not, be sure to tune into Sky Sports on the night.

Article by Allen Payne