PAUL WEIR has backed Ricky Burns to come through his frustrating world title tribulations as a stronger fighter.
The WBO lightweight champion suffered a second call-off in the build-up to his second defence of the title he won in March when Filipino challenger Jose Ocampo pulled out of their title fight scheduled for the ExCel London on Saturday night.
Weir, who was, like Burns, a former two-weight world champion back in the mid- nineties, admits that the curse of the call-off is the news that every fighter dreads.
Although he was himself a victim of it during the build-up to his maiden world title challenge back in May 1993, the 45-year-old admits that Burns faces a far more frustrating experience than his own.
Weir said: "It has obviously been a very frustrating time for Ricky and his team. It was bad enough that Liam Walsh, the Commonwealth champion called off after his unfortunate car crash, but now for Ocampo to call off five days before the fight is due to go ahead is a real blow.
"It is bad enough having started training to prepare for the style of one opponent and then have to change for another but then for him also to have called off is real bad luck. But this is where Ricky's professionalism must kick-in.
"Ricky is a very adaptable fighter and I think it doesn't matter who he fights right now, he has the quality and the skill set to deal with the challenge that is put in front of him. So Ricky will have to just adopt tunnel vision and focus on who is put in front of him.
"The great plus for him is that he has trained for a world title fight and whoever he meets is going to struggle to be in that shape – if they get anyone in."
Recalling the occasion he was almost left high and dry, the former WBO minimum weight and light-flyweight champ said: "It happened to me in my first challenge for the minimum weight title when my opponent, who was from El Salvador, a fellow named Dinesali if I recall correctly, pulled out, but that was just at the six-week stage so I still had plenty of time to adjust.
"Eventually I fought a Mexican called Fernando Martinez and stopped him in seven rounds to win my first world title, so it didn't do me much harm. But like I say I had plenty of time to cope with that call- off whereas Ricky is now just days from fight night."
Burns' promoter Frank Warren has stressed his determination for the champion to engage in some meaningful action at the top of his big London bill on Saturday night.
With a possible unification fight with WBC boss Adrien Broner in the pipeline for the new year, Weir has no doubt about the importance of Burns returning to battle.
He said: "It is three months since Ricky last fought. If he is going to meet Broner early next year then it is vital he keeps ticking over.
"It will be tough to get a world class opponent in but given all the time Ricky has spent in camp it is important that he gets some ring time."