RICKY BURNS is ready to rise to the challenge of meeting Miguel Vazquez in their lightweight world title unification fight.
As exclusively revealed in later editions of yesterday's SportTimes, Burns' WBO belt and the Mexican's IBF title will be up for grabs at Wembley Arena in the top of the bill contest on March 16 in what has been labelled "The Best of British" bill by promoter Frank Warren.
But the Scot had no doubt about the size of the task facing him against the 26-year-old Mexican who has only ever been beaten by the absolute best in WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley and WBC light-middleweight ruler Saul Alvarez (twice), and never stopped.
Burns said: "Vazquez is just a top fighter and one who is always in great shape and technically very good. But this is the unification fight I have always dreamed of and when I was told it was going to happen I couldn't stop smiling.
"I have always said that the better the fighter I face the better I box and that will certainly have to be the case against Vazquez. When you look at his record, his losses have come against two of the biggest names in the game in Alvarez and Bradley and neither of them managed to stop him.
"So that underlines the challenge and the size of it and I am looking forward to meeting Vazquez and proving all my doubters wrong again."
This last remark concerning doubters seems amazing from a man, who at 29, is at the peak of his powers and is also now a two-weight world champion.
But Burns was keen to back up his claims that, despite his growing reputation and the praise of promoter Warren, who regularly eulogises over Burns as the best boxer in the British fight game, there are still doubters out there.
The WBO lightweight champion said: "When I fought Roman Martinez for the WBO super-featherweight title no one outside of my camp gave me a prayer. It was the same when I came down to Wembley the last time to fight Michael Katsidis.
"Then when I defended my WBO lightweight title against Kevin Mitchell everyone said he'd stop me but I finished him off in four rounds. So I am used to people writing me off and I'm sure it will be the same on March 16. But I love proving the doubters wrong."
Burns' promoter Frank Warren was in no mood to underestimate the size of the challenge awaiting his charge.
Warren said: "People in the fight game rate Vazquez as one of the most difficult fighters out there to beat. He will pose Ricky all kinds of problems that will be different to any he has faced in the past, but I am confident Ricky will come up with the answers.
"But if Ricky should win, and I believe he will, that will mean he will have two world titles round his waist and put him in a very strong position when we come to looking at a fight with Adrien Broner (WBC champion) in the summer hopefully."