After soundly dismantling Kevin Mitchell in four rounds this past Saturday in the second defence of his WBO word lightweight championship, Ricky Burns is bordering on cementing his place as one of the best lightweights in the world.

Burns, according to his promoter Frank Warren, will return to the ring in December, headlining a card in London which is likely to be supported by Kevin Mitchell and Billy Joe Saunders Рboth from the capital. 

News broke earlier this week that the WBO have ordered Burns to face his mandatory challenger, which put an end to the talk of a potential fight against fellow countryman and former featherweight world champion, Scott Harrison.

Adrien Broner, whom Burns was set to meet at super-featherweight before encountering problems making the 130lb limit and thus moving up to lightweight, is ranked as the number 1 contender to Burns’ championship. However, Broner has a date with WBC titlist Antonio DeMarco, reportedly set for the 17th of November.

Providing Burns is to be seen in action again in December, the list of potential opponents that fall into a mandatory category are few. Out of the current top 10 in the WBO rankings, only four are, realistically, available to fight in early-to-mid December – Gavin Rees, Sergio Thompson, Carlos Molina and Ji-Hoon Kim. Of the remaining six, Burns has beaten two of them (Paulus Moses and Kevin Mitchell) and the remaining four are occupied (Adrien Broner, Sharif Bogere, Jose A. Gonzalez and Marvin Quintero).

Jose A. Gonzalez, ranked at number 4, fights on October 6th, which may or may not give him enough time to prepare for a December date with Burns. Gonzalez’ promoter, Puerto Rico Best Boxing, has said that they will have no problems in doing business with Frank Warren, but it remains to be seen what their thoughts are on potentially fighting in December.

Given that the number 1 and 3 ranked contenders are occupied (Adrien Broner and Sharif Bogere), it stands to reason that the mandatory slot will go to the next highest ranked fighter available which, barring an upset and/or injury, will be Jose A. Gonzalez. However, should the worst case scenario occur in the case of Gonzalez, the mandatory slot will, theoretically, go to the next highest ranked fighter РSergio Thompson.

All this will be cleared up on Monday when Frank Warren is expected to announce Burns’ next opponent, venue, date and undercard.

A mandatory defence is next for Ricky Burns before, likely, he fights Scott Harrison in an all-Scottish clash in early 2013. If all goes well for Burns in his next two fights, a shot at a unification bout and showcasing his skills in front of an American audience will be on the horizon.

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