If Ricky Burns can hold on to his WBO lightweight title when he meets the IBF champion Miguel Vazquez next month, the Scot could be a couple of arguments over money away from sharing a ring with Adrien Broner. If Broner were to beat Burns, then the American, the most exciting fighter in boxing today, could move up through the weights and waiting for him there are two more British fighters in Amir Khan and Kell Brook.
Boxing's latest putative saviour demolished his Welsh challenger, Gavin Rees, inside five rounds in Atlantic City on Saturday night and immediately called out Burns, whom he was scheduled to fight at super-featherweight about two years ago.
"If he won't fight me, I'm moving up to 140," Broner said. If he does, he will come to the attention of Khan, who is determined stay at light-welterweight as long as Danny Garcia holds the title he took from him in four rounds last year. Beyond 10 stone, there is Brook, the Sheffield fighter who has been denied — temporarily, at least — his world title shot at the welterweight champion Devon Alexander because of the American's injury.
Presuming he beats Vazquez, Burns would put two belts on the negotiating table to parlay with the WBC championship Broner owns but the American, given his untrammelled rise over the past 18 months, would dictate terms.
While Broner and Burns have matured significantly over the past couple of years, the unbeaten 23-year-old star from Cincinnati is now on a level significantly removed from anyone at or around 10 stones. He so resembles Floyd Mayweather Jr in talent, arrogance and box-office clout that his American paymasters, HBO, can barely contain their glee.
They have found a fighter of rare charisma. He is already nearly as good defensively as Mayweather, with the same rolling-shoulder defence and staccato footwork, but carrying more power, in both hands, and bags of nastiness. He also has street appeal, rapping his way to the ring, leaving opponents in a heap and celebrating with a sneer, as his father combs his hair.
It is clear Burns's connections will have a difficult time getting their man anything like an even share of the revenues going up against such a potent mix.
Broner was so dominant without getting out of second gear when he beat Rees on Saturday night that he left the challenger's promoter, Eddie Hearn, near speechless.
Broner knocked Rees off his feet with an uppercut in the fourth and buried a left into his ribs that sapped the last of his considerable resistance in the fifth. "Skill beats will," Broner pointed out later.
The champion is as theatrically rude as he is brilliant. Even as he consoled Rees after dazzling him for all but a few early moments of their fight in the Boardwalk Hall, Broner struggled to hide his contempt for his peers, including Burns. His laborious party trick is to effect ignorance of his opponents and, to this point, their presence has been almost incidental.
Broner outshines his division and his sport. But what he needs to establish himself in the years to come as an attraction on a par with Mayweather is a compelling rivalry, and he could well end up in mega-fights with British challengers at three weights.
Burns has a heaven-sent incentive to look good against Vazquez at Wembley Arena on 16 March; and you can be sure Khan and Brook will be watching every punch.
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