What Next for Courtney Burton?

BY Jesse K. Cox ON July 23, 2005
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No questionable blows. No questionable judgments.

But lightweight Courtney Burton still has to question what it’s going to take to reach the promised greatness he enjoyed after stopping Angel Manfredy in the eighth round just two years ago at the Hammond Civic Auditorium. Rolando Reyes’ technical knockout victory for the NABO title Friday at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, Calif., wasn’t the answer Burton was seeking.

“We’ll have to go home and regroup, and maybe what she should do is move [up] to 140 pounds,” Burton’s LaPorte, Ind.-based manager and promoter Malcolm Garrett said Saturday. “Sometimes you can make the weight, but if you’re not real strong, you don’t take as good a shot.”

Problematic for 27-year-old Burton, who trains in LaPorte, who was taking a few hard shots from Reyes that dropped him in the sixth and for the last time when referee Jack Reiss called it at 2:55.

Dishing out knee-wobbling punches and taking them has been part of Burton’s style for years, helping him earn the NABO title two years ago before vacating it for an IBF title eliminator with Julio Diaz.

Slugging away at Reyes (24-3-2, 16 KOs) had actually helped him capture the first five rounds Friday. But his troubles began near the end of the sixth when he dropped his hands.

“You could tell he’s afraid of Courtney’s power,” Garrett said. “But Courtney would lose focus once in a while and that’s when Reyes would capitalize.

“You only have to get caught flush a couple times and it grooves your whole strategy.”

The strategy for Burton (21-4-0, 11 KOs) now will be a change of style, perhaps a departure from the toe-to-toe slugger that benefits his natural power. The greatest adjustment will be jumping from lightweight to bigger, stronger opponents in the light welterweight division, although Garrett said the weight adjustment is nothing but beneficial for Burton, who struggles to slim down from his 160-pound walk around weight to 135 for his fights.

The easiest thing for him to correct is the most basic of rules in boxing: Protect yourself at all times.

“No matter what weight he fights, them hands have to be up in front of your face blocking punches,” Garrett said. “Courtney made a few mistakes in the fight – and he paid the price.”

The last year of Burton’s career has been nothing but paying the price, as he’s lost four of the last five outings, including a controversial TKO loss to Ebo Elder at the Chumash Casino.

Garrett and Burton, who both said Elder’s repeated shots to the groin went unchecked by the referee, feel it was a veil of controversy carried over from a questionable decision Burton earned over Emanuel Augustus when the two men fought.

Burton hoped to start fresh with a bout last month in LaPorte, where he’d fought on more than a dozen cards. But the controversy this time belonged to Garrett, who failed to submit the necessary paperwork on time, forcing the Indiana Boxing Commission to cancel a show for the first time in at least 15 years.

In the process, Garrett lost to light heavyweight Nick Cook, a LaPorte native, who was angered by the administrative failure and asked to be released from his contract.

But Friday’s bout, there were no paperwork mix-ups or quibbles over points and low blows.

It was merely Burton wondering what he’s going to do next.

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