The veteran three-weight world champion looked shaky early on as he struggled to deal with Relikh’s power, although worked out the unbeaten challenger mid-rounds to take a foothold in the fight.
Burns frustrated Relikh, along with his trainer Ricky Hatton, and was probably ahead on the WBN scorecard after eight rounds until a big push by the Manchester-based fighter saw the fight head to the judges with the home fans worried.
A perfectly good knockdown ruled out by Howard Foster had the crowd gasping with relief, although they needn’t have been too concerned as the result was read out.
Scores of 118-110 and 116-112 twice handed Burns what will look on paper to be a routine win but doesn’t fully tell the story as Relikh went home seriously hard done by.
With the knockdown, Relikh could have edged the contest 114-113 on the WBN card so how the officials gave it so wide to Burns only they will know. For me, Relikh firmly deserves another crack at Burns should the Scot want to avoid a trip across the Atlantic to battle Adrien Broner.
In the co-feature, Dillian Whyte had too much for a fleshy Ian Lewison to take the vacant British heavyweight title. The battle of Brixton ended after ten rounds as Lewison was busted up despite making it a good fight of it for the first eight rounds.
Also on the bill, Scotty Cardle defended his British lightweight belt for the third time by halting Kevin Hooper in the sixth.