Ricky Burns focusing on Julius Indongo now - and legacy later - as torrid night lies in wait

Gareth A Davies
The Telegraph
Burns faces an unbeaten, rangy southpaw in Indongo - REUTERS
Burns faces an unbeaten, rangy southpaw in Indongo - REUTERS

Three-weight world champion Ricky Burns can further augment his career legacy on Saturday by adding Namibian dangerman Julius Indongo’s IBF and IBO world titles to his own WBA light-welterweight crown in their unification clash at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow.

Burns is likely, however, to have to come through another torrid night against the heavy puncher.

In May, he became Scotland’s first ever three-weight world title holder, and only the third Briton ever to do so after Bob Fitzsimmons and Duke McKenzie, with an eighth round stoppage win over Italian Michele Di Rocco to claim his current crown. Legacy, though, is something Burns, who turned 34 on Thursday, is not yet ready to contemplate.

“I don't think about what I've done so far and I won't until I hang them up. In my eyes, a fight is a fight," said Burns. "It's always great to go into big fights like this one, but the pressure is big enough in world title fights that I keep things like legacy out of my mind and just focus on what's in front of me. That's the way I’ve always been."

<span>Burns hits the scales ahead of fight night</span> <span>Credit: Reuters </span>
Burns hits the scales ahead of fight night Credit: Reuters

Indeed, when Burns won his first world title at super-featherweight in 2010 he did not give up his part-time work in a sports shop in his beloved Coatbridge and that sense of loyalty and earthiness has only made him more adored by his fans. "When I first started out you always think about winning belts and being in massive fights, but I never set myself any targets," he explained. "I just worked hard and when I got the chances, I took them and it paid off."

In Indongo, 34, Burns faces an unbeaten, rangy southpaw who works full time as a police officer in Windhoek and claimed his world champion status in his own spectacular fashion in December when he travelled to Russia. It was his first fight outside his homeland. That night, he delivered a devastating one-punch knockout - a left hook from nowhere in the opening round - creating a shock victory over champion Eduard Troyanovsky which propelled the African into every analyst's notebook.

Nonetheless, Indongo is aware that many critics have dismissed his triumphant Russian sojourn as a fluke. This fight trip to Scotland, insists the man who uses his holiday time to train and fight, was to prove that he is 'the real deal'.

<span>Burns fights Jose Gonzalez in 2013</span> <span>Credit: Getty Images </span>
Burns fights Jose Gonzalez in 2013 Credit: Getty Images

“We are not that well recognised in the world of boxing but I warn you – do not underestimate us, because that's what happened in Moscow," Indongo said this week. "I’ve heard what they’ve been saying. They said it was a lucky punch that floored Troyanovsky. It’s always easy to talk. Bring Burns in front of me and we will see who is the best.“

He added: “Fighting away from home has never been a problem. I know that we cannot host as huge an event as this in South Africa so I am always prepared to travel. There's only Ricky and me in the ring, the fans will have no effect on me."

Burns, though, will feed off his partisan supporters. "This is a big, big night, the biggest I've had. We spoke about unification fights at super-featherweight and lightweight and now it's here - and I can't wait. There were easier fights out there and maybe even more lucrative fights, but this is the fight I wanted. I'm confident that things will go well.”

Victory for Burns could bring a rematch with American Terence Crawford, the weight division's No 1 fighter, who holds the WBC and WBO belts. Burns was defeated on a wide points decision by Crawford in Glasgow - at lightweight - in 2014. It is a rematch the Scotsman has on his bucket list.

Before that, though, Burns must come through an early onslaught from the tall fighter, who is dangerous early, but the Scotsman will have been expertly prepared by trainer Tony Sims to take Indongo into the late rounds. I see Burns making history again and winning a tough fight on points.

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