Scotland’s only three-weight world champion returns to the ring tonight as he attempts to add the IBF light welterweight title to the WBA belt he currently owns. At 34, Ricky Burns is competing in his 48th professional fight this evening, and he has come a long way from the timid and underrated man who made his debut in 2001.
Burns faces another 34-year-old tonight, and Julius Indongo has arrived in Glasgow in electric form, after winning his IBF title in just 40 seconds against Eduard Troyanovsky last December in Moscow.
That fight signified the very first time that Indongo had fought outside of Namibia, but he ignored a hostile crowd to demolish the home favourite in the blink of an eye.
Scottish fans will be desperately hoping that Burns does not suffer the same fate tonight, and their hero has suffered from slow starts throughout his career. One of Burns’ most admired attributes is his desire however, and he has consistently defied the odds throughout a multitude of matches.
Few expected him to even win a British title after a slow start to professional life, but his world title victory over Roman Martinez in September 2010 lit fire to his status as a bona fide championship level boxer.
Subsequent victories over the likes of Kevin Mitchell, Paulus Moses and Kiryl Relikh proved his worth at the top level, and he has endured as one of Britain’s most statistically successful fighters of all time.
The fact that Burns is still in the hunt for world honours at this stage in his life is especially remarkable considering the turmoil he has gone through in recent years. A costly court case loss to Frank Warren damaged him both financially and personally, while between May 2013 and August 2015, he won just two fights, and lost three times against admittedly world class opponents.
Desire and resilience continually define Burns however, and slowly but surely his confidence began to return, peaking with a third world title victory over Michele Di Rocco last year, at the same venue he will be competing at tonight.
Burns is the betting favourite with odds of 8/15 against the 7/4 to Indongo, with the general perception from boxing insiders seeming to believe that if Burns can whether the early storm, he can control the bout on points.
Despite his incredible victory over Eduard Troyanovsky, there are still mysteries surrounding Julius Indongo. Prior to his Russian exploits, he had never faced an established boxing name, and instead seemed happy to box two or three times a year at the Windhoek Country Club Resort in Namibia.
His knockout victory against Troyanovsky was also surprising because he only had a 50% stoppage rate prior to the fight.
Burns and his training team have struggled to find much footage of Indongo, but the Scottish champion has struggled with southpaws before. Indongo is full of confidence and seemingly won’t be swayed by even the passionate roar of a Glasgow crowd, so Burns can’t look past his opponent despite the open questions regarding his past.
Scott Cardle defends his British lightweight title on the undercard against Robbie Barrett, while Charlie Edwards and Iain Butcher compete for the vacant British super flyweight belt.
Elsewhere, Rio 2016 Olympian Lawrence Okolie fights professionally for the second time, while fellow Olympic star Josh Kelly makes his debut.