One More for the Road: Ricky Burns says, “I’m happy to walk away”

BN: Why are you fighting again?
RB: I’ve always wanted to have one last big night in Glasgow before I retire from boxing. The support I received and the memorable nights I had here were incredible. If this is my final fight, I’ll be able to walk away from boxing feeling content. I’ve had a successful career, and having one more fight in Glasgow is a dream come true.

BN: Can you confidently say this will be your last fight?
RB: Well, if my wife has her way, it definitely will be. She wasn’t even keen on me doing this fight. I understand her perspective. I’m 40 years old, and I’ve had over 50 fights, some of them really challenging. When I started my boxing career, I made a promise to myself that I would continue as long as I wasn’t taking too many punches. While I’ve had tough fights, I never took excessive damage. If this fight is indeed my last, I can leave with my head held high, knowing I haven’t suffered much harm. Besides, I’ve already begun working on the next phase of my career, training professional boxers and setting up my own gym in Coatbridge. Things are looking promising.

BN: Are there any particularly tough fights that stand out to you?
RB: When we went to Texas for the fight against Omar Figueroa, it was my first fight in the light-welterweight division. Stepping into the ring, I was shocked by the size difference. Our plan was to stick to boxing and movement, but when you face someone that much bigger and with such presence, you have no choice but to stand your ground and fight. The next day, when we flew home, I remember being in a bad shape at the airport and on the plane.

BN: What led you to start training fighters?
RB: My original plan was always to have my own gym. When the lockdown happened and fights were being discussed and falling through, my wife suggested I start getting my coaching badges while waiting. I decided to give Craig McEvoy at Boxing Scotland a call, and I ended up coaching there as well.

BN: How do you reflect on your boxing career?
RB: I’ve never claimed to be the best technical boxer, and I’ve always admitted that. However, whenever I entered the ring, I always gave it my all. I knew that I was physically prepared for a hard 12 rounds and capable of standing my ground and fighting if necessary. My greatest attribute as a fighter is my stubbornness because I’ve faced opponents who were far better than me. I have this determination to never back down, and I believe that’s my best quality.

BN: Did you watch the fight between Errol Spence and Terence Crawford?
RB: I still don’t watch boxing unless it involves someone I know personally.

BN: Do you feel proud of having gone the distance with Terence Crawford, who is now regarded as the best fighter in the world?
RB: After that fight, I received a lot of criticism. People were telling me to retire and that I was finished. Now, seeing what Crawford has achieved, knocking out almost everyone he’s faced, people are starting to realize just how good he is. But I faced a lot of backlash for that fight.

BN: Do you think you have received enough credit for your career?
RB: I’m not one to boast about myself. For years, I treated boxing as my job. I went in, fought, got paid, and asked for the next fight date. That’s how I approached boxing. I’ve never been one to brag or pay attention to whether I receive enough credit. People often tell me that I deserve more recognition, but I don’t focus on it.

BN: Have there been any moments in your career when you’ve thought about quitting?
RB: During the lockdown, it wasn’t that I thought, “This is it, I’ve had enough.” It was more about realizing that my boxing career was coming to an end. Fights were being discussed, promised, and then falling through, which was disheartening. That’s when I decided to focus on coaching and start the next chapter of my life.

BN: In your all-Scottish fight against Willie Limond in Glasgow, do you anticipate a brawl breaking out at some point?
RB: I wouldn’t say that. I approached this fight like any other. I’ve told people that I don’t watch my opponents before fighting them. It’s funny because even when I fought Terence Crawford, I didn’t watch any of his fights either. During my amateur years with Rab Bannan, we would attend shows without knowing who we were going to fight. We just adapted as the fights came. That’s the mindset I brought into the professional game. As long as I knew I had trained hard in the gym, I didn’t care who I was up against.

BN: Given your love for fighting, will it be easy for you to retire?
RB: People think I’m crazy, but I genuinely love fighting. For me, the actual fighting is the best part. If I were taking too many punches, the story would be different, and I wouldn’t continue. But fighting is the highlight for me, and there’s nothing quite like it. It’s difficult to explain. I understand why some fighters retire for a year or two and then come back. The love for it never leaves you. If this is indeed my last fight, I’ll be happy to retire. However, I won’t deny that there will always be that small part of me that says, “Just one more.” I might continue sparring occasionally, but nothing intense. If you’re in the gym and still moving well, that thought of another fight lingers in your mind. But I have always said that once I officially retire, that’s it, no more comebacks.

BN: Have you experienced any lasting effects or signs of damage from having 53 fights?
RB: The main difference I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older is the recovery time. That’s the biggest change. When you train, you’re always sore, but now, my legs are constantly in pain. People ask me how I’m feeling, and I usually say, “I’m exhausted!” But it’s just one of those things, and you learn to cope with it.

BN: What advice would you give to someone entering the professional boxing world?
RB: The most crucial aspect is training. Waiting for fights can be challenging, but as long as you stay in the gym and keep yourself active and fit, it makes a difference. My motto is always to stay fit for six rounds. If you receive a short-notice call, as an up-and-coming boxer, you have to take those fights. So, my advice would be to keep yourself in the gym, constantly ticking over. Boxing should be a way of life, not something you only prepare for when you have a fight scheduled. Always keep yourself in shape.

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