Ricky Burns: Where does Scotland's former world champion go from here?

By Keir MurrayBBC Scotland
Ricky Burns says he'll be back after losing to 'better man' Julius Indongo

So here's what we know: Ricky Burns is not the best boxer in the world fighting at 10 stone.

That much was obvious as he was easily undone by Namibia's Julius Indongo over 12 rounds of their unification contest at Glasgow's SSE Hydro on Saturday.

He possessed neither the speed nor skill-set to counteract the 34-year-old IBF world super-lightweight champion's southpaw stance, rapid attacks and clever footwork.

And, to the dismay of Burns' 8,500 fans in the arena, Scotland's first three-weight world champion paid for it, in what he had said was the biggest fight of his career, by losing his WBA title.

Burns, who turned 34 on Thursday, spoke to reporters in the early hours of Sunday morning, nursing a bruised face.

"The better man won on the night," he said with trademark honesty.

"I'm devastated, I've lost my title. He was a lot better than we thought he was going to be. He could punch; my head is thumping."

Julius Indongo is named the winner
Julius Indongo won the contest comfortably on points at Glasgow's SSE Hydro on Saturday

The painful reality for this popular figure is that the man holding the other two main belts, the WBC and WBO versions, America's unbeaten Terence Crawford, won handsomely on points against Burns at lightweight just over three years ago.

Burns remains fit, if not fitter, than fighters a decade younger, he has 48 contests' worth of experience and a sincere hunger to continue. He is not about to retire.

'I'm not finished yet'

The Crawford and Indongo defeats share some common themes.

The Nebraskan switched to southpaw during that WBO world lightweight title bout, which was Burns' first loss in seven years. He too got his punches away more quickly and dished out too much punishment for the judges to be in any doubt about who was the victor.

What didn't happen in the more recent of the two was Burns being pinned against the ropes. His punishment came in flurries in the middle of the ring.

Burns took on the fight against Indongo aware of the risk to his career, but admittedly unsure of just how good was his opponent, who has now won all 22 of his fights since turning professional after the 2008 Olympics.

"He was more awkward than we thought he was going to be," said Burns, in his 17th year as a pro.

Terence Crawford v Ricky Burns
Terence Crawford has gone from strength to strength since beating Burns in Glasgow three years ago

"He was playing with distance a lot. I didn't want to over-commit because if he was catching me with his left hand on the counter, he would have taken me out.

"I've still got a few years in me, a few big nights left. I'm not finished yet. I am not afraid to lose but just now is not nice."

Burns declared that he was "not entertaining" an all-Scottish fight against the Commonwealth champion, Prestonpans' Josh Taylor.

Promoter Eddie Hearn suggested a fight against Manchester's Anthony Crolla, at ringside on Saturday and who recently failed in his bid to regain his WBA lightweight crown, was an option, though it looks much less likely now.

'He can come back from this'

Hearn said: "The only reason Crolla would go up to light-welterweight (super-lightweight) was to fight Ricky. It's a big domestic fight. The styles would gel for a great fight."

With Burns ruling out a return to the dietary strains of making lightweight and with there being "too many beasts at welterweight", the most likely scenario is that he stays at 140lb and that Hearn and trainer Tony Sims seek a bout against a credible, high-ranking opponent to jockey the Coatbridge man into fighting for a world title for a 14th time.

"Tonight he lost a unification fight to a very good world champion," said Hearn. "He can come back from this.

"Ricky Burns will want to fight if it's a four-rounder at Bethnal Green. It's up to me and Tony to make sure that doesn't happen.

Ricky Burns and Julius Indongo
Ricky Burns admitted he did not know just how good Julius Indongo was

"It wasn't like he got battered, he was just outskilled by the better fighter. We'll find a better style for Ricky. That was the worst style for him but it was his best chance to unify the division. (Adrien) Broner is still chasing a fight with Ricky. He is going to get multiple offers to go out to the States."

Burns has espoused the same attitude for years. On countless occasions he has said he will fight anyone put in front of him.

"It would be great to get another big night up here but if we do get a good offer to go to America I am more than up for it," he said.

And, with that, he went to embrace his wife, Amanda, and enjoy a few weeks' rest. Few would grudge him the break, or a big Las Vegas pay day before he calls it a day.

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