RICKY BURNS, the former world lightweight champion, smiled yesterday at the suggestion that his career will effectively be over if he fails to make a winning comeback against the Montenegrin Dejan Zlaticanin at Braehead Arena tomorrow evening.
Eddie Hearn, Burns' promoter, believes that defeat would result in the 31-year-old former World Boxing Organisation title-holder being downgraded to the level of domestic and European contestant - at best.
Burns suspects that Hearn is playing mind games in the hope that the Coatbridge man will benefit from a spot of reverse psychology in the wake of his defeat by Terence Crawford four months ago when he goes in pursuit of the World Boxing Council international lightweight title.
Burns, whose pre-fight head-to-head press conference was overshadowed to a large extent yesterday by a renewal of hostilities between bitter cruiserweight rivals Stephen Simmons and Wadi Camacho, who meet on the undercard, said: "I think Eddie is just trying to make sure I go out and produce the performance we all know I am capable of.
"Some people might say if I lose it will set me back, but I am not looking at it that way, or putting any more pressure on myself. Some fighters say every fight could be your last but I've never thought that way. Sure, anything can happen in boxing, but the last 12 weeks have been great in the gym. We've worked on different things and you will see them coming out as the fight progresses."
Tony Sims, who has replaced Billy Nelson as Burns' trainer, also believes his charge has the desire to get back on top of the world following his first defeat for more than seven years. "It's about desire and Ricky still has plenty of hunger," he said.
Simmons and Camacho picked up where they had left off six months ago by indulging in fresh invective as the hors d'oeuvre for the latter's defence of his World Boxing Council international silver cruiserweight title.
Simmons and Spanish-born Camacho, who is based in London, traded insults for several minutes after the Edinburgh man had twice picked up his chair and walked the length of the top table before positioning himself directly in front of his rival.
Having been angered by his rival's insults on social media, Simmons confessed that he had deliberately set out to goad him. "It went exactly how I hoped," said the undefeated 29-year-old. "I looked him straight in the eyes and he totally crumbled. His bottom lip was trembling and he was talking garbage, trying to insult me in Spanish, so I know I have got him where I want him. He's scared."
Camacho, already unpopular with Scottish supporters, said: "They can boo me all they like as it's exactly what I want to get me going. So the more they hate me the better."