RICKY BURNS, the former World Boxing Organisation lightweight champion from Coatbridge, will return to the ring on September 13 in an eight-round non-title contest - probably at light-welterweight - in Manchester on a bill promoted by Eddie Hearn.
The 31-year-old Scot suffered a second successive costly defeat last Friday at Braehead Arena, where he was out-pointed by Dejan Zlaticanin, of Montenegro, for the vacant World Boxing Council International lightweight title. Burns' fourth career loss just four months after he relinquished his world crown to Terence Crawford, of America, put paid to the prospect of challenging WBC champion Omar Figeuroa and a third championship belt.
Hearn is clearly keen to find out what Burns has left in the tank. He has appeared jaded in his four bouts since switching promoters from Frank Warren and the suspicion must be that the prospect of impending court proceedings brought by the London fight promoter, sighting breach of contract, is weighing heavily on the boxer's mind.
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Prior to losing to Zlaticanin, Burns' defeat by Crawford was his third performance since coming under Matchroom's promotional banner. His title was very much on the line when he fought Jose Gonzalez in May last year until the Puerto Rican inexplicably quit while ahead on points after nine rounds, complaining of a wrist injury.
In his next defence, four months later, Burns suffered a broken jaw in the second round against Raymundo Beltran, of Mexico, but somehow summoned up the courage to survive the remaining 10 rounds and retain his crown, by dint of a controversial draw, before Crawford subsequently ended his reign.
The Scot's manager, Alex Morrison, who suspects that weight has also become an issue, said yesterday: "Ricky will very probably come back at light-welterweight after I advised him to move up.
"If all goes well, he will then have a fight, in Glasgow, in November or December, for a domestic title of some description. After three indifferent performances there is no way we could bring him back at world level."