If he successfully defends his WBO lightweight title against Raymundo Beltran on Saturday, he will equal the record number of world title successes by a Scottish boxer, which is currently held by Scott Harrison.
Burns could yet surpass a fighter whose ferocity of spirit was eventually consumed by the darker elements of his psyche. A less tortured individual, Burns could yet establish himself as peerless among Scottish boxers, but there will always be battles to fight.
His trainer, Billy Nelson, believes Burns does not receive the recognition he deserves. In his last fight, Burns was behind on points against Jose Gonzalez - and survived a fierce seventh round which he later described as the toughest in his career - but was regaining the upper hand when Gonzaelz quit with a wrist injury. Burns later reflected that he had not been at his best, but if the outcome was a reprieve, it was also the result of his own refusal to accept defeat.
Nelson uses the analogy of Scotland fighting back from 2-0 down against Brazil to win 3-2 to make the point that the football team would still be the subject of acclaim months later, whilst Burns fell back into his low profile.
This, though, may suit Burns, since he has never been comfortable with hype or pretension. He is committed to his trade, has an unquenchable work ethic, and enjoys a stable private life. His wife Amanda gave birth to the couple's first child on Thursday morning, but becoming a father to his as yet unnamed son has not disrupted Burns' training regime.
Beltran is not the best or toughest opponent that Burns has faced, but it is an opportunity to reassert his authority on the division. There are higher profile fights awaiting, not least the possibility of unifying the division, and perhaps challenging for the Ring magazine belt that has always been his personal goal, if his promoter Eddie Hearn can arrange a contest with Miguel Vazquez, the IBF champion.
"He's very good [at managing his frustration]," Nelson said of Burns. "If I had to say something then I would say something, but we genuinely would like unification fights. If we win this fight then we equal Scott Harrison's world title successes, and we've not drawn or got beaten yet, like Scott did. And there's more to come. We know this will be a hard fight, but if we win it and the next one is - just for talking's sake - against Vazquez to become the IBF champion, unifying titles, winning the Ring magazine belt and breaking the world title wins record by a Scotsman, what a defining fight that would be. And would Ricky get the recognition he deserves then?
"I would like to see unification fights now. I'd love to fight Vazquez, then I'd possibly like to see Ricky move up a weight, to try to win a third world title, which he's more than capable of. It's through no fault of his own [that he has not fought as regularly as he might]. He'd be willing to go into the ring tomorrow to fight for the Ring magazine belt, it's up to the people who promote him to get these fights. There have been fights that have never happened."
Nelson has been an astute and impressive trainer to Burns, honing his talent and applying tactical acumen that has proved decisive against some top-class opponents. This would be the fourth defence of Burns' lightweight title, against an older opponent who has not reached the same heights in his career as Burns. With the backing of a partisan crowd at Glasgow's SECC, Burns ought to prevail, and even Hearn rated it as a 70/30 fight, although only if Burns is properly focused.
Fatherhood aside, though, the champion has little time for distractions. He usually returns to the gym soon after a fight, just to keep his fitness ticking over, and he is wholly committed to his specific 12-week training programmes ahead of each contest. Burns was left with some regrets despite his win over Gonzalez, and Saturday's contest will give him the chance to put them in the past.
"Everything's gone fine," Nelson said of Burns' training. "It's coincided with Ricky's wife's pregnancy, in fact it's gone toe to toe with it, but we couldn't have been happier with the sparring. Ricky had a good rest after his last fight, and he's been absolutely thriving on it. To be fair to Amanda, she only stopped working two weeks before her due date, then she went [into labour] two weeks after the date. It's only been the last couple of days it's been a wee bit [hectic], but all the hard work's already been done. Ricky's taken it all in his stride. You wouldn't know he'd just had a baby."