When he arrived to meet the media after retaining his World Boxing Organisation (WBO) lightweight belt on Saturday night, he was clutching a supermarket carrier bag. It took a moment for the jokes about him having just nipped out to do the shopping to register, but then it had never crossed Burns' mind that it might seem odd for a world champion to bring a cheap plastic bag with him to a news conference.
Celebrity is an outlandish concept to Burns, who still works part-time in a Coatbridge sports shop and who celebrated his title success by taking his dog for a walk and indulging in a rare trip out for fast food. He is only able to acknowledge his triumphs as professional achievements. This lack of ego is uncommon in a sport that tends to rely on macho posturing as a selling point.
Even now, two years after he first became a world champion by winning the WBO super-featherweight belt from Roman Martinez, Burns is still disconcerted when he catches sight of his image on posters across Glasgow. The only time he appeared uncomfortable at the SECC last weekend was when a reporter asked him to rank his comprehensive win over Kevin Mitchell among the other victories of his career. "It's just my job," Burns said, looking perplexed.
He is often oblivious to his standing. His trainer, Billy Nelson, must cherish that humble nature, since Burns spurns any fripperies in favour of his training routine and relaxes by playing computer games. There are no excesses to be regretted or overcome. Only his promoter, Frank Warren, might grumble, since the quiet, understated personality is distinct only in its stark contrast to the showmanship that boxing generally trades in.
Warren said repeatedly last weekend that Burns has been underrated. That is true outside of Scotland, but the recognition he now has is more worthy because it was so hard-earned. Fans marvel at Burns' progression and the increasing power that he is adding to his technical expertise and spirited work ethic, rather than the grandstanding typical of so many of his contemporaries.
"As long as I'm fighting regularly and staying active, that's all I'm interested in," Burns said. He ought to be plotting a high-profile career, but is almost sheepish when he talks of his ambition to win the Ring Magazine belt as well as unifying the lightweight world titles. Warren might have felt compelled, though, to veer into blunt realism when he enthusiastically spoke about a contest with Scott Harrison.
Antonio DeMarco, the World Boxing Council (WBC) lightweight champion, and Miguel Vazquez, the International Boxing Federation (IBF) title-holder, are the only two boxers above Burns in the Ring Magazine world rankings. Neither would consider putting those belts at risk against the Scot unless it was a lucrative proposition. Around 10,000 people were at the SECC to watch Burns face Mitchell, but the champion still doesn't carry the same box-office appeal as the likes of Amir Khan.
Yet, he doesn't need Harrison, either. The fight would have local appeal, not least because of the pathos of their careers. Burns used to box on Harrison undercards, but is now the eminent fighter. Nelson was once Peter Harrison's assistant trainer, and worked with the father-and-son team as Scott Harrison reigned as WBO super-featherweight champion. His relationship with Peter Harrison was fraught when the two split.
Scott Harrison's decline was self-inflicted, and there is an element of redemption in the way that he has returned to the ring after seven years, some of which were spent inside a Spanish prison. There is every facet to the contest apart from genuine boxing merit. Harrison looked strong and rugged as he defeated Joe Elfidh on Burns' undercard last Saturday night, but he has yet to recover the devastating menace of his prime. Harrison used to stalk opponents and wear them down with the sheer relentlessness of his aggression. At 35, the wonder is how much of that brutal application he can regather.
Harrison remains popular in Scotland, but Burns can seek out more accomplished opponents. He tends to improve with every contest and his career would be better served by trying to maintain that progression, rather than turning back to the recent past for an opponent.
No Scot has won more world title fights than Harrison, but Burns is only one contest behind that record, with seven to his name. He is creating his own distinctions in the sport's history. They are no less remarkable for being made with humility.
Burns can thrive without facing Harrison, and the latter may no longer be equipped to win the contest anyway. There are other possibilities for both of them.