IN a sport built on hyperbole and hysteria, Ricky Burns remains boxing’s outlier.

To those who insist that braggadocio posturing is the only way a fighter can flourish in the social media era, then they only need to look at the case study of the modest, unassuming guy from Coatbridge who went on to become a three-weight world champion. Trash talking in the Burns household is when they decide whose turn it is to drag the wheelie bin to the kerb.

Who knows whether Burns would have enjoyed a higher profile both at home and overseas if he had been more outlandish and brash in his behaviour but it is simply not in his nature. His success has been built on a simple love of boxing which explains why, at the age of 38, he will return to the ring on Saturday evening for what will be his 53rd professional fight.

It has been more than two years since his last outing, a combination of Covid restrictions and other opportunities falling through explaining his subsequent inactivity. His comeback contest takes place not in Glasgow, as had been originally intended, but in Sunderland where he will compete under the Probellum promotional banner for the first time on a card broadcast live on Freesports.

The announcement that he would be taking on the Argentine Emiliano Dominguez came as a surprise to many who thought he had already hung up the gloves. Burns, though, says he will only call it a day when he feels like he’s had enough and ideally not before he gets the Glasgow farewell he desperately craves.

“When people found out I was fighting again they were saying to me, ‘I thought you had retired!’,” he reveals. “I think it’s just because there have been no fights announced for me, although there were always talks.

“I’ve always said that I’ll know when it’s time to call it a day. If I’m getting a pasting in sparring or if I’m struggling to get up in the morning to go to the track when the weather’s terrible, then that’s when I’ll decide enough is enough. But I still enjoy training and I still want to fight.

“Although I’ve not boxed for two years I’ve still kept myself fit and been training away. There were fights that were meant to happen that fell through. I admit there were a couple of times when I wondered if I would ever fight again. But I’ve been in the gym waiting for my chance and can’t wait to get the gloves back on.”

Burns’ previous fight was a points loss to Lee Selby who was then defeated by George Kambosos who, in turn, went on to shock Teofimo Lopez recently to claim three lightweight world titles, demonstrating again that boxing careers can ignite or fade away on the outcome of just one fight.

The days of Burns competing for major titles again would seem to be over, his biggest aspiration now to fight in front of a home crowd for one last time.

“Nothing has been confirmed yet for me next year,” he adds. “My first fight for Probellum was meant to be still [tonight] but on the Josh Taylor undercard at the Hydro.

“Obviously Josh’s fight has been postponed until February, so if this fight goes well for me it will be a short break over Christmas then straight back in the gym hoping I get the phone call.

“It would be so good if I could get on that card. I’ve had so many big nights in Glasgow throughout my career and I would love to get another one before I finally call it a day. But we’ll take it one fight at a time and see where I end up.”

Fellow Coatbridge boy Mark McKeown is also competing on the same card on Saturday night, the pair now training together out of the Keir Hardie gym in Newarthill. For Burns it has meant a break from years of driving back and forth to Essex to train.

“At the start of the year I was helping Mark out with sparring and got to meet his coaches. With me being based up in Scotland now, I asked if they would be up for training me and they were so it’s been great.

“When my wee boy was born, that was when I first teamed up with Tony Sims down south. So I was back and forth constantly. With Covid and the rest of it, this is the longest I’ve been at home for the last eight years and I’m enjoying it. The gym is only 10 minutes from the house which is ideal.”

Being based back in Scotland has also given Burns the opportunity to move into coaching, something he hopes to do more of going forward.

“I’ve been helping out with Boxing Scotland, coaching their amateur team. I’ve been doing that for the last seven or eight months and been on trips with them to Serbia and Russia. They’re based in Glasgow so I help out there a couple of days a week.

“All the lads are keen to learn and like to pick your brains. It was weird initially getting them ready for sparring, lacing up their gloves, doing their corners and giving them a drink as it’s normally someone else doing that for me! But I’m totally used to it now being on the other side.”

He is not quite so sure about the burgeoning boxing career of eight-year-old Leon Burns who he has been trying to convince to stick to less dangerous pursuits.

“He plays for a football team but a few months ago started going to Keir Hardie twice a week. I don’t encourage it one bit! But if he comes in for school and says he wants to go, then I’ll take him. But hopefully he sticks in at football.”

When Burns does finally retire, the tributes will be fulsome and well-deserved. The man himself, however, sums it up in typically low-key fashion.

“I know when I officially decide that enough is enough then I know that I can look back and say I did alright. Getting up in the morning and doing something you love – that’s what it’s all about.”