Few athletes ever receive the perfect career send-off and even fewer are as patient as Ricky Burns has been in making his valedictory moment happen at all.

In an ideal world the former three-weight world champion would have brought down the curtain on a stellar career a few years ago at a sold-out Hydro, perhaps competing for one more title before calling it a day.

Best laid plans and all that. Instead Covid and an ill-fated deal with Probellum, the short-lived and quickly forgotten promotional firm, have kept Burns waiting for the hometown farewell he has craved for so long.

Now 40 years old, others would have given up on such a romantic notion a while back but the ageing process that hurries many into retirement has not blighted Burns whose insatiable work ethic and commitment to the cause mean he remains as unspeakably healthy now as he was at his peak.

Burns is Coatbridge to his core but it is Glasgow where his greatest moments in the ring were forged; the stunning performance against Roman Martinez in the Kelvin Hall when he became world champion for the first time, the sensational fourth-round stoppage of Kevin Mitchell, and even going the distance with Terence Crawford. Not many have done that since.  

Burns hasn’t fought in Glasgow since 2017 – a disappointing points loss to Julius Indongo that effectively marked the beginning of the end for him – but he will scratch that itch at long last on Friday night with what will surely be his final appearance in the ring in a highly-anticipated match-up with another of Scottish boxing’s great survivors, Willie Limond, at the Braehead Arena (that Limond, mischievously, has pointed out is technically in Renfrewshire and not Glasgow).

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Cynics will dismiss the headline event as a glorified sparring session between two old pals past their best but Burns’ insistence that the fight takes place over 12 rounds at a weight of his choosing underlines how seriously he is taking it, even against a 44 year-old opponent who, like him, has fought just once over the past four years.

Limond never quite scaled the heights that Burns managed in his career but a boxing CV that includes British, Commonwealth and European title successes underlines his pedigree. His greatest achievement ahead of this fight, he admits, has been shifting the excess four stone required but there is little prospect of him taking it easy in what could also be his final professional fight.

Burns and Limond are coaches and fitness trainers more than they are boxers these days and their influence can be found throughout a stacked nine-contest undercard that includes two Commonwealth Games medalists plus two Scottish title fights.

Jack Turner will put his undefeated record on the line when he faces Andy Tham for the featherweight strap, while Martin Crossan and Andrew Smart head into the ring to compete for the super-lightweight belt. Then it will be time for the two old warhorses to put it all on the line one final time in front of a 3000-plus crowd and many more watching at home on the BBC.

“It’s going to be a terrific showcase for Scottish boxing,” said promoter Iain Wilson of the St Andrew’s Sporting Club. “We’re going ahead with 10 contests overall, including the two fights for Scottish titles.

“There was a bit of needle between both sets of boxers at the weigh-in for the title fights so that all adds a bit of spice to what is going to be a very special night. Everyone’s really looking forward to the main event and it’s a chance to see two of the greats of Scottish boxing in what could well be their final appearances in the ring. Ricky always wanted to have one last fight at home and now he’s getting that chance.

“Both of the guys have put in so much work to get ready for this fight, especially Willie. There’s a lot of respect between the guys but, make no mistake, both will be desperate to win it in front of a large crowd. It’s going to be a cracking night.”