Ricky Hatton reckons Ricky Burns deserves to crown his career with a dream Las Vegas pay-day – but warned that his student Kiryl Relikh could snatch it all away.
Burns takes on the undefeated Belarusian in Glasgow on 7 October, with the bout expected to be the final stepping stone towards a Stateside showdown with Adrien Broner.
Burns has never hidden his desire to join the list of boxing greats who have made their name in Sin City.
Hatton – who both trains and promotes powerful 26-year-old Relikh – believes Burns, 33, has earned the right to such a career-defining date after becoming Scotland’s first three-weight world champion with his victory over Michele Di Rocco in May.
With that triumph, Burns claimed the WBA super-lightweight title, but as much as it pains him to say it, Hatton is convinced the belt will soon be resting round the waist of his fighter.
“The Hitman” said: “What a wonderful career Ricky has had and for him not to fight in Vegas would be a crying shame. As a boxer we always dream of fighting in Vegas and I’m sure Ricky wants to tick that box.
“But I just don’t think he’s ever going to get there now.
“I’m a proud Brit and whenever our lads are fighting, whether it be Anthony Joshua, Kell Brook or Ricky Burns, I’ll always be in their corner as a fan. But I’m up against Ricky this time. It’s a strange one for me. Ricky’s not on speed dial but I consider him family when it comes to British boxing circles.
“This is a fight I’m really looking forward to. Kiryl is massively confident. He just doesn’t think he’s just going to be a world champion – he thinks he’s going to be a superstar. He keeps telling me, ‘I’m going to be where Golovkin is’.
“I’ve worked hard for my reputation. I wouldn’t stick it on the line if he wasn’t up to it. He’s the real deal. He even told me he will be better than I was – that’s confidence.
“I firmly believe he’s going to break a few Scottish hearts.”
Burns confessed he still dreams of ending his career on one of the great stages of boxing but is refusing to get too excited about a future clash with Broner while he has business to attend to on home soil. The Scot knows that he has to take it one fight at a time and won’t be letting his thoughts drift too seriously to Vegas.
“Broner actually sent a tweet out telling me to get the job done then me and him can go at it,” explained Burns. “I don’t really like looking beyond opponents but I know that fight has been talked about for a while.
“I’ve boxed in America before and it was good – but a wee trip out to Vegas would be nice.
“There are a few different names talked about – all top names – that could happen in America but Kiryl has got my full attention for now.”
Burns would be foolish to take Relikh lightly, that’s for sure. He is an opponent who has so far knocked out 19 of the 21 men he has beaten since turning professional in 2011.
The Scot is well aware of the task facing him at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow next month.
He said: “We’re expecting a hard night. I’ve only watched a few of his rounds but my trainer Tony Sims has seen quite a bit of him, so we know he is a big puncher. It doesn’t matter the level of opposition he’s up against, he’s still knocking these guys out, so obviously he can punch and we’ve got to respect that.
“Whenever we get one of these opponents I always say to the guys, ‘It’s a good job I don’t mind getting hit in the face – just as long as it’s not too much’,
“I’ve been in with so many big punchers before and have always been okay. My chin is up to the job. I just need to make sure my hands are up, chin is down and then take it from there.”