Ricky Burns hinted that he would continue boxing after losing his WBA super-lightweight belt to Julius Indongo in a unification clash at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow on Saturday night.
The 34-year-old was outclassed in a unanimous points decision – one of the judges awarded Indongo all 12 rounds – but Scotland’s first three-weight world champion suggested post-fight that a tough night against the awkward and rangy southpaw from Namibia would not be his last in the ring.
“The better man won, no excuses; he was so, so awkward,” said Burns. “He was a lot better than we thought he was going to be. He can hit as well – he caught me a few times in there.
“I’ll go again, I’m going to have all the doubters saying ‘Oh, Ricky’s finished’, but we’ll sit down with Eddie [Hearn, his promoter] and work out what’s next.
“But I’ll come again. We wanted to feel his power – we wanted to take the sting out of him. I just couldn’t get over his height and reach advantage.”
The impressive Indongo extended his own record to 22-0 and now holds the IBF, IBO and WBA titles.
Indongo had made a cut-throat sign to Burns at the weigh-in on Friday afternoon at the St Enoch centre in Glasgow, but there appeared to be little real niggle between the two fighters in the build-up to the encounter.
Burns was on the back foot from the first bell as Indongo came in swinging, marking the cheek of the Coatbridge fighter in the first round, albeit it may have come from a clash of heads. The African connected with a couple of fine left hooks in the second and kept Burns on the retreat, although the home fighter’s defence was solid enough.
Burns showcased more of his talent in the next couple of rounds and the fans came alive in the sixth when a thumping right hand found its way through but Indongo’s reach advantage continued to pose problems.
The man from Namibia looked to be running out of steam which made it easier for Burns to connect and the seventh was his best round with a couple of good combinations no doubt impressing the judges.
The fans sensed the contest might be turning towards their man but Indongo responded in the eighth with some powerful rights and once again Burns was on the defensive and looking ill at ease.
In the final round Burns fell to the floor. It was deemed a slip but a sense of foreboding enveloped the arena, confirmed by the judges’ scorecards.
“I feel very proud to take the titles back to Namibia,” said Indongo, pictured. “It’s so amazing, it’s for all of Africa, I’m so happy. I’m very happy for the fans that came in numbers.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn is confident that Burns can come back from what was the sixth defeat in his career from 48 bouts. Hearn has predicted more big fights in the future for the Scot, highlighting the defeat to Dejan Zlaticanin in their battle for the WBC International lightweight title in Glasgow three years ago as a reference point.
He said: “He can come back. It’s not like after the Zlaticanin fight. Back then Ricky was about ten levels below where he is now. That felt like the end of the world. This time he’s lost a unification fight to a world champion. If he can come back from Zlaticanin, he can come back from this. There are big fights out there for Ricky. It’s up to us to make sure he’s in those big fights.”