Opinion: Ricky Burns is the most underrated British fighter of the 2000s

A three-division world champion, there is no doubt Ricky Burns should be regarded as a British legend and he deserves more love from the casual fans than he received in his prime.

Ricky Burns - Scotland's only three division champion - probably has not reached the dizzy heights of other high-profile competitors because of his resistance to talk out of line or chuck a table in the air but when it comes to achievements, he is the most underrated, underappreciated British fighter of the 2000s.

Unafraid to test himself and put his career on the line time and time again, Burns - who has not fought since 2019 - is a real throwback.

Two early career defeats for "Rickster" against eventual world champion Alex Arthur and Carl Johanneson in 2006 and 2007 respectively, saw him split from trainer Rob Bannon of 14 years.

While it was a tough decision for Burns, it proved to be the right move with the Scot racking up 21 wins on the spin, including two world titles.

His first taste of world glory was in 2010 against Roman Martinez - the defending champion - who was an overwhelming favourite going into the contest by bookmakers.

After Burns hit the deck in the opening round, there seemed like only one winner.

However, using some of that Scottish grit and determination, Burns frustrated the Puerto Rican fighter and had huge success with landing right uppercuts to overcome the storm and earn a unanimous decision.

Three successful defences followed, including victory over former titleholder Nicky Cook before moving up to 135-pounds. Outpointing Michael Katsidis, Burns won the WBO interim lightweight championship.

Rather than challenge for the WBO full version, he was named as world champion after Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez moved up in weight.

Ricky Burns (left) with trainer Tony Simms after victory over Scott Cardle in their Lightweight contest at Manchester Arena in 2018
Ricky Burns (left) with trainer Tony Simms after victory over Scott Cardle in their Lightweight contest at Manchester Arena in 2018

The most notable win during his reign for British fans was his knockout stoppage of Kevin Mitchell.

Considered a small lightweight, Burns used the Glasgow crowd to his strength and knocked Mitchell out inside four rounds.

A unification defeat to Terance Crawford soon followed in 2014 and while he was outclassed, he hardly disgraced himself against the American, who is now in some people's eyes the best fighter in world boxing right now.

With another three defeats in four, it looked like curtains for Burns on a world level. Promoter Eddie Hearn had even admitted his time at world level was done after being on the wrong side of a split-decision verdict to Dejan Zlaticanin

The Coatbridge boxer defied all odds once again, though, adding more history to his exceptional career by overcoming Michele Di Rocco of Italy for the WBA light welterweight strap in front of a partisan crowd at the SSE Arena in Glasgow.

Burns completed an incredible 2016 by outpointing Kiryl Relikh via unanimous decision.

He was unable to unify the division in his next fight as he tasted a points defeat to Julius Indongo - who then lost to "Bud" Crawford in an undisputed showdown at 140-pounds.

Burns has since offered fans more entertaining clashes with British rivals Anthony Crolla and Lee Selby.

The latter was his last fight in April 2019 and while it could mean the end of a sensational career, you just can't rule out what the Scot will do next.

There is no doubt Burns is a British legend.

Latest Boxing Videos