Eddie Hearn thought he had seen the last of Ricky Burns when he surrendered his world lightweight title.
But after watching the Coatbridge fighter drag himself back to the summit of world boxing the promoter is refusing to put a limit on Burns’ possibilities.
The ‘Rickster’ faces Namibian Julius Indongo in Glasgow on Saturday night in what he describes as the biggest fight of his career, with the unified super-lightweight world championship on the line.
Burns – who turned 34 on Thursday – will defend his WBA title against the unbeaten holder of the IBO and IBF straps as he bids to become Scotland’s first ever unified champion. But Hearn admits he struggled to see Burns ever returning to highest stage after watching his sudden fall from grace three years ago.
The Matchroom chief reckoned Burns was done after letting his WBO lightweight crown slip from his grasp with defeat to Terence Crawford in March 2014 before losing out to Dejan Zlaticanin for the vacant WBC belt three months later.
However, Burns refused to pack away his ring ambitions and beat Michele Di Rocco 12 months ago to re-ignite his career with his third world title triumph.
Hearn made the mistake of writing him off once before, but with a possible Vegas showdown against American Adrian Broner the carrot if he can emerge victorious this weekend, he has vowed never to do it again.
“He’s 34 today but he doesn’t look it, does he?,” smiled the match-maker. “He’s looking well. However, after the fights with (Raymundo) Beltran, Crawford and the Zlaticanin, he looked like a broken man in all honesty. I wasn’t sure if he’d ever come back after that Zlaticanin loss.
“But the fight with Omar Figueroa was the best thing that could have ever happened to him. He got sent out to the States, made a lot of money and looked really tight at the 140lbs weight.
“Although he lost, it gave him a new lease of life. Now he looks fresh, he looks confident and he seems to be improving. Not many fighters have the kind of career he has had when they start winning world titles again after they’ve lost one.
“At this stage of his career, everything is looked at on a fight-by-fight basis. But Ricky knows a victory on Saturday makes him a huge target for the big names – and they will follow.
“But from what he has been through, everything he gets is a bonus. I kind of feel we’re now free-rolling. We’ve had the Di Rocco win, then the defence (against Kiryl Relikh last October) and now a unification, so God knows what’s next? Vegas? (Adrien) Broner? You can’t rule anything out.”