Having held the WBO lightweight belt for over 18 months now, Ricky Burns heads into the fourth title defence of his reign this weekend.
The SECC Arena in Glasgow will see Burns go head-to-head with Raymundo Beltran in an effort to defend his championship in front of a home audience.
In preparation for the title bout, the Scotsman needs to see an improvement from the fortunate result claimed against Jose Gonzalez, whereas Beltran will undoubtedly be content with the underdog tag handed to him.
When: Saturday, Sept. 7, 8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET
Where: SECC Arena, Glasgow, Scotland
Watch: Sky Sports 2 (HD)
Stream Info: SkyGo (Subscription required)
Ricky Burns Form Guide
Earlier on in his lightweight career, Burns was used to going against the grain and having to fight with the odds running away from him, symbolised perfectly in his victory over Michael Katsidis in November 2011.
Since then, the Coatbridge native has found more of a foothold as one of the sport's bigger names and heads into this weekend’s Glasgow meeting after winning his past 21 consecutive fights.
With that limelight now on him, Burns seems a more confident figure in his ventures:
Having said that, his latest victory, a May encounter with Gonzalez, only came as a result of his opponent’s need to pull out in the ninth round with a wrist injury and was a humbling performance in retrospect.
Gonzalez led the card of all three judges before being forced to retire in that fight, so Burns is in need of significant improvement upon his return to the ring.
Not since first picking up the title had Burns faced such a stubborn test of his skills, but it was an examination that will undoubtedly benefit the 30-year-old in the long run.
Now knowing what it feels like to come so close to the brink of collapse, Beltran should be the first to feel the sting of a newly invigorated Burns, one who may not take as much for granted.
Raymundo Beltran Form Guide
Coming from the right gym, trainer or representation can often go a long way in the boxing business, and Beltran is a prime example of one who may benefit as such.
The Mexican is more famous for sparring with Manny Pacquiao at the Wild Card gym than anything else, although his 28-6 record is still fairly impressive.
That being said, three of those six defeats have come in the 32-year-old’s past nine fights.
Beltran has decent knockout potential, having stopped the fight early in 17 of his 28 triumphs, a higher percentage than Burns has managed in his career.
Who are you backing to win this Saturday?
However, all three of the Arizona-based fighter’s past wins have come by decision, showing that the explosive aspect of his attributes are beginning to wane.
Beltran has the unfortunate honour of going up against a sleeping giant who’s had his warning, so he will likely face a Burns backlash following the Scot's scare.
In hindsight, the fortunate outcome of his “victory” over Gonzalez may have been precisely what Burns needed at this point of his title reign.
After that, Beltran wouldn’t look like too much more than a confidence booster for the Scotsman, where home advantage is another factor likely to help him over the finish line.
While Beltran has some degree of talent, he’s shown himself to crumble under external pressure in the past, something Burns may look to play on by getting the home crowd involved in this bout.
Burns Wins by Unanimous Decision