Scottish boxing legend Ken Buchanan, like so many others in his sport, retired twice. He first called it quits in 1976 after his successful defence of the European lightweight title against Giancarlo Usai, but after going out on a winning note, he could only resist the urge to clamber back through the ropes for so long.

The continuing allure of the ring has led many an ageing boxer to grave misfortune and Buchanan was no different. Within two years of hanging up his gloves he decided to pull them on again.

His comeback started well, but it took five straight defeats – the final ignominy coming against George Feeney in 1982 – before one of Scotland’s greatest fighters realised it was time to walk away from boxing for good.

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On Saturday night, Ricky Burns will climb into the ring in Manchester at the age of 34 to face Anthony Crolla, a fighter four years his junior and backed by a vociferous hometown crowd. There might just be a nagging voice in his head, too, though. Buchanan certainly thinks so.

“Ricky Burns is a good laddie and he’s been a good boxer, but to me, he’s had his career,” Buchanan said. “At the age he is, he should make this fight his last. He’s had a few defeats and at his age, things aren’t going to get any better for him. I would like to see him retire comfortably, of course, financially, he deserves that, but it is more important for him and his family that he retires from boxing in good health so he can enjoy his life after he is out of the ring.”

There is a crucial backstory here: Burns was declared bankrupt with debts of more than £400,000 in 2015 and that, largely, explains his enforced longevity in the sport.

But regardless of the finances involved, all boxers have a shelf life. Burns suffered a punishing loss to Julius Indongo in his last bout, where long-time manager Alex Morrison said he saw defeat in his fighter’s eyes for the first time.

Buchanan can understand why Burns wants to banish the ghosts of that dispiriting night in Glasgow, and prove that the emphatic nature of the reverse was more down to tactical errors against a bigger boxer than any proof that his career is winding towards its conclusion.

But Buchanan warned the Coatbridge boxer not to ignore reality. If Burns hears a voice in his head telling him he is no longer at the peak of his powers, Buchanan has implored him to pay heed to it. The consequences of a stubborn refusal to acknowledge when your time is up can be all too severe.

“There are a few young lads coming up and they are sharp, and if you aren’t as quick any more, it can just take one punch to change your whole life,” Buchanan said. “When I retired, it was difficult, and I probably went on too long. It was the right time for me to step away, no doubt about it.

“When my time was up as a fighter, it was up. It obviously hurt me to know I would never be in the ring again, but I thought to myself ‘no, I’m not going to end up like some fighters who had been hurt and had that one fight too many’.

“You see these boys who used to be prime fighters and then have to live with injuries and poor health for the rest of their lives after fighting on too long, and I didn’t want that to be me.

“I hope Ricky wins and can come out of this fight with his head held high but, more importantly, I just hope this isn’t that fight too far for his own and his family’s sake.”

Filling the void that comes with retirement, as Buchanan, 72, knows all too well, can be the greatest fight of a boxer’s life. Many, like him, turn to drink. Others turn to training the next generation, and pass on their expertise through the gyms and boxing clubs

that are still a hotbed of eager young fighters.

Thankfully, in recent years, Buchanan’s time is being split more evenly between the former practice and the more constructive latter.

Passing on the skills he once thrilled the crowds with, the searing and

relentless left jab, the technical ability that was often overshadowed by his redoubtable courage, gives the Fighting Carpenter the fulfilment he has long been searching for.

“I enjoyed boxing, and I still enjoy it to this day,” he said. “I still go to the gym, and if I see the boys doing something wrong, then I’ll say to them. I’ll pass on that advice and that helps to fill the void in your life where boxing competitively used to be. Hopefully, when the time does come for Ricky to stop, he can find that too.”

That one last fight, the last burst of adrenaline that only competitive fighting can bring, the adoration of the crowd – they are all difficult things to walk away from, as is the less romantic notion of one last payday before calling it quits. But just as thoughts of long, empty days enter a fighter’s head and the desire to box on resurfaces, so should it serve as a cautionary tone over how you want to spend those long years after the last bell has sounded.