Ricky Burns will likely be feeling enough pressure on his shoulders going into Saturday night’s make-or-break bout against Anthony Crolla in Manchester. It is no exaggeration to say he is likely fighting to keep his career alive.

But Burns is such a huge figure in Scottish boxing, that it may not just be his own prospects that will be impacted by the outcome of these 12 rounds in Crolla’s back yard.

The likes of Joe Ham, who at 26 and with an unbeaten record in his 11 fights to date, are very much seen as the sort of up-and-coming fighters who can pick up the mantle from Burns. And Ham is gaining huge exposure just by being attached to the Burns name.

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Fighting on the undercards of events headlined by the Coatbridge fighter has dragged him out of the hotels and into the arenas, being able to box in front of huge crowds at the SSE Hydro, and on Saturday evening, at the Manchester Arena against Ricky Starkey.

So, while Burns’s thoughts will be preoccupied in the coming days with finding a way to defeat Crolla in order to save his own skin in the business, there is more than patriotism and respect for his achievements driving the younger Scots who are willing the 34-year-old to succeed.

“100% this is one of his biggest fights,” said Ham yesterday, with the excitement clear in his voice. “It’s massive.

“Crolla is a big name, and it’s going to be a big ask. Especially as if it is almost like someone is dangling his career right in front of him.

“Ricky has brought my career up too in the last few fights. I’m boxing in Matchroom shows and I can’t thank him enough. I had been used to boxing in hotels and places like that, and then my last fight was in the Hydro.

“I hope he wins and I hope he keeps going, because he deserves it.

“We know he’s not going to be boxing forever, and it’s up to the rest of us to step up to the plate, but I think there’s life in him yet. And that can only be good for the likes of myself and the other younger fighters.

“For years and years he’s been carrying the flag for Scottish boxing, and there’s no doubt he’s inspired a generation.

“Now we have the likes of Josh Taylor, myself and Charlie Flynn as well as Stewart Burt, so there are loads of boys coming through now.

“The future is looking bright and I hope I can play a big part in it.”

If Burns is to succeed, in Ham’s view, a more adventurous game-plan than the rather submissive tactics employed against the unconventional Julius Indongo in his April defeat will have to be utilised.

Thankfully, at least he knows what he is getting from the more orthodox style of his opponent on this occasion.

“For me, I think Ricky has got to go down there and put it on the line,” he said. “He can’t go and try to just nick it.

“Indongo was just horrible to fight against. That guy would give 90% of boxers a hard time, he was just a horrible, tall southpaw and you couldn’t figure him out.

“Ricky won’t have that problem on Saturday, because everybody knows what Crolla is, he’s a come-forward, aggressive puncher. And so is Ricky to an extent.

“So, he’s not going to have to go looking for him , Crolla is going to be there in front of him, and it’s up to Ricky to capitalise on that.

“I saw him the other day and he looks in good shape, and he’s definitely up for it. How could you not be up for a fight like that?”

In an age where boxing has become largely about hype, Ham believes that this main event will be all about substance.

“The two of them are great guys and there is no bad blood there, only respect,” he said.

“It can’t be a bad fight because the style of both of them will gel, and both of them will be leaving it on the line. It’s their last chance really to have these big fights.

“Both of them have lost their last fights, and both of their last fights were unification bouts against the best in the division.

“Crolla can’t risk a defeat and Ricky can’t risk a defeat, and when you look at that on paper, it sets it up for a brilliant fight.

“Neither of these guys will back down and they are going to give it everything. But I’m backing my man Ricky.

“My focus is to get down there, do what I have to do, and then get right in amongst it and cheer him on. I’m really rooting for him.

“My money is on Ricky, but it’s a close fight. I believe he can do it and I hope he does.”