Ricky Burns is refusing to even contemplate the prospect of defeat as he prepares to step into the ring against Anthony Crolla tonight.

The point has been made this week by many pundits and observers, including Ricky’s own long-time manager Alex Morrison, that the 34-year-old’s prospects would look dire should he lose in the Manchester Arena this evening, but that thought hasn’t even entered the Coatbridge fighter’s mind.

Looking in superb condition as he comfortably made the weight at nine stone, eight lbs. and 2 oz. yesterday, Burns was supremely confident that he would see off the challenge of the hometown fighter.

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And given how well his training camp has gone, he doesn’t think the step back down to lightweight for the fight will affect him at all.

“A lot of people have been talking about the winner possibly going on to fight for world titles, and I know there’s been a lot of talk about the where the loser would go from here, but I’ve not been looking at it that way,” Burns said.

“I’m 100% confident of going in there and getting the win.

“Everything has gone to plan. Training has gone well, and I’ve been on a proper strict diet for the last 10 or 11 weeks.

“Don’t get me wrong, that’s been getting to me the last week or so, but I’ve made the weight easy and I can look forward to the fight now and concentrate on it fully.

“Going down in weight won’t affect me. I’ve always said that if I never got offered the opportunity of fighting for the world title at the weight above, I could probably still be fighting at lightweight just now.

“It’s been hard, but I’ve been strict with myself and shown to myself that I can do it if I just keep at it.”

The respect that Burns has for his opponent tonight is clear, which is why as well as refusing to contemplate what impact a defeat would have on him, he is refusing to allow his mind to wander upon the possibilities should he emerge victorious.

“A fourth world title would be amazing, but I’ve always said it is one fight at a time,” he said. “We know we’ve got a tough fight against Anthony, and he’s got my full attention just now.”

The Radisson Blu was packed out yesterday as both fighters took to the scales, and it is clear from the buzz in the streets of the city that has adopted the worker bee to symbolise their industrial heritage, that this fight between two, honest pros has captured the imagination.

“It’s a great atmosphere and the turnout for the weigh-in was good.,” said Burns. “I’ve never fought in Manchester before, but I’ve been at a few venues here and I know what the fans are like, they are just like the fans back home.

“It’s going to be a great fight. Me and Anthony are two normal guys who like to do our talking in the ring, but when the bell goes, that’s when it comes down to the two of us going for it.

“We’re two guys who rarely take a step back. Every fight is different, styles make fights, but I’m sure the fans are in for a real treat here.

“I’m sure they will appreciate a good, hard fight, and the best man will win.”

That feeling of respect was reciprocated by Crolla, who has nothing but admiration for Burns and his achievements. It is the authenticity of these warriors, and not a phony war, that makes this fight a potentially captivating spectacle.

“We just shook hands backstage and there was never going to be any shoving about or anything like that,” Crolla said. “Anyone who knows boxing knows this is going to be a proper fight.

“Ricky’s a top guy but as a fighter I have so much respect for him. When you look through the names he’s fought it’s unreal and I don’t think he gets enough credit for that. He’s been in with boxing royalty, he’s had a great career, he’s a three-weight world champion and he wants to win another world title and so do I.

“I think this will get going early, probably in the opening couple of rounds. I would be shocked if the styles didn’t gel and the fans are in for a treat. It’s a tough and great fight, but I see an Anthony Crolla win in a hard fought and great 12 round fight, and one that will be remembered as a classic.

“Winning is so important. The winner goes straight back into fighting for world titles, the loser has to rebuild, maybe drop down a level, and neither of us want to do that.

“It’s so important for us both to get the win, and I cannot wait for it.”

Crolla has dismissed any fears about the weight of an expectant home crowd getting to him, being forced to channel all of his energies into the challenge of such a formidable opponent as Burns.

“I’m lucky to have been able to be part of such massive shows at the Manchester Arena and that’s all I want to be in – big fight nights,” said Crolla.

“When we do hang up the gloves we’ll have no regrets because we can say we took on the best.”