The last time Ricky Burns fought a crossroads fight, he came out on the wrong end of a point's decision to Anthony Crolla, the former WBA lightweight champion. The 36-year-old, former three-weight world champion needs a big win to even keep alive the hope of another shot at a world title. Lee Selby is in exactly the same situation, and that is why this could turn out to be a hotly contested fight between two veterans with plenty left in the tank.
Burns has now completed 51 professional bouts, winning 43, losing 7 with 1 draw. World titles at super-featherweight, lightweight, and super-lightweight have made him one of Scotland's greatest ever boxers. In a time with four major world sanctioning bodies and with unified world lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko likely to vacate all the belts in the near future, Burns probably believes that he can be in the mix for a vacant title shot if he can beat Selby.
Back in 2015 when Lee Selby took the IBF featherweight title from Evgeny Gradovich and then made his first defence against former two-weight world champion Fernando Montiel at the Gila River Arena, in Glendale, California, live on ESPN, many thought we might be watching the birth of a new Welsh sensation to follow in the footsteps of Joe Calzaghe. Further title defences against Eric Hunter, Jonathan Victor Barrios and Eduardo Ramirez followed but when the champion from Barry was matched with mandatory challenger Josh Warrington of Leeds, it looked like a straightforward win for Selby.
This was Warrington's coming out fight when he showed that while many thought he was European level he was, in fact, a match for any featherweight on the planet. For Selby, the loss was hard. He had been struggling at featherweight for some time and although it was not used as an excuse, he had to take the loss and reassess his fighting future.
Seven months after the Warrington loss, Selby returned as a lightweight and in a meaningful fight against the very useful Omar Douglas whose only defeats had been to Edner Cherry and Javier Fortuna, both on points. In a close affair, Selby was cut over both eyes and at times dragged into a war of attrition by the 28-year old from Wilmington, Delaware, USA. With scores of 116-112, 116-112, and 115-114 Selby had established himself as a lightweight with a good win.
Selby vs Burns could come down to who has the most left in their career. From my viewpoint, Burns has never looked on the wane. Sure enough, he has had low periods in his career but he always came back at a high level and proved that he belonged there. Selby has looked good throughout his career and yet he never fulfilled that early promise, and while he was a solid world champion, he never won that career-defining fight. The win over Douglas showed he is at the right weight but he didn't have the footwork to outbox Douglas in the later rounds, and I think Burns can take advantage of this.
In a gruelling fight, Burns will have the edge over Selby.
Prediction: Burns to win by points.