LEE Selby knows all too well that defeat in tonight’s big showdown against Ricky Burns will leave his ambitions of another world title in tatters.

And while Selby believes victory could mean the end of the road for 36-year-old Burns, the Welshman has suggested he wouldn’t call it quits should the result go the Scot’s way.

The two former world champions meet at London’s O2 not far off six years since St Joseph’s star Selby travelled north to spar Burns ahead of his clash with Terence Crawford.

Both have won and lost world titles since then and are now drinking in the last-chance saloon when it comes to claiming global honours once again.

“It’s a pivotal fight for both of us,” said Tony Borg-trained Selby, 32.

“I think it will be more difficult for him to come back from a defeat because of his age.

“But then if I can’t beat Ricky Burns, I’m not going to beat any of the world champions and become a world champion again, which is what I want to do.

“I think about what could happen if I lose before every fight. You’ve got to. You’ve got to prepare for the worst. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

“If it doesn’t go my way, I’ll just cross that bridge when I come to it.

“If I win the IBF are due to order a final eliminator between me and the next highest-rated contender.

“Hopefully I’ll win that and then box for the title.”

Ghanaian Richard Commey, who beat Borg protege Gary Buckland for the vacant Commonwealth crown in 2014, holds the IBF strap.

First, Selby (27-2) must overcome Burns (43-7-1), a former three-weight world champion, and someone not too dissimilar to the Barry native in terms of his approach to the fighter’s lifestyle.

“He seems like a similar guy to me – hard working, dedicated and a good fighter,” he said.

“He doesn’t trash talk, he’s just a proper fighter, an old-school fighter.

“He doesn’t do anything flash, he’s very tough, very determined, works hard, he knows when to dig in and he’s got good boxing skills which win fights.

“Ricky has respect for me. He was fighting a top fighter in Terence Crawford when I went to spar him, so to get me in to replicate Crawford was obviously him again showing respect for me.

“I’m expecting a very tough fight and the best Ricky Burns to turn up – but I’m expecting me to win.”

It is almost nine years to the day that Selby won his first professional belt when knocking out Dai Davies in Newport to claim the Welsh featherweight championship.

And former IBF world featherweight king Selby insists he is just as motivated these days to add more accolades to his collection.

“I’ve always had that motivation from a young age,” he said. “I started when I was eight and it’s all I know. It’s all I’ve ever done.

“I’m still as enthusiastic as I was back then. I still enjoy it, and when I stop enjoying it, I’ll call it a day.

“I’m a young 32. I look after myself, I live clean, train hard and eat healthily, so I’ve got a few years left in me yet.”