Lightweight contender Raymundo Beltran is probably better known for being one of the chief sparring partners of Manny Pacquiao for the past several years than he is for his own career.
With a win in his next fight, however, he can go a long way toward changing that perception.
Beltran, who has scrapped his way into the 135-pound top 10 and had a number of tough fights, is being rewarded with a shot at lightweight titleholder Ricky Burns of Scotland.
"I can't believe it's here. I honestly didn't think I would ever get one," Beltran said. "But now that's it here I know I am ready to become a world champion."
Pacquiao will be rooting for his pal.
"I believe Beltran will make it," Pacquiao said. "He is a nice guy, a good boxer, and good luck to him. Hopefully, he can make it."
Beltran will challenge for the title on Burns' home turf on Saturday (AWE, formerly WealthTV, 3 p.m. ET) at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow, where Burns regularly draws a raucous crowd.
"I'm ready and motivated," said Beltran, 32, of Mexico. "Everything is going well. It means a lot to fight for the world title. It's every boxer's dream. It opens up the door to big fights. I want to fight the best fighters at lightweight.
"He's a champion. He's strong. I've got a lot of respect for him and I'm training very seriously to face the best version of Ricky Burns."
Beltran (28-6, 17 KOs), however, did not see the best Burns (36-2, 11 KOs) in his last fight, when he struggled mightily before stopping mandatory challenger Jose Gonzalez. Burns, 30, who has also held a junior lightweight title, had been outclassed for most of the fight before Gonzalez, ahead by three points on all three scorecards, claimed a hand injury and retired on his stool after the ninth round in a rather shocking scene.
"I saw his last fight, but I'm not thinking about his performance," Beltran said. "I'm not thinking that Burns is going to be an easy fight. I have to be prepared for a more dangerous Ricky Burns than we saw in that fight. It helps motivate me."
Beltran put himself into title contention with a run of strong performances during his current three-fight winning streak. He won a majority decision against contender Hank Lundy 14 months ago, followed that with a clear decision against tough Ji-Hoon Kim in December and then easily outpointed Alejandro Rodriguez in April.
The wins against Lundy and Kim are the ones that launched him into the rankings.
"That win [against Lundy] was the beginning of something good and it was the win over Ji-Hoon Kim that made this fight [against Burns] possible," Beltran said.
He will be trying to end Burns' six-year, 21-fight winning streak. Burns, who will be making his fourth title defense, has not lost since a decision to Carl Johanneson in a British junior lightweight title fight in 2007.
Burns went on to win a junior lightweight title and then a lightweight belt and has beaten Roman "Rocky" Martinez (who currently holds a junior lightweight title), Michael Katsidis, Paulus Moses and Kevin Mitchell.
"Raymundo is coming over to cause an upset and take the title -- and it's a chance he has earned," Burns said. "But there will be no mistakes from me on the night and you'll see the best of me in there."
Going to Scotland for the title shot is fine with Beltran, a pro since 1999. He has been on the road before and gotten used to it.
"Early in my career I had issues with fighting in my opponent's hometown, but not anymore," Beltran said. "I have a lot of experience now, I will not let it affect me. I don't mind where the fight is. I'm thankful for the opportunity and I thank Ricky Burns and his team. I'm just going there focused on my work, not thinking about anything else. We're ready to fight over there. I saw that Gonzalez was leading on the cards against Burns, so that gives me confidence.
"I think that the pressure is all on Burns. He has to win over the crowd and look convincing after his last fight. I can beat him either way. A knockout is the best way but I'm just thinking that it'll be a hard fight. Points or knockout, I will win. I'm fighting for the world title at the right moment in my career. Things happen for a reason. I'm ready for the world title. Things which happened in the past prepared me for this."
Said Top Rank's Bob Arum, who promotes Beltran: "Burns is a consummate warrior and the fans are in for a real treat. I think this is a 50-50 fight. There is an advantage to Burns fighting on his home turf but he is in with a guy who believes in himself in Beltran."
The winner of the fight will have a mandatory defense to make against Terence Crawford (21-0, 16 KOs) next, as long as Crawford defeats Andrey Klimov (16-0, 8 KOs) on Oct. 5 in Orlando, Fla., on the Miguel Cotto-Delvin Rodriguez undercard.
Arum said he has already talked to Burns promoter Eddie Hearn and HBO about putting the fight on in the United States in early 2014.
"That is what we are talking about," Arum said. "The winner of this fight in Madison Square Garden [in New York] against Crawford as part of a big doubleheader."