Ricky Burns may never box again after fighting with a broken jaw for more than 10 rounds of his controversial world title defence against Raymundo Beltran, according to promoter Eddie Hearn.
The 30-year-old had titanium plates inserted in his jaw after retaining the WBO lightweight title following the draw with the impressive Mexican at the SECC in Glasgow and Hearn later cast doubt on his future.
Most observers thought Beltran had won the contest and there was immediate talk of a rematch but Burns faces greater concerns.
Hearn told BBC Radio 5Live on Sunday evening: "Everyone's talking about his next move. I can't even guarantee he'll box again at the moment.
"He'll be in for a couple of days and then we wait and see how it sets and forms and go from there.
"It was a horrific injury to suffer. There have been a few occasions when people have boxed on with broken jaws - I couldn't imagine anything worse - but they are extraordinary people, fighters, and he found the bravery to carry on.
"The doctor, who doesn't know a lot about boxing, was quite astonished when I told him he had boxed for half an hour with a broken jaw.
"He asked if he had taken any shots on it and I told him that was the understatement of the year."
After an impressive start, Burns was caught with a powerful left hook in the second round and was sent to the canvas in the eighth with a similar strike.
Beltran had the Coatbridge fighter on the back foot for much of the fight and Burns held on to his opponent on numerous occasions while boxing far less tightly than normal.
It became increasingly apparent as the fight progressed that he was in severe pain with his jaw and Hearn paid tribute to the double world champion, who he revealed had been sitting up in his hospital bed following surgery.
"When I spoke to Beltran last night, he said he could hear him almost crying in clinches where the heads were going in on the jaw - unpleasant stuff, but he's on the mend," he said.
"You look at Ricky Burns and he looks more like choirboy than a fighter, but he's one brave kid and our immediate concern is to make sure that he's okay."
The fact that Burns fought on through the pain was remarkable but it was also incredible to most who watched the fight that Beltran was not declared the winner despite the champion's strong finish in the final two rounds.
One judge gave the Scot the verdict by 115-112, another gave it to Beltran by 115-113 with the third judge scoring it 114-114, a verdict that drew gasps and very muted celebrations inside the hall.
Hearn, albeit reluctantly, admitted he thought Beltran had won and believes it was "morally right" that the 32-year-old fighter should get a rematch.
However, he also conceded that is not likely to happen.
"If I'm being honest, I gave it to Beltran but I had it very close," he said.
"I feel Ricky may have lost the fight by two rounds tops but you could have found an argument for a draw or an argument for one round for Burns.
"One thing I will say, you have to take the belt off the champion.
"If you score it one round either way you have to give it to the champion.
"Morally a rematch would be the right thing. Politically, financially, will it?
"Top Rank will push for Ricky to fight Terence Crawford as a mandatory challenger, Top Rank also represent Raymundo Beltran. So my gut feeling is no.
"If people think Ricky lost the fight they have to report on that but I would like people to say, 'fair play to him, he is a brave son of a b****.' He is abnormally brave."
Hearn believes Burns, when he is fully fit again, may have to move up another weight.
"I think he does struggle to make the weight," he said.
"I don't know whether we look to take him up to light-welterweight and see what's up there for him.
"I do think he is a big lightweight and I feel as if he has looked tired at points in the last two fights.
"I know he how hard he works so there may be a reason behind that.
"So how would he perform at light-welter? That pushes my buttons because it is an opportunity to become a three-weight world champion."
Tags: Ricky Burns , Raymundo Beltran , Eddie Hearn , Burns-Beltran , Burns vs Beltran