His first professional fight denied Burley on September 29, 1936 against George leggings in Pittsburgh, he won by KO in the fourth round. 1938 and 1939, he won two of three fights against Fritzie Zivic welterweight.
On August 22, 1938, he fought for the title of "Colored Welterweight Championship of the World", the world title for blacks, in a bout scheduled for 15 rounds against Cocoa Kid in Millvale. However, this should be his only international title since fighters such as Sugar Ray Robinson, Jake LaMotta, Rocky Graziano and Tony Zale never wanted to fight against the man with the battle name " Black Dynamite ".
In 1942, he was beaten twice by Ezzard Charles, who is considered one of the best light heavyweight of all time, over ten rounds on points.
On 3 April 1944 he won in a fight against Jack Chase in Hollywood by co in the ninth round of the title of middleweight champion of California. Only 18 days later, on April 21, 1944, he defeated Archie Moore, who thought he was one of the best boxers ever, on points.
In 1992, Burley induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.