Boxing

The road to getting my titles back starts now says Ryan Burnett

Ryan Burnett sinks to the canvas in agony in the fourth round of his WBA title fight against Nonito Donaire at The SSE Hydro, Glasgow last November
Andy Watters

RYAN Burnett says a rematch with Nonito Donaire – the man who now holds his WBA bantamweight title – is a possibility but he has ruled out a potential all-Belfast clash with stablemate Michael Conlan.

Conlan revealed recently that he plans to drop from featherweight to chase world titles in the super-bantamweight division but former unified bantamweight champion Burnett – also trained by Adam Booth in London – says he has no plans to take on his sparring partner in the future.

Burnett returns to action at super-bantam against Mexico's Jelbirt Gomera at the Ulster Hall on May 17 but he plans to drop back to bantam and regain the WBA title he lost to experienced Donaire in Glasgow in November last year.

The ‘Filipino Flash' won the belt after Burnett was forced to retire with a back injury after four rounds and he now meets Zolani Tete in the World Boxing Super Series semi-final in Louisiana, USA on Saturday night.

“I disappeared for a while there,” said Burnett.

“I just wanted to be by myself but everything is 100 per cent, everything's good.

“The injury is 100 per cent now. I've got no pain and I've been training now for a couple of months and getting myself back into it properly. I've had no pain whatsoever so, on that side of things, everything is really, really good.”

Burnett-Donaire was developing into an engrossing struggle when the Belfast man sank to the canvas in Glasgow in obvious agony. Booth had no choice but to instruct the referee to call the fight off at the end of the round.

“It took a while to get over that,” said Burnett.

“Boxing is a very unpredictable sport and you can't really dwell n the things that go wrong. I sort of took it for what it was and I made the most of a bad situation and I took time off. It was the first time I could actually take time off for about seven years so I just shut off and used it for what it was.

“It was like a loss without a loss in a way and financially it didn't affect me because I'm lucky that, thank God, I've secured a life for myself so, on that front, I'm pretty sound. The only hard thing was taking it for what it was.

“The road to becoming champion again is definitely on - I'm fighting next month and I can't wait for that.

“I'll be coming up from bantamweight and he (Gomera) is coming down from featherweight, so he'll be a bit heavier than me but I definitely have the skillset to be able to hurt him and end the night early.”

Burnett beat Lee Haskins to become world champion with a dazzling display of boxing and added the WBA belt to the IBF strap in a contrasting head-to-head slugfest against Ricky Hatton-trained Kazak Zhanat Zhakiyanov in October 2017.

“I'm no longer a prospect in the game,” he said.

“I've got experience, I became a world champion, I've had some really tough fights and, if I'm honest, getting injured and losing the belts is all part of the journey.

“I have achieved everything I've ever wanted to achieve in boxing. I became world champion, financially I'm in a great place and I've unified the division so anything that happens in my boxing career now is a pure blessing for me. That's the way I'm looking at it now.

“People ask me where I would like to fight and I come back to them all the time: ‘Belfast'. Belfast is the place where I want to be having my big nights.”

After six months out of the sport, Burnett – still only 26 – has plenty of time to get back to the top of the ladder. Wherever it leads him, he doesn't see his path crossing Michael Conlan's.

“Me and Michael fighting? I wouldn't think so,” he said.

“I'm a comfortable bantamweight and the opportunity came for this fight (Gomera) at super-bantam so we decided to take it but I couldn't see me and Michael happening to be honest.

“When I get over this one I'll sit down with my team and see what's next.

“Maybe it'll be Donaire but my main focus has been on getting myself fit again so that will be down to my team, I'm not going to be thinking about stuff like that, I'm just thinking about getting fit and getting back to doing what I do best.”

RICKY Hatton has warned Josh Warrington that he faces the fight of his life against Kid Galahad.

Warrington makes the second defence of his IBF world featherweight title against mandatory challenger, Galahad at the First Direct Arena, Leeds on Saturday June 15.

Hatton says Warrington's huge army of hometown fans face a nerve jangling night when Sheffield's Galahad gets his long-awaited world title tilt.

“This fight is as tough as they come and hard to call,” says former world super-lightweight and welterweight champion, Hatton.

‘The Hitman' has seen Galahad from close quarters in the gym when he took boxers to spar with Galahad (26-0) and his gym-mates at the Wincobank gym.

Hatton added: “I used to take Zhanat Zhakiyanov who was WBA bantamweight champion to spar Kid Galahad. I saw then that Galahad can really fight.

“This really is a tough fight, but since Josh became world champion I think he has warmed to it.

“It's a very good fight and you've got to heap all the praise on Josh Warrington.”

Warrington (28-0) caused an upset when he defeated Lee Selby 11 months ago to become world champion, and was the underdog again when he made a successful first defence against Carl Frampton.

Hatton said: “Champions are judged on how good they are by the fighters they faced. Josh has beaten Lee when he was the underdog and Carl, a multiple world champion.

“Now, he is in with another quality fighter, Kid Galahad.

“His confidence has gone up another couple of gears since becoming a world champion. He is coming off the fight against Frampton and you won't see many better fights in a boxing ring.

“He is on the crest of a wave and while your confidence is up you might has well face these people like Kid Galahad because it needs to be up.”

Although Hatton is full of admiration for Warrington, he believes that Galahad may have more natural talent than the defending champion.

Hatton explained: “Josh has a very high work rate, he doesn't leave you alone. Look at the Frampton fight, Carl was the better boxer and judge of distance, but Josh took that away from him.

“That is what you do with fighters who have more talent. Take the talent away - bully them, rush them and keep on top.

“I think he will employ similar tactics against Kid Galahad who is very, very talented. Josh has got a very good boxing brain and he is going to need it against Kid Galahad.

“Kid Galahad is very talented, but sometimes people with the most talent don't win. It is about the right tactics and game plan.

“That is why I pick Josh ever so slightly, but this fight is tough.”

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