Boxing

Fit-again former champion Ryan Burnett ready for comeback bout at Ulster Hall

Ryan Burnett smiling ahead of his comeback bout with Filipino Gilbert Gomera in Belfast's Ulster Hall tomorrow night Picture: Mal McCann.

BELFAST’S “bullet-proof” bantamweight Ryan Burnett says his pizza-munching days are behind him as he embarks on the comeback trail against Filipino Jelbirt Gomera in the Ulster Hall tomorrow night.

The former world champion tops the bill in the Bedford Street venue with Marco McCullough, Sean McComb, Lewis Crocker and Steven Donnelly providing local interest on the MTK Global fight night undercard.

Tomorrow night will signal Burnett’s return to the ring since a devastating back injury brought a premature end to his WBA Super world title defence against veteran Nonito Donaire.

The north Belfast man crumpled in a heap in the fourth round of their November 3 2018 showdown and surrendered his hard-earned title.

Speaking at yesterday’s pre-fight press conference in Belfast’s Clayton Hotel, Burnett said: “For a few weeks after the fight I just ate pizza, but I got my head cleared again. I had a word with myself, just brushed it to the side, I got back in the gym and got fit again.”

Since then, Burnett (19-1) switched from Matchroom promotions to US-based Top Rank.

“The Donaire fight doesn’t feel like a defeat to me,” said the 26-year-old.

“It’s a loss on your record without having a loss. I did feel I was winning the fight, I was feeling comfortable in the fight. But, listen, it is what it is – it’s boxing, it’s an unpredictable sport. You can only move on…

“I was in a bad way after the Donaire fight and for a while I didn’t know what was going to happen. But, thank God, I recovered well. I’ve got no injuries and no recurring injuries and I’m good to go.”

With a match-up against South Africa’s Zolani Tete continually being mooted and a possible return bout with Donaire also mentioned, Burnett’s singular focus is notching another win on his fight record against Gomera (14-5) tomorrow night.

“To be honest, there’s talk about everybody wanting to fight me… I’m bullet-proof – nothing’s going to mess with my head. There are names mentioned all the time because everyone wants to come to Belfast and feel that atmosphere. I’ll just deal with the situation in front of me and I’ll deal with whatever comes next.

“I’ve got a great team around me and they know the right steps to take, so I just leave all that down to them.

“Gomera is a southpaw that likes to come forward – he likes to leave his chin out there so I’m expecting a good night for myself if I’m honest.”

On his move to Bob Arum’s Top Rank promotions, who have a link-up with US-based broadcasters ESPN, Burnett added: “I’ve got Adam Booth in my corner. Adam Booth is a master when it comes to training and the boxing world in general. So, he said this is the correct move and he explained why and I agreed with him. Moving forward with Top Rank is the right choice for my career.”

Quiet as a mouse, the former St Patrick’s Bearnageeha pupil is not one for soaking up the pre-fight atmosphere.

“I’ve done this quite a bit now [referring to media conferences]. I’ve had build-ups to world title fights – this is going to be my 20th fight so I’ve sort of got the drift. It’s not new to me any more. I just go along with it. Ideally, I’d rather just not do it!”

Meanwhile, Belfast's Marco McCullough (21-4, 11 KOs) takes on Dubliner Declan Geraghty (18-3, 4 KOs) for the vacant IBF European belt in what should be an intriguing match-up and th epick of the undercard.

 

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