Ryan Burnett makes his ring return this Friday night in Belfast’s Ulster-Hall against Jelbirt Gomera of the Phillippines for the WBC super-bantamweight international title.
Burnett sustained a debilitating back injury in the semi-final of the World Boxing Super Series against Nonito Donaire, and was forced to retire after the fourth round of what would have undoubtedly been an intriguing showdown between the pair.
It was a devastating loss for the Irishman, who came into the bout as not only the betting favourite to advance to the semi-finals, but also undefeated WBA bantamweight champion, but ultimately left the ring in agony – empty-handed and distraught.
Such is the cruel nature of boxing, but Burnett’s fans will be encouraged by his relatively quick turnaround coupled with the notion that the experience has only made Burnett stronger.
Not much is known about his opponent, but the fact that Burnett is prohibitively favourited to win suggests that it serves primarily as a confidence booster after suffering such a significant setback; standing in stark contrast to a hugely successful 2017 which saw him highlighted in certain quarters as a candidate for fighter of the year.
Burnett produced a scintillating performance against Lee Haskins, comprehensively dominating the IBF champion throughout twelve rounds, before unifying against former stablemate and WBA champion Zhanat Zhakiyanov in a somewhat scrappy affair.
After voluntarily relinquishing the IBF title due to mandatory constraints that it entailed, Burnett successfully defended his title on the Joshua-Parker undercard by outpointing Yonifrez Parejo.
Now, after amicably parting company with Matchroom and inking a deal with Top-Rank, a Donaire rematch or a long-awaited fight with WBO bantamweight champion Zolani Tete are now very real possibilities should Burnett decide to return to 118lbs.
Whatever the case, new promoter Bob Arum has successfully marketed featherweight stablemate and former Olympian Michael Conlan to Irish-American audiences stateside, and will be hoping to achieve the same with Ryan Burnett regardless of what weight class he eventually decides to campaign in.
Article by: Navi Singh