It’s faint hope but hope nonetheless as the tournament’s Chief Boxing Officer Kalle Sauerland revealed that, depending on the severity of his injury, there is a possible route back into the tournament that will produce a unified bantamweight champion.
Burnett was forced to pull out of his quarter-final clash with Nonito Donaire in Glasgow on Saturday night, being made retire on his stool after the fourth round having suffered a back injury.
Sauerland, however, is keen to keep the #1 seed involved and revealed that the unlucky Belfast fighter could play reserve to either the Nonito Donaire v Zoltan Tete semi-final unification or Manny Rodriguez’s IBF title defence versus Naoya Inoue in the new year if he recovers in time.
“I fear that the injury is not a good one, but I’m not a doctor,” Sauerland told BoxingScene after a press conference with Nonito Donaire on Saturday after the fight.
“I heard he had a similar injury when he was a kid, but I don’t know. It’s up to him and his team to come out and make a statement on that. He’s a lovely guy with a great team around him and if he’s available for the semis it would be amazing to have him as a reserve.”
“I think it [the tournament] might be over [for Burnett] but we’ll see.”
Burnett did indeed suffer a bulging disc before he turned pro at the turn of the decade and gym-mate Mick Conlan indicated in a post-fight interview with IFL that the Antrim Road fighter had been struggling with back issues in the build-up.
The Adam Booth-trained fighter looked well on course to the semi-finals and a unification bout with South Africa’s Tete in what had been bubbling up to be a good fight with veteran Donaire..
Burnett was leading on all the cards but instead left the arena on a stretcher, world title-less and eliminated from the WBSS.
The Youth Olympic gold medalist seemed to suffer an injury in the third and would fall apart in the fourth when throwing a punch, going down clutching his back.
The 26-year-old was to undergo a scan today to further determine the extent of the injury.
If the recovery time is short, and his team deem it a good move, Burnett could appear on a WBSS card as a reserve and may get the chance to step back into the tournament if another fighter is injured or fails to make weight.
Reserve bouts have been taking place on all the undercards thus far – bar the Inoue v Juan Carlos Payano quarter-final.
This means there are three bantamweights ready to proceed to undercard bouts in the semi-finals – Zafar Parpiev, Paul Butler, Stephon Young – and Burnett could perhaps slip in as a fourth.