He is no longer a unified world champion, but Ryan Burnett [18(9)-0] is ready to make a statement and move on to the next level in front of what promises to be one of the biggest live and TV audiences boxing will attract in 2018.
The Belfast bantamweight has secured a slot on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight unification blockbuster against Joseph Parker at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff and, while Belfast fight fans will be disappointed the local hero isn’t bringing a Spring card to the city, the fighter himself is delighted to be part of such a big card.
While it will be all eyes on Joshua come March 31st, such are the numbers that tune into the box office ‘events’ that Burnett will certainly get the chance win over some new fans and raise his profile significantly.
That’s something certainly not lost on the Youth Olympic gold medal winner and he is determined to impress when he defends his WBA strap against Venezuelan Yonfrez Parejo [21(10)-2(1)-1] on the pay-per-view card.
“I’m delighted to be added to this show it’s going to be an incredible experience to defend my World title in front of 80,000 in Cardiff,” said Burnett.
“I expect a tough fight against Parejo, our styles should gel for a great fight and I’m looking forward to making another statement on March 31.”
Burnett goes into this clash minus one of the titles he buckled around his waist in 2017. The Adam Booth-trained puncher unified the WBA and the IBF titles last year, but having eventually been left with two mandatory challengers had to choose one – and the red belt has been discarded.
“The IBF called an interim title bout between Rodriguez and Haskins so we proceeded to make the fight with our WBA mandatory Parejo,” explained Burnett’s promoter Eddie Hearn.
“Last week we were notified that that bout would no longer take place and that Rodriguez team were not willing to negotiate and they called immediate purse bids. Our deal was already in place with Parejo so we will vacate our IBF title and continue to face our WBA mandatory,” he added.
Burnett doesn’t seem too upset and claimed he was aware such a situation may have arisen before he defeated his old Ricky Hatton gym mate Zhakiyanov to claim the WBA title.
“I don’t really get involved in the politics but we knew that when we face Zhakiyanov that is was likely we may have to vacate one of the belts because of mandatories but I’ve unified the division and now we move on to new challenges.”