Top seed Ryan Burnett [19(9)-0] picked ‘The Filipino Flash’ as his quarter-final opponent last month and the pair are destined to trade leather in opening round of season two of the popular concept this Autumn.
When and where the fight will take place has yet to be officially announced but the future Hall of Famer fighter told Filipino outlet Philstar that he will challenge for the Irishman’s WBA batamweight title in Belfast – most likely in September, with the 29th looking like the most logical date and the SSE Odyssey Arena being the assumed venue.
The 35-year-old four-weight world champion earned a place in the hearts of Irish fan with his classy behaviour before, during and after his loss to Carl Frampton last April and to have a between him another home favourite in Belfast seemed to make sense on every level.
However, with money talking and this season’s super middleweight final between English fighters George Groves and Callum Smith being set for Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, some had worried that the fight may end up elsewhere.
However, Donaire has confirmed is preparing for a return to the Titanic City with the distinctive WBSS brand set to come to town in what is a major plus for Irish boxing.
As well as home advantage and a change build his legacy in Belfast for 26-year-old Burnett, the move will also provide a host of local talent the opportunity to impress on a card set to be broadcast around the world.
Kalle Sauerland organises the ComosaGroup-funded series but could work with Matchroom in Belfast, meaning James Tennyson’s European super featherweight title defence against Frenchman Samir Ziani is possible for the card.
Speaking about the fight, Donaire’s wife and manager Rachel predicts the outcome will come down to who is the more adaptable fighter.
“Jun [Donaire] has been training ever since the Frampton fight because I told him I would try to get him into the Super Series,” she said.
“We are focusing on regaining his speed at this weight. It’ll be a bit easier because he’s lighter. I think Burnett will try to prove he has a bit of everything in front of Jun but the winner will be who is going to be able to adjust and adapt faster.”
Donaire is notably stepping down two weight classes from the Frampton fight but, or perhaps because of this, is again a heavy underdog to an Irish fighter – with Burnett being an even stronger favourite with the bookies than Frampton back in April.
The WBSS have stated that the quarter-finals will be double headers, meaning another major fight will play out on the card.
The other bantamweight pairings are WBO champion Zolani Tete of South Africa versus Russian amateur star Mikhail Aloyan, Japanese two-division world titlist Naoya Inoue against Dominican former champ Juan Carlos Payano of the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rican IBF ruler Emmanuel Rodriguez against Australian mandatory Jason Moloney.
The winner of Burnett-Donaire will face the winner of Tete-Aloyan early next year and this would seem to be the perfect double-header – with Tete having fought in Belfast twice before and having long called for a Burnett fight – but this match-up looks likely to land in Moscow.
There is also a possibility that the co-feature could come from the light welterweight bracket – Regis Prograis v Terry Flanagan, Josh Taylor v Ryan Martin, Kirill Relikh v Eduard Troyanovsky, Anthony Yigit v Ivan Barynchk – or one of four bouts from a still-to-be-announced third weight class believed to be super middleweight.