Back Home – Ryan Burnett looking to recapture 2017 momentum in Belfast


Following two fights, a serious injury, and a year-and-a-half away, Ryan Burnett [19(9)-1(1)] finally makes his return to Belfast this Friday night.

The Antrim Road fighter looked on course to become a big star in his home city in 2017 with two bills at the SSE Odyssey Arena.

While the attendances for his world title win over Lee Haskins and his unification triumph versus Zhanat Zhakiyanov both did in the 4,000s in terms of attendance, there was an indication of growth and Burnett’s star looked to be rising.

However, with his next fight taking place on an Anthony Joshua undercard and his subsequent entry into the World Boxing Super Series, Burnett spent 2018 away from home.

The WBSS was, obviously, an opportunity which Burnett could not turn down but there has been a natural lament for the fighter who should be far bigger in his home city than he currently is.

On Friday, at the atmospheric Ulster Hall, the 26-year-old marks a new chapter in his career.

Back in Belfast, linked up with Top Rank and ESPN, and fighting at super bantamweight, it will be a new Ryan Burnett headlining the #MTKFightNight but his love for home remains.

Burnett explains how “I was asked: ‘If you could fight anywhere in the world, where would it be?; Somewhere like Madison Square Garden or somewhere in Las Vegas? For me, it’s always Belfast.”

“I love fighting in my home city. I haven’t fought there much in my professional career but now I am.”

With the Ulster Hall holding just 1,100 people, and unknown Filipino Jelbirt Gomera understandably filling the away corner for the comeback fight, Friday night won’t be as big as previous nights in Belfast for Burnett.

However, the fighter himself still expects something special in the famous venue as he makes his return from that horror oblique injury suffered versus Nonito Donaire last November.

“It’s great to get to Ulster Hall, which holds such an atmosphere,” he said.

“Now I’ve established a bit of a name for myself, I know it’ll sell out and the atmosphere in there will be just incredible.”

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie