Donaire hails Belfast – backs Burnett to bounce back

Adopted Belfast son Nonito Donaire [40(26)-5(1)] is backing Ryan Burnett to bounce back against his fellow Filipino in Belfast tonight.

The future first ballot Hall of Famer will be ringside as Burnett makes his return from injury against Jelbirt Gomera at the Ulster Hall.

The Adam Booth-trained fighter fights for the first time since he suffered a freak oblique injury whilst competing against Donaire in a WBA world title fight and  World Boxing Super Series quarter-final late last year – and his only defeater believes he will return strong in front of his home support.

The South East Asian 36-year-old, who lost to Carl Frampton up at featherweight in April of last year, believes tonight’s bil- topper looks much healthier at super bantamweight and thinks that he may stop Gomera in a few hours time. 

Donaire also doesn’t think the nature of the injury suffered by Burnett in their Glasgow-hosted fight will have any negative effect on him moving forward.

“I don’t think it’s so much of a detriment in the mind as compared to other injuries, like hand injuries,” he explained last night at a meet-and-greet in the Crown Bar.

“Those are always going to be there in your mind or getting knocked out. Injuries like that happen. It’s not such a scary injury that it will hinder Ryan. I think he is going to go out there, he is going to to his best and he is going to make it happen.”

“He looks healthy. When he fought me his eyes were very sunk in, but when I saw him he looks really healthy and I think he will feel really good,” he adds before discussing whether or not Burnett should make the move permanent and predicting a knock out.

“Moving up a weight can be a game in the head. That is for him to figure out himself.”

“If you look at my last fight I didn’t have to work to hard. If you land at the right moment they are going to down. If Ryan finds that he will be able to accomplish that, I don’t doubt that.”

The reigning WBA world champion is over this side of the world to take in the WBBS semi-final between IBF champion Manny Rodriguez and tournament favourite Naoya Inoue in Glasgow on Saturday but claims he couldn’t waste a chance to come to Belfast.

The fighter, who won the hearts and respect of the city with his behavour and approach before, during, and after his clashes with Frampton and Burnett, is delighted with the chance to take in toay’s Ulster Hall action.

However, that is not the only reason he came to Ireland. Donaire has developed a real love affair with the Belfast boxing public and wanted the chance to spend some time with them too.

‘The Filipino Flash’ takes a class at Peak Physique this morning and was on the pints last night in the Crown.

“Just being around the people over here is amazing they are very friendly. The atmosphere is always nice and then you get the boxing guys who are over the top, just amazing. This is why I took the time to plan to come out here.”

“I am going to Glasgow for the Rodriguez-Inoue fight but it’s so close by I had to stop here and I am going to meet with lots of friends including Carl too. It’s always fun to be here,” he adds before noting the sportsmanship of both his former Belfast opponents and there fans.

“Boxing… you win some you lose some, but the greatest thing I found is the sportsmanship. It was amazing. That’s what boxing should be. Not only that the people here they love boxing and I love that.”

On a personal level Donaire, having stopped late replacement  Stephon Young in spectacular fashion, is one win away from adding another belt to his collection and winning the WBSS. 

He will find out who he will meet for the red IBF belt and the Muhammad Ali trophy.

The veteran operator predicts nothing more than a good fight between Inoue and Rodriguez and suggests if he does win the final it might have quench his thirst enough to allow him to retire.

“If Inoue lands his punch early it can be an early night, but I doubt that he’ll land against Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a phenomenal fighter. I think it’s going to be a good fight.”

“I think [becoming undisputed] will seal the deal in terms of my satisfaction in boxing and that what I am aiming for.”

Jonny Stapleton contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: