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Returning Ryan Burnett ready to take back Belfast

Deprived of his world title, deprived of the buzz of Belfast, Ryan Burnett [19(9)-1(1)] returns on Friday night with a burning hunger.

Back in the ring six months on from his shock defeat to Nonito Donaire, it’s a fresh start for the Belfast bantamweight.

Burnett lost his WBA belt back in November when his right oblique muscle tore and detached from the bone mid-way through his World Boxing Super Series quarter-final clash with Donaire in Glasgow.

Grimacing in pain, Burnett was taken out of the fight by coach and manager Adam Booth in one of the more heart-breaking Irish world title defeats.

The Antrim Road puncher admits pizza played a big part in the immediate aftermath but reveals that the mourning process was not a long or as painful as some may imagine.

“I’m a very positive person regardless of what situations are in my way. With what happened, it’s obviously going to get anyone down, losing a world title in that way but I moved on correctly in the right way and it didn’t bother me,” he explained to Irish-Boxing.com.

“I’m good, I’ve had no recurring injuries, I’ve been cleared by the medical experts. I can’t imagine it bothering me.”

With a clean bill of health both physically and mentally, Burnett returns, sooner than many expected, this Friday night at the Ulster Hall.

The 26-year-old – 27 next week – temporarily steps up to super bantamweight, facing Filipino southpaw Jelbirt Gomera for the WBC International rankings title.

It’s Burnett’s first fight at home since his unification win over Zhanat Zhakiyanov in October 2017 – with a Anthony Joshua undercard and a WBSS spot filling his 2018 schedule – and the Youth Olympic gold medallist is delighted to be home.

His absence has been a long one, albeit an unavoidable one.

Regardless, he is determined to savour his return to the Titanic City, especially with his future base being uncertain.

“You can’t really think twice about that, otherwise something would be wrong with you. It’s just boxing,” he says, reflecting on his 2018 spent away from home.

“Being deprived of the Belfast thing just makes me more excited to be back on Friday night.”

“To be honest, I’m not too sure [where is next], I haven’t thought that far into it. I just deal with what’s in front of me. The team I’ve got around me are very, very good, they know what they’re doing, I’ll let them plot the next route.”


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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