The former unified bantamweight world champion returns from a freak injury suffered during his World Boxing Super Series defeat to Nonito Donaire last November, headlining at the Ulster Hall in Belfast on Friday May 17th.
The Belfast fighter moves up four pounds and will look to enter the WBC 122lbs super bantamweight rankings when he contests the organisation’s ‘International’ belt versus Filipino Jelbirt Gomera [14(7)-5(2)].
However, Burnett, who was always described as being tight at bantamweight, is adamant that the move is nothing to do with issues with the scales and points out it may not be a permanent move. The Belfast boxer claims the decision to move up a weight grade came after ‘an opportunity came up’.
Speaking on Newstalk 106FM’s Off The Ball AM yesterday, Burnett explained how “an opportunity has come up at super bantam. I can still make bantamweight comfortable. I am a natural bantamweight but I know I can hold my own at super bantamweight.”
“So an opportunity came at the weight above and if Adam [Booth, coach] has decided it’s the correct way to go he is a man that knows what’s the best way to go.”
The talk from the former IBF and WBA titleholder suggests a big fight may be on the horizon – and with it being a WBC ranking title he is fighting for, Golden Boy’s green beltholder Rey Vargas is a natural conclusion. That said, when discussing the decision his coach indicated it was more a keep the options open mood.
The more media-guarded Booth noted how there is very little difference between the weights and, with three of the 118lbs titles tied up in the WBSS, it made sense to fight at super bantam in case any immediate chances arose.
“It’s funny really the move to super bantamweight is just to open up other opportunities because the difference between bantam and super bantam isn’t much, it’s three pounds,” Booth reasoned.
“I believe the harder fights and the more accomplished and capable champions are actually in the bantamweight division. Ultimately Ryan is a bantamweight and the fight at super bantam is open up extra options, but ideally if a bantamweight world title fight came up that is the one we would go after.”
“Everything is tied up at the moment, certainly for the next couple of months, so rather than sitting on our thumbs waiting for something to come free it’s just about getting Ryan back in the ring and getting some momentum.”
The WBA, IBF, and WBO bantamweight titles will be brought together through the WBSS and one of Naoya Inoue, Manny Rodriguez, Zolani Tete, and Donaire will emerge with all three. The WBC belt is held by Nordine Oubaali, a managerial stablemate of Burnett.
Up at super bantamweight sees Ireland’s only reigning male world champion TJ Doheny hold the IBF belt which he will put on the line versus WBA champion Danny Roman in a unification next week. Along with Vargas and the WBC, there is the WBO belt which is held by Emmanuel Navarette who rematches Isaac Dogboe this summer.
Watch Ryan Burnett and Adam Booth’s interview with Andy Lee on OTBAM below: