Ryan Burnett believes he’s edging closer to bringing a major title fight to Belfast as he defends his WBC International Bantamweight title against Cesar Ramirez at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on tonight.
Burnett knows that there are big plans for him should he keep hold of his belt in his first defence, with promoter Eddie Hearn and coach Adam Booth saying that the classy Belfast fighter could soon be mixing with the top names and champions in the 118lbs division, and that has pushed the Burnett to work even harder in the gym.
“I have been putting in a lot of work,” said Burnett, who scaled 8st 5lbs 4oz, two ounces less than Ramirez. “It isn’t too long ago that I found out a World title shot could be very close for me, and that brings a lot of excitement.”
Indeed Burnett is not overawed by his team’s claims and explained that “I am happy to be named among guys at the level of [IBF champ] Haskins, Hall and Jamie McDonnell. If I am being named that high I have to stand up to the mark and Adam thinks I am ready.”
“For Eddie to say I am three fights away from facing the winner of Haskins vs. Hall is a big statement. Stuart and Lee Haskins are amazing fighters and I am being mentioned in the same breath.”
“We are a close-knit group in the gym. Andy Lee is a former World champion who has been there and done it so I am in a good place with a great thing there.”
Saturday night is a big night for Belfast boxing as Carl Frampton faces Leo Santa Cruz in Brooklyn in the early hours of the morning looking to become a two-weight World champion. Burnett believes he can join Frampton as a World ruler and wants to do so on his home patch.
“In Belfast there are great fighters,” said Burnett. “It is a city which produces champions. Jamie Conlan is a fine champion, Tommy McCarthy is up and coming, there is a good bunch there and it will work well for when Eddie brings the Sky Sports cameras back to Belfast.
“I want to headline there and with Eddie, who knows the game inside out, and Adam, who has worked with David Haye and a lot of great fighters, I have the perfect team to make it all happen.”
Burnett’s clash with Ramirez is part of the web-streamed undercard in Leeds where hometown favourite Josh Warrington defends his WBC International featherweight title against Patrick Hyland – but the lightly-regarded title is not on the line for the Jobstown boxer as he failed to make the weight.