Belfast bantamweight Ryan Burnett [16(9)-0] currently sits without a confirmed fight date, however talk from promoter Eddie Hearn suggests that there could be a big title clash in the pipeline for him.
In one of his regular extended interviews with IFL, Matchroom boss Hearn looked ahead to his upcoming schedule and, with the majority of his fighters already tied up, it looks like at least one of his mooted plans will feature Burnett.
The Ulsterman last fought in February, claiming an eight round points win in a keep-busy contest against gam Mexican journeyman Joseafat Reyes on the Rey Vargas v Gavin McDonnell WBC super bantamweight title clash in Hull.
With a mandatory defence against Josh Wale pending, the North Belfast fighter recently relinquished his British title. Most view this as a sign that a big fight is on the horizon for the Adam Booth-trained boxer.
Looking at the Matchroom stable, Burnett is one of the few big fighters without an upcoming date, recent fight, or a long-term injury. Accompanying him in this bracket are the likes of Nathan Cleverly, Conor Benn, and Stephen and Paul Smith.
In terms of Hearn’s own plans, the interview featured three points of note, any of which could be in relation to Burnett.
The first of these is a new show, most likely on Saturday June 17th, at an unconfirmed location, which will be topped by a world title fight. Hearn teased that “we got some great news yesterday about a world title fight which will be announced probably next week. It’s a new show, for June.”
Could this perhaps be the seemingly forever-promised Belfast homecoming for Burnett that had been suggested for both April 2016 and April 2017?
In addition to this, the English promoter added that he is “hoping to announce another world title fight as chief support for the Brook-Spence.”
This card takes place at Bramall Lane in Sheffield on Saturday May 27th.
Finally Hearn promised a final announcement to the undercard of the Anthony Joshua v Wladimir Klitschko pay-per-view undercard at Wembley Stadium on Saturday April 29th. He stated that there will be “another title fight to announce on Monday or Tuesday for the AJ card.”
With this bout seemingly not a world title affair, it could be the long-mooted European title shot for Burnett or even a final eliminator with a rankings belt on the line. In terms of the identity of his fighter, Hearn said that it is “a fighter coming through who I think is one of the biggest at what they do.”
With all three of these announcements expected in the next week, before the Joshua-Klitschko fight takes over the news cycle, it looks like we may know Burnett’s next move in the very near future.
In terms of pure educated guessing, the spot on the Joshua-Klitschko bill seems unlikely. Between the first two options, both seem distinctly possible, with a Sheffield slot being a slight front-runner in this writer’s eyes due to the mooted Nathan Cleverly-Badou Jack fight being a more marketable headline fight in its own right.
In the world rankings, Burnett is #6 with the WBC, #12 with the WBA, #14 with the IBF, and #13 with the WBO.
WBC champ Shinsuke Yamanaka defended his belt just last month and has never fought outside Japan, while WBO titlist Marlon Tapales defends his strap next weekend in Japan against Shohei Omori. The believed preferred option, Burnett’s former gym-mate under Ricky Hatton, Zhanat Zhakiyanov, has no fight currently scheduled, while IBF titlist Lee Haskins has promised an announcement on his next fight soon.
Watch Eddie Hearn’s interview with IFL TV in full below: