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AND STILL: Dominant Ryan Burnett retains World title in Cardiff

Ryan Burnett is still the WBA bantamweight champion of the word following a win in Wales tonight.

The Belfast fighter defeated mandatory challenger Yonfrez Parejo on points in one of the chief support bouts on the massive Anthony Joshua v Joshua Parker heavyweight unification card at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

It was the Antrim Road man’s first appearance on a pay-per-view card and a first world title fight away from home and he claimed a comfortable win in front of tens of thousands of fans in the rugby stadium.

Burnett had won the IBF title last Summer and unified when he dethroned WBA chap Zhanat Zhakiyanov in October. However, with mandatories pending from both bodies, the red belt was dropped after the Parejo fight was made and IBF mandatory Emmanuel Rodriguez refused to budge.

And so it was just the one strap on the line, with Burnett faced with a Top Ten-level opponent. A former holder of the WBA interim bantamweight trinkets, Parejo’s only two losses had come to past titlists Hugo Ruiz and Zhakiyanov but he was thoroughly beaten by the Irishman tonight.

It was a cagey opening round, as expected, with both fighters feeling each other out with tentative jabs. As the round progressed Burnett began to incorporate some hooks, but nothing major was landed.

A few thudding rights came in from Burnett at the start of the second – and Parejo responded with a few clipping shots of his own – before things got a bit scrappy towards the end with both still trying to warm into the contest.

Burnett was showing the more quality work in the third round, however, the rugged Parejo was digging in and landing his fair share. Cracks began to appear ever so slightly though for the South American who was slightly wobbled in the final thirty.

The Ulsterman started the fourth on the offensive, really starting to open up and launching sharp volleys that were rattling the head of Parejo back.

The Venezuelan was becoming more and more defensive and shelled up into the fifth round – with Burnett at one stage backing himself into a corner, goading Parejo.

Successive uppercuts rocked Parejo early in the sixth before another, even big, such shot in the closing seconds as the bout hit half-way and the one-way Burnett traffic continued into the seventh.

Burnett complained of a hand injury in the interval and 31-year-old Parejo has something of a resurgence in the eighth, but it was the home fighter still landing the better shots.

Perhaps due to the injury, or maybe in light of his dominance, Burnett began to ease off from the ninth on, cruising to the final bell, using the right sparingly.

Going to the cards, Burnett was given a 120-108 whitewash on two ledgers, with a harsh 116-112 with the other judge.

The win sees Burnett improve his record to 19(9)-0 while the game but outclassed Parejo dropped to 21(10)-3(1)-1


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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