Belfast bantamweight Ryan Burnett [19(9)-0] has been handed a massive boost ahead of the Draft Gala for the second season of the World Boxing Super Series.
The Draft Gala takes place later today in Moscow and it has been confirmed this morning that the WBA champion has been installed as the number one seed and will have first pick of three potential opponents.
Burnett, who is in the Russian capital for the event, will have a choice of either Filipino four-weight world champion Nonito Donaire [38(24)-5(1)], Russian former amateur star Misha Aloyan [4(0)-0], or Dominican former bantamweight champ Juan Carlos Payano [20(9)-1(0)].
The other unseeded fighter is Australian Jason Moloney [17(14)-0] but, as IBF mandatory challenger, a fight with champion and number four seed Manny Rodriguez [18(12)-0] has been pre-arranged.
Seeded number two is Japanese star Naoya Inoue [16(14)-0] with WBO champ Zolani Tete [27(21)-3(1)] of South Africa the third seed.
Should Burnett win his quarter-final match-up, he would face the winner of the bout involving Tete – who, along with his promoter Frank Warren, has been calling for a fight with the Irishman the past year.
Who Burnett chooses for the opening round is unsure – although his manager and trainer Adam Booth and promoter Eddie Hearn no doubt have a plan in place.
Olympic bronze medalist and double World Amateur champion Aloyan could be seen as a high-risk, low-reward fight, while southpaw Payano is not a majorly known name.
Then there is Donaire who is stepping down two weights for the tournament.
The Filipino Flash endeared himself to Irish fight fans back in April before, during, and after his clash with former Burnett training partner Carl Frampton, and would look to be many people’s preference for the Antrim Road fighter’s first fight.
Burnett, whose participation in the tournament had been in doubt in recent weeks, has previously spoken of his desire for his quarter-final bout to take place at the SSE Odyssey Arena in Belfast where he won and unified world titles last year versus Lee Haskins and Zhanat Zhakiyanov respectively.