Ryan Burnett celebrated a night of welcome returns at the Ulster Hall tonight.
The former unified champion returned to the ring after a freak injury suffered last November, returned to Belfast for the first time since his unification win over Zhanat Zhakiyanov in October 2017 and returned to knock out action for the first time since 2015.
The Youth Olympic gold medalist hadn’t registered victory inside the distance in his last nine fights, but managed to stop Jelbirt Gomera to come back with a bang in front of a packed Ulster Hall.
Gomera was brave throughout and although he couldn’t match Burnett for class he wasn’t lacking in heart or effort for the first five rounds.
However, just when the crowd started to believe they were going to see a stylish points win from the home favourite Burnett forced a sixth round stoppage.
Not long after he was docked a point for a low blow, the Beflast fighter, who showed flashes of genuine class throughout, pushed forward and ended the comeback affair with a body shot 2:01 into the sixth stanza.
The Adam Booth trained fighter picked up the WBC International super bantamweight title with the win. The belt should afford him a ranking at a weight that Michael Conlan has in his sights and is where recent world champion TJ Dohney and world title hopeful Tyrone McCullagh compete at. However, a return to bantamweight is more likely and a fight with the winner of the WBBS is the target according to Bob Arum.
Burnett showed no signs of rust right from the off. He was precise and accurate particularly with the right hand against a game enough foe. There was a mixture of relief and joy from the knowledgeable Ulster Hall crowd as their eyes could verify there was no ill effects of the injury suffered in November.
The former unified world champion did look to have the visitor hurt midway through the round, but to the Filipino’s credit he fought back off the ropes.
Gomera looked to press the action in the second and marched forward early on, but the Adam Booth trained fighter showed flashes of his world class talent landing crisp, clean and with real class. Keen to play to the crowd and proving he was enjoying being back Burnett tucked up in a neutral corner for nigh on 30 seconds and invited his opponent in to throw. The Belfast fighter slipped and evaded before finishing the round strong. The Philippine fighter took some clean shots particularly one right hand down the pipe, but looked unfazed.
Again the away puncher marched forward in the third stanza, but Burnett walked him onto some quality shots one uppercut was particularity tasty. The former Youth Olympic gold medal winner did back up his foe on occasion, but when under pressure he bravely fought back in spite of some solid shots south and north of the chest.
The fourth played out in similar fashion with Gomera busy and eager, but not being able to match the former WBA and IBF world champ for class. The South East Asian puncher was ensuring a work out for the returning fighter as well as winning the respect of the crowd for his guts, particularly when he took three big and timed right hands and came back for more.
By the fifth some where suggesting it would take a heavyweight to deter Gomera as the fight continued in the same vain.
Burnett was docked a point early in the sixth for a low blow, but despite the boos there was an understanding it wouldn’t have any real impact on the scorecard as Burnett continued to dominate- and it eventually turned out the judges were not needed as the previously game fighter turned his back after a body shot and the fight was waved off by the referee.
Burnett had started to press forward and was as accurate on the inside as he was on the back foot and after some heavy inside counter punching and one left hook to the body in particular the Philippine wanted out. The referee deemed him unable to continue and waved the fight off.