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Burnett calls time on his career

Ryan Burnett pictured after his win over Zhanat Zhakiyanov in November 2017 when he became unified IBF and WBA world bantamweight champion
Photo by William Cherry/Inpho Ryan Burnett pictured after his win over Zhanat Zhakiyanov in November 2017 when he became unified IBF and WBA world bantamweight champion Photo by William Cherry/Inpho
By David Mohan

FORMER unified bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett has confirmed his retirement from boxing.

The 27 year-old Newington man enjoyed a remarkable career as an amateur and pro, but the accumulation of injuries forced his hand has prompted him to call it a day.

“Although my retirement is forced through injuries, I carry a heart full of satisfaction and gratitude,” Burnett said in a statement.

“I have achieved my childhood dream and secured my future health, which is something no amount of money or titles can provide. I would like to thank everyone at MTK, Top Rank, Sky Sports and Matchroom for providing me the opportunity to fulfill my potential as a fighter.”

Burnett shot to prominence back in 2010 when he took gold at the Youth Olympics in Singapore and remained in the amateur ranks – boxing out of Holy Family under the guidance of Gerry Storey – for just over a year before signing a professional contract with Ricky Hatton.

However, having relocated to Manchester, his debut was delayed for over a year due to an issue with his brain scan and he finally made his debut with a first round stoppage win over Lazslo Nemesapati at Liverpool’s Olympia in March 2013.

He would fight and win three more times under Hatton that year before deciding to part ways with ‘The Hitman’ and this resulted in another year of inactivity, during which time he was temporarily homeless and spent six weeks sleeping in a jeep lent to them by the Mancunian.

However, Burnett’s incredible talents were not to go unnoticed and he was to link-up with trainer, Adam Booth before making his return at The Devenish with a one-round demolition of Valentin Marinov in November 2014.

Six fights later in October 2015, he collected the WBO European bantamweight strap with a second round win over Robert Kanalas before signing a promotional deal with Eddie Hearn. His first fight under the Matchroom banner one month later resulted in a points win over Jason Booth for the British title.

The wins kept coming with a world title challenge delivered against Lee Haskins in June 2017 at the SSE Arena in just his 17th professional bout.

Burnett rose to the occasion against the IBF champion, scoring knockdowns in rounds six and 11 to score a wide points victory that was initially ruled a split decision after a confused judge, Clark Sammartino, had mixed the fighters up and incorrectly awarded the decision to Haskins to the disbelief of all in attendance, but this was soon rectified.

Burnett had to come through adversity in that title win as a clash of heads in the second opened a horrific gash on his forehead, but he boxed beautifully to become world champion.

Not content with one title, in his next outing back at the SSE Arena in November of that year, Burnett was to add the WBA strap with a wide, unanimous points win against Zhanat Zhakiyanov in what was a brutal battle. He was forced to grit his teeth against the Kazakh – trained by none other than Hatton – to grind out the win after producing the performance of his life.

That win made Burnett just the second-ever Irish fighter to become a unified champion, but boxing politics was to result in him dropping the IBF belt for his next outing – another wide points victory over Yonfrez Parejo at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff – when he was forced to box for half of the fight with an injured hand.

Injuries had been mounting, but nobody could envisage the misfortune that was to befall him in last November’s World Boxing Super Series quarter-final against Nonito Donaire in Glasgow when – with the fight warming up and Burnett beginning to take charge – he was forced to retire at the end of the fourth round following a freak back injury that resulted in torn muscle fibres in his right internal oblique where a portion of the muscle detached from the bone.

Burnett did return from this injury in May of this year when – under the banner of Top Rank and MTK Global – he stopped Jelbirt Gomera in six rounds at the Ulster Hall that moved his career to a final 20-1 with 10 of those wins inside the distance.

However, earlier this evening, Burnett confirmed this was his last time inside the squared circle with the accumulation of injuries finally taking their toll and calling time on one of Belfast’s most successful boxers.

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