Burnett out after staging fine defence
Ryan Burnett faces another enforced break from boxing after breaking his right hand when beating Venezuelan Yonfrez Parejo on points in his first defence of the WBA world bantamweight title in Cardiff's Principality Stadium on Saturday night.
The 25-year-old unbeaten Belfast pugilist was taken to the nearby University of Wales Hospital for an X-ray on his damaged hand and to have a gash on the bridge of his nose - which he sustained in a clash of heads in the fourth round - attended to.
"I'm glad its all over," said a somewhat subdued Burnett. "To be honest I was just warming into it. I felt I could have stopped him, but at the beginning of the third round I hit him with my right hand and I felt my hand go. So for the rest of the fight I couldn't use it.
"Any time I let my hands go and my right touched him, I got a sharp pain. I had to rely on my boxing to get through the rounds and win them with my jab."
It is a measure of the consummate professional that Burnett has become that he still dominated the 12 rounds, though his 31-year-old opponent is well past his peak.
Two of the judges, Howard Foster (England) and Nelson Vazquez (Puerto Rico) awarded the defending title holder all 12 rounds on their scorecards (120-108). However, the Polish official Pawel Kardyni somehow gave the Venezuelan four rounds (116-112). At best Parejo possibly took the second round, otherwise he was outclassed.
Nonetheless, Burnett was preoccupied about what might have been afterwards. He last stopped an opponent in 2015 and believed this was a missed opportunity - even if it was beyond his control.
"I definitely would have stopped him if my right hand hadn't gone. Any time I did land the right he was wobbling," he said as he contemplated his third successive trip to A&E after world title fights.
While the Burnett camp expects him to make a full recovery, the timing of the injury is unfortunate.
His promoter Eddie Hearn hinted last week that Burnett would be invited to box in the second season of the newly-launched World Boxing Super Series, which would be restricted to the top eight bantamweights in the world and could have a total purse of $25m (€20m).
"Being honest, I have paid no attention to that whatsoever. I just concentrated on the fight," said Burnett, who has extended his unbeaten record to 19 fights.
In the event of the Super Series falling through for bantamweights, Burnett's next defence of his WBA belt is likely to come in the autumn against the winner of the May showdown in Japan between Doncaster's Jamie McDonnell and Naoya Inoue, the current WBO World super flyweight champion.