Ryan Burnett surrenders his WBA bantamweight title in devastating circumstances after succumbing to back injury
Ryan Burnett's reign as WBA world bantamweight champion is over. The 26-year-old Belfast boxer suffered a shock loss tonight to the veteran Filipino born, Californian based Nonito Donaire, who was winning a bantamweight world title for the second time in his remarkable career.
After a tentative opening to the contest, Burnett hit the canvas in the final minute of the fourth round after shipping a body shot. However, he appeared to injury himself seconds earlier when throwing a shot of his own and his back may have gone into spasm.
He survived the count but was clearly in trouble as he retreated back to his corner and after speaking to his trainer Adam Booth, it was signalled to the referee Howard Foster that the Belfast fighter wasn't in a position to continue.
Ever the consummate sportsman Donaire regretted the fact that the contest ended prematurely.
“A win is a win but Ryan Burnett is still a great fighter. My coaches said I could box again and use my speed like I did before and that's what I did.” he explained.
After being attended too by medical personnel Burnett left the ring without commenting.
Donaire – who lost to ex-world two weight champion Carl Frampton in Belfast in March – also previously held titles at flyweight super bantamweight and featherweight– and he also an interim champion at super flyweight. He held the WBO version of the world bantamweight back belt in 2011
He hadn't boxed in the 118lbs bantamweight division for the last seven years. He dropped two divisions and eight pounds in weight in order to take on Burnett, who was unbeaten in his previous 19 pro fights.
Coached by 76-year-old Kenny Woods – who has trained 26 world champions and two US Olympic boxing teams – Donaire rolled back the years to produce to be champion again, though Burnett appeared to be hampered by a possible injury.
Not withstanding the fact, the loss is a significant blow to his career.
As all the other world bantamweight title holders are involved in the new World Series of boxing show which is designed to produce an undisputed champion, Burnett's will not have an opportunity to have a crack to retaining his belt until late in 2019.
In a tentative opening round, Donaire scored first as the defending title holder stalked his opponent but failed to land a telling blow. Though he eventually got his jab going, his opponent was the more the aggressive getting through with a couple of telling body shots.
Burnett took the centre of the ring at the start of round 2 and landed the clearer shots though Donaire kept coming forward. In the final 30 second of the round Burnett was caught in the corner on two occasions but in between he lacked a couple of quality shots.
In round three Burnett started to land heavy blows but again got caught in the corner; he seem to be inviting Donaire to come forward as he effectively worked his jab and connected with a couple of punishing shots in the closing seconds of the round.
Burnett's left jab kept Donaire at bay in the fourth and he seemed to be finally finding his rhythm. But then he over-stretched his landing a body shot and fell to the canvass after shipping a decent body shot from Donaire in the last 30 seconds of the rouund.
Tentatively he got back to his feet on the count of seven but looked in serious trouble and struggled to finish the round. He was holding his side as he retreated gingerly back to his corner and after a brief discussion with Adam Booth he indicated that he wasn't fit to enough.
His reign as WBA world champion had ended in the most unsatisfactory manner imaginable.