The sounds of Queen’s ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ echoed throughout the SSE Arena in Glasgow as Ryan Burnett embarked on his walk to face off with Nonito Donaire in the last quarter final of the bantamweight edition of the World Boxing Super Series. However irony proved to be cruel as the Belfast man was forced to taste defeat himself, retiring on his stool at the end of the fourth round after sustaining a freak injury.
The fight’s untimely conclusion comes as a disappointment to all except Donaire, as the already action-packed affair was looking set to only heat up as the rounds wore on.
In the opening round The Filipino Flash – who moves to 39-5 – found some success, navigating around Burnett’s trademark upper body movement by landing stinging shots to the midriff in a high-tempo three minutes that saw Burnett find joy himself with some clean jabs when he got his fleet footwork in motion.
Now 19-1 after suffering his first loss, Burnett built on this in the second, finding his rhythm against Donaire, who was noticeably large at the weight he was having his first fight at since departing from it for pastures new seven years ago. The bigger man’s punches looked dangerous, but weren’t quite catching their target as Burnett took the round with a big right hand and a clean combination that was rounded off loudly with a left hook.
Donaire found his way back into the fight in a competitive third that saw him trap his opponent in the corner at the beginning and end of the round and unload vicious body shots and chopping overhand rights, while Burnett made the round debatable by dominating its middle portion from mid-range.
The fourth and final round was almost suspiciously quiet by comparison, fought at a slower and more thoughtful pace until Burnett reached with a right hand that appeared to tweak his back, and forced him to take a knee without a punch being thrown in his direction. The now former WBA Super champion arose at the count of eight, and braved on until the end of the round despite being in visible distress as Donaire poured the pressure on.
Worst fears were realised as Burnett told Adam Booth that the pain was such that he couldn’t even throw his right hand, prompting his trainer to instruct referee Howard Foster to bring an anti-climactic end to proceedings.
“Age ain’t nothing but a number” boasted Donaire in the ring afterwards, who also picked up the vacant WBC Diamond title for his troubles. The future Hall of Fame inductee progresses on to the semi finals to face South African Zolani Tete, while Burnett will no doubt be left frustrated that the tournament’s format prevents him from securing an immediate return with his foe.