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Irish world champion Ryan Burnett confirmed to enter World Boxing Super Series

Belfast’s Burnett is expected to be unveiled as a seeded quarter-finalist in the eight-man tournament tomorrow.

Image: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

Updated May 9th 2018, 3:54 PM

IRELAND’S RYAN BURNETT will be one of eight fighters to partake in the upcoming bantamweight World Boxing Super Series.

The undefeated former unified world champion from Belfast, who recently relinquished his IBF title but remains the WBA kingpin, will enter the hugely popular single-elimination tournament alongside two ferocious fellow world beltholders, rival Zolani Tete of South Africa and Puerto Rico’s Manny Rodriguez – the latter of whom accrued the vacant IBF belt with a stunning victory over Paul Butler on Saturday.

The quarter-finals are scheduled to begin in September.

Burnett, Tete and Rodriguez had their participation confirmed at a press conference in London today.

A light-welterweight tournament – featuring Regis Prograis, Kiryl Relikh, Eduard Troyanovsky, Ivan Baranchyk, Anthony Yigit and three other contestants – is due to be announced in the coming weeks, as is a contest in a third separate weight division.

inpho_01352525 Burnett defended his WBA world title with a classy display in March Source: Photosport/Andrew Cornega/INPHO

Organised by Kalle Sauerland and financially backed by the Comosa Group, the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) embarked upon its maiden season with super-middleweight and cruiserweight tournaments last year.

Both are now nearing their conclusion, with WBA World champion George Groves – who beat Chris Eubank Jr in his semi-final – set to face fellow Briton Callum Smith in the 168-pound final, and Oleksandr Usyk squaring off with Murat Gassiev in a winner-takes-all-four-belts showdown up at 190.

The super-middleweights and cruiserweights split a $50million prize pool last season, though it’s currently unclear as to how much money will be up for grabs for Burnett and company in season two.

As a world champion, Burnett will be a seeded entrant, which in the previous season would have meant he could select his quarter-final opponent. However, Japanese star Naoya ‘The Monster’ Inoue fights Jamie McDonnell on 25 May with the winner becoming a WBA-sanctioned mandatory challenger for Burnett’s title. Therefore, should Inoue emerge victorious as expected, and enter the WBSS as he has previously hinted, Burnett’s quarter-final clash could be pre-mandated.

It’s also hoped that the soon-to-be-crowned WBC bantamweight king – one of Nordine Oubaali and Tassana Sanpattan, who fight in June – will join fellow world champs Burnett (WBA), Tete (WBO) and Rodriguez (IBF) in the WBSS: were the four world title belts to remain in play for the duration of the competition, the eventual winner would be crowned the undisputed World bantamweight champion.

Ryan Burnett in action against Zhanat Zhakiyanov Burnett beat old friend Zhanat Zhakiyanov in a brawl to unify world title belts Source: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

“After a fantastic first season with Super Middleweight and Cruiserweight, we have decided that bigger is better. So we are going out with three divisions in our second season,” said Comosa’s Chief Boxing Officer, Kalle Sauerland.

“We are delighted to have three champions agreed to go into the Bantamweight tournament.”

“Burnett, Rodriguez and Tete represent three continents, they represent what the World Boxing Super Series is all about and we cannot wait to see these amazing athletes compete for the Muhammad Ali Trophy.”

In hoisting the IBF belt along with his WBA version last October, Burnett became only the second Irish fighter in history after Carl Frampton to unify world titles. Katie Taylor became the third last Saturday week.

Ireland’s last lineal – or ‘man who beat the man who beat the man’ – world champion was ‘The Clones Cyclone’ Barry McGuigan.

Ryan Burnett might be Ireland’s greatest ever fighter before he becomes a household name

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