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Dublin: 8°C Wednesday 27 January 2021

Ireland's Ryan Burnett selects familiar four-weight world champ for Super Series quarter-final

Just months after his thriller with Carl Frampton, Nonito Donaire will take on another Belfast boxing icon.

WBA WORLD CHAMPION Ryan Burnett [19-0, 9KOs] has selected Nonito Donaire [38-5, 24KOs] as his quarter-final opponent in the prestigious World Boxing Super Series bantamweight competition.

Burnett’s pick means a probable return to Belfast for vaunted future Hall-of-Famer Donaire – this just months after ‘The Filipino Flash’ captured the hearts of Burnett’s hometown in a gallant defeat to Carl Frampton two weights above.

The fight will likely take place in either September or October, with Belfast’s SSE Odyssey Arena – the venue in which Donaire dropped a unanimous decision to the impressive ‘Jackal’ in April – the mooted landing spot.

Untitled Burnett (L) was the top seed in this evening's draft

“Nonito’s been an amazing champion,” Burnett said upon his selection.

He’s a great, great fighter, and I believe that Nonito can bring out the best in me. And that’s what I’m looking for.

Donaire, summoned to centre-stage, said for his part: “I’m very, very excited. I know that Ryan got what it takes, so I’m going to be at my best. Guaranteed.”

Just the second Irishman ever to unify world titles, Burnett, 26, was seeded top ahead of three fellow world champions – Naoya Inoue [16-0, 14KOs, WBA regular], Zolani Tete [27-3, 21KOS, WBO] and Manny Rodriguez [18-0, 12KOs, IBF] respectively – as well as four unseeded entrants including Donaire.

The former Youth Olympic gold medalist had to choose an unseeded fighter as a dance partner, but with IBF mandatory challenger Jason Moloney [17-0, 14KOs] already chalked in for a shot at champ Rodriguez, Burnett’s options were reduced to three: Donaire, Dominican Juan Carlos Payano [20-1, 9KOs] or disgraced former Russian amateur star Mikhail Aloyan [4-0].

He opted for the popular Pinoy, who fast entered Belfast boxing legend in the spring such was his interaction with fans before and after his battle with Frampton.

The winner of the bantamweight series will reportedly win a $4 million prize on top of regular fight earnings accrued throughout the competition. As is custom, he will also be presented with the Muhammad Ali Trophy.

The full quarter-final lineup is as follows:

  • Ryan Burnett (1) vs Nonito Donaire
  • Naoya Inoue (2) vs Juan Carlos Payano
  • Zolani Tete (3) vs Mikhail Aloyan
  • Manny Rodriguez (4) vs Jason Moloney

PP odds Odds via Paddy Power

Japanese ‘Monster’ Inoue [16-0, 14KOs], a three-weight world champion, is hot favourite with the bookies to finish the lucrative competition as the 118-pound kingpin. Burnett is only third-favourite with most betting outlets, slightly behind fourth seed Rodriguez of Puerto Rico.

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

Both are now nearing their conclusion, with Oleksandr Usyk squaring off with Murat Gassiev in a winner-takes-all-four-belts cruiserweight final this Saturday, while WBA World champion George Groves – who beat Chris Eubank Jr in his semi-final – is set to face fellow Briton Callum Smith in the 168-pound showpiece this autumn.

Both read as fight-of-the-year contenders on paper, as do most of the prospective bantamweight clashes which will succeed them in the second season.

A WBSS light-welterweight tournament will also run concurrently to the 118-pound variant in Season 2.

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

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