Ryan Burnett primed for WBA 118-pound title defense against Yonfrez Parejo
WBA bantamweight titleholder Ryan Burnett will defend against Yonfrez Parejo on the undercard of the Anthony Joshua-Joseph Parker unification matchup at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, on Saturday.
Burnett, who is rated No. 3 by THE RING at 118 pounds, is acutely aware of Parejo’s ability but believes he’s more than ready to thrill the crowd with his own skills.
“It’s a big fight,” Burnett told RingTV.com. “I’m fighting my WBA mandatory challenger and he’s not in the position for no reason. He’s a very talented lad. I know exactly what I’ve got in front of me but I also know I’ve got the tools to deal with the situation.
“I feel as if I’m more of a tricky person. I’ve got more ring-generalship than him. He brings the knowledge, he brings the experience, he’s been in with good fighters. We both have good strengths going into this fight.
“I’ve done all the hard work, done the correct work and I’m looking forward to the night now.”
It’s been a whirlwind year for the 25-year-old from Belfast. In June, Burnett took the IBF title from Lee Haskins and unified the WBA belt by defeating Zhanat Zhakiyanov four months later. Both victories came by 12-round unanimous decision.
Since those career-best victories, boxing politics have cost Burnett (18-0, 9 KOs) his IBF title, although he accepts that decision without complaint.
“That’s out of my control,” he said. “I focus on the things that I can control and that’s how hard I train and how dedicated I am. Everything else is out of my control, therefore I pay no attention to it.
“[Trainer] Adam [Booth] phoned me up and said, ‘Look, this is what the IBF have decided to do’ and I said, ‘No problem’. It is what it is and I haven’t thought twice about it.”
Although Burnett won both of his world titles at home, he is not averse to travelling. As an amateur, the Belfast man won the World Youth title in Azerbaijan in 2010 and the Youth Olympics in Singapore the same year. Since moving into the professional ranks, he’s fought in England, the U.S. and Bulgaria.
“Being away from Belfast is not unfamiliar for me,” said Burnett. “I’ve boxed my whole career away from home. I was lucky enough to have my two world title fights in Belfast.
“I’ve stepped up to massive stages. I’ve been the main event on two world title shows. I’ve got that experience now, thank God. I’ve been in the (Principality) stadium before at Joshua-(Carlos) Takam, so I know how that’s gonna feel. I’ve got the correct knowledge in place.”
The unbeaten Burnett spent 10 weeks in camp, most of it in London, however, to break things up he, along with his team, travelled to Monaco for two weeks.
Burnett feels that the 118-pound division is brimming with talent and whilst he isn’t looking past Parejo (21-2-1, 10 KOs), he hopes to get in there with the other top bantamweights soon.
“At the moment the division is absolutely flying,” said Burnett. “To be honest I feel blessed to be a part of it. I’m 25 and I’ve held two belts and I’m excited now.
“I think [WBO titleholder Zolani] Tete is a great champion. He’s a very good boxer, very skilled. He’s not world champion for nothing. When you’re at world level, these big fights are always around the corner. Once I take care of business on Saturday it’s back to the drawing board and we’ll see what happens.”
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