Burnett title bid is just the start: Hearn
Promoter Eddie Hearn believes unbeaten Belfast bantamweight Ryan Burnett is a star in the making.
Tonight at the Manchester Arena, Burnett faces veteran Jason Booth for the vacant British bantamweight title in front of the Sky television cameras and Hearn is expecting the Ulsterman to give his career lift-off.
For all his natural ability, Burnett's career has been something of a slow burner, chalking up 11 wins over moderate opposition but now in Booth he faces an experienced campaigner who has won British and Commonwealth titles at flyweight, bantam and super-bantamweight.
Hearn admits that he had heard about the 23-year-old's potential for some time but it was only last month that he signed Burnett -managed and coached by Adam Booth - to a three-year deal.
"I'd been hearing about Ryan and his potential for about the last 12 months and when a top trainer like Adam Booth says Ryan is the best boxer he has ever worked with then you have to sit up and take notice," said Hearn, who was in Belfast this week to promote Carl Frampton's World super-bantamweight title showdown with Scott Quigg.
"Ryan had gone up to Dave Coldwell's camp where he sparred with Jamie and Gavin McDonnell - the World and European champions - and the reports were very good. Dave told me that the kid is special and then Tony Bellew rang me to say the same thing. So, I rang Adam Booth and within 24 hours had a deal done.
"Adam knows what we can do for him and I know that Sky are very keen to see what Ryan can do. He's a classy fighter, he looks the part and has a cheeky personality.
"It's also worth pointing out that if Adam Booth is prepared to put his time into a fighter then they have to be very good because he has a nice lifestyle and doesn't need to do it."
Tonight, Hearn is keen to see Burnett deliver a performance that will encourage him to bring the 23-year-old back to Belfast and headline a Matchroom show.
"A good win over Booth and I will look to put Ryan on the Frampton-Quigg bill at the Manchester Arena on February 27. Then around April 2016 I want to bring him to Belfast where he can be a star. I see him as the future of Belfast boxing," he said.
"Booth is a tough campaigner and not so long ago he put up a very good performance against Lee Haskins who fights for the IBF World title in the early hours of Sunday morning."