Belfast Telegraph

Boxing clever - champ Ryan hails fiancee's support

By Allan Preston

Belfast boxer Ryan Burnett has broken with tradition for the build-up to his big fight this Saturday by having his fiancee Lara Milner by his side for the first time at his 10-week training camp.

The 25-year-old IBF bantamweight title holder has praised his other half - a lead dancer with Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance - for keeping his focus ahead of the biggest fight of his life.

On Saturday Burnett has the chance to take the WBA belt off Manchester-based Kazakh boxer Zhanat Zhakiyanov at the SSE Arena.

Usually, boxers isolate themselves from the comfort of family life to maintain their focus for a major bout.

Fellow Belfast boxer Carl Frampton travelled to his London base weeks before his recent fights, with his wife Christine choosing to stay at home with his children.

Burnett, who plans to marry his 23-year-old fiancee in 2020, said her presence at the training camp had kept him on the path to victory.

The happy couple met as teenagers in 2012 at a Belfast nightclub before getting engaged this year at the Galgorm Resort and Spa outside Ballymena.

"I'm very thankful for her because she has put her career on hold for me," said Burnett.

"All I do during camp is eat, sleep, train and then repeat. There's no socialising at all, that's all I do. I live it for the whole time I'm in camp because I know that's what has to be done to be successful at the highest level."

He added: "Having Lara with me has helped me just focus on what I have to do.

"Lara has cooked and washed for me, cleaned for me, and just having her there for emotional support, for someone to talk to, to break up the days and keep me relaxed when things can get tense has been great.

"It speaks volumes about Lara that she has been prepared to be away from her friends and just devote all her time to me. She knows how much this means to me."

Yesterday, Burnett's supportive partner took a well-earned break from the ringside as he held a public workout at Belfast's Victoria Square.

Speaking to the Sunday Life, Miss Milner said watching his fights could be a gut-wrenching experience.

"I'm so proud of Ryan and I love what he does and what he's achieved, but I always feel a bit sick during the fight," she said.

"I'm like his cheerleader, screaming from the ringside, but until the final round is over or the fight is stopped, I'm a bit on edge.

"Once I know he's fine then I'm bursting with pride.

"I'm really looking forward to the fight, but I haven't a clue what I'm going to wear yet.

"I was saying to Ryan that I need to get myself organised."

See Sport, Page 46

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