Burnett told his back injury is not career-ending
Ryan Burnett has received a major boost as his back injury is nowhere near as bad as first thought and a return to the ring in 2019 is expected.
After losing his WBA World bantamweight title last Saturday night when retiring at the start of the fifth round due to what was a slipped disc, it has been learned that the Belfast man tore a muscle.
In a statement on social media, Burnett said: "I am absolutely gutted not to be World Champion. This scenario was totally out of my control, but I understand injury is the difficult part of sporting life.
"My assessments have been completed, and diagnosed that I have torn muscle fibres in my right internal oblique, where a portion of the muscle has also detached from the bone where it inserts.
"This is not a career-ending injury, but it is one that will require intensive treatment and rehabilitation. I will pick myself up, make myself strong again, and get back to where I believe I belong, as champion of the World."
Meanwhile, Tony Bellew claims he would have been "haunted" had he turned down tonight's clash with undisputed world cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk.
Bellew said: "If it was about money I could have fought a much lesser fighter and earned much more. I took this fight - it is the biggest challenge of my life."