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I'll stay World champion and bring the belt back to Belfast, vows Ryan Burnett

By Gareth Hanna

Belfast boxer Ryan Burnett has vowed to see off his mandatory challenger in Wales on Saturday evening.

The WBA Super Bantamweight World champion takes on Yonfrez Parejo on the undercard of Anthony Joshua's much-anticipated bout against Joseph Parker at Cardiff's Principality Stadium.

Burnett won the belt when he defeated Zhanat Zhakiyanov in Belfast last October. The 25-year-old has since vacated his IBF title in order to take on Venezuelan Parejo.

"I can't wait," he told Sky Sports at Wednesday's public workout. "I'm at the point of my career where I expect nothing but the best of myself. (The crowd) can expect to see me at my best.

"(The belt) is definitely going back to Belfast, without a shadow of a doubt."

Burnett took to the workout ring alongside coach Adam Booth and Sunderland welterweight Josh Kelly. Burnett's training partner is fighting Carlos Molina for the vacant WBA International Welterweight title.

The training was lively - and all with a smile on the faces of the determined trio.

"What you saw there, that's exactly how it is in the gym," said Burnett. "When we need to get serious, Adam does knuckle down but we bounce off each other, there's a great energy in the gym."

Kelly claimed that light-hearted side to the preparations comes from his 'mad character' while the World champ has taught him the need for a serious approach to his training - a well-balanced combination.

"I've just been doing everything the same but thank God the doors have opened up for me," said Burnett of his recent rise to the top.

"I've taken those opportunities and here I am as a World champion. I plan to stay here. Everyone wants a crack at me now which is fair do's. When you're at world level, this is what you can expect."

Saturday's crowd will be the biggest Burnett has ever fought in front of - up to an eye-watering 78,000, the attendance at Joshua's win over Carlos Takam in the same stadium in October. To put that in context, it was a world record for an indoor boxing event, beating the previous record of 63,350set by Muhammad Ali's bout with Leon Spinks in 1978.

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