Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Boxing

Old-fashioned Burnett should give us all hope in 'weird' social media days, says coach


By David Kelly

Coach Adam Booth has been around boxing long enough to see through a fog of hyperbole that so often sits on the shoulders of the latest rising star. So, he is quite happy to sit back and allow Ryan Burnett's fists do most of the talking.

Burnett answered his first challenge in June when, despite suffering an ugly cut on his forehead, he lifted the IBF bantamweight title from a bewildered Lee Haskins in only his 17th bout.

Most fighters would like to build on such a victory with a small step up in class but instead Burnett is comfortable immediately going straight into a world title unification clash with WBA World title holder Zhanat Zhakiyanov in Belfast's SSE Arena this Saturday night.

Burnett's lack of social media interaction compared to some, even those further down the boxing order of merit, ahead of such a highly anticipated duel certainly doesn't reflect the intense ambition of the 25-year-old.

"Ryan has a genuine old fashioned attitude to boxing, he's a throwback to a different era and I find that refreshing," said Booth, who once guided the careers of David Haye and George Groves.

"A modern day fighter like Ryan should give us all hope in today's weird times. These days you have one fighter tweeting another and giving each other abuse and somehow that turns into a fight getting made. It's like playground stuff on social media where the other kids are gathering around shouting 'fight, fight'. But often barking dogs don't bite.

"That's not the way Ryan is. He's all about striving for the next challenge which is what I like because if you're standing still then really you're going backwards.

"He's just 25 years old and having only his 18th fight against Zhanat so that tells you everything about Ryan and his attitude to boxing. It's just a case of here's the date and venue now let's have a real fight."

Booth, one of the most highly respected coaches in the UK, took over as Burnett's manager and coach when he parted company with former world champion Ricky Hatton.

Immediately he was struck by the deep tenacity that Burnett possesses and, over the past two years, he has guided the Belfast man to British and World bantamweight titles.

Zhakiyanov will offer a stern test of Burnett's skills, and is by some distance his toughest challenge, but he's a challenge that Booth welcomes.

"When you look at making a choice to take a fight like this, you have to look at the individualand their capabilities and desires - that genuine desire to be the best in the world. Some fighters have that attitude and some have a business mentality towards boxing and I've experienced both as a promoter and manager," added Booth.

"Ryan picked up a version of the World title when he beat Haskins for the IBF title but there are three other champions out there and if you don't have the desire to win the other belts then really you don't have a champion's mentality but Ryan does.

"I applaud the fact that Ryan has taken this fight and also that Zhanat wants to do it. On Saturday you have two good champions matched up against each other in a very exciting fight. That's what boxing should be about.

"It says everything about the desire that courses through Ryan's veins. I'd love to see him win all four belts.

"He's not fake, he's not about being a salesman, he's about being a fighter. Often today you see a lot of people wanting as much as they can get for doing as little as they have to.

"Ryan has put in the hard work in this camp, he has been really stretched and he's where I want him to be and that's why I'm really excited about this fight."

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph