Tete: I want to give Ryan Burnett a chance to become a world champion again
Gutted Ryan Burnett is facing a considerable absence from the ring - and a potential £2m loss - following his heart-breaking loss to Nonito Donaire on Saturday night in Glasgow's SSE Hydro Arena.
Burnett sustained a slipped disc during his World bantamweight title defence with the 35-year-old Filipino, leading to his retirement as the bell sounded to start the fifth round - and loss of his WBA belt in the World Boxing Super Series quarter-final clash.
Stretchered from the ring in agony and taken to hospital, a tearful Burnett will now need a long time to recover and just when he will be able to return to the ring is unclear.
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Having returned home yesterday, he is expected to have a further scan on his back at a local hospital today.
The devastated 26-year-old former champion had believed he was on course for a life-changing windfall of around £2m if he had won the tournament's Muhammad Ali trophy - and had been lined up to face South African rival Zolani Tete in March at Belfast's SSE Arena.
Instead, WBO bantamweight champion Tete will now face a rejuvenated Donaire who despite the hollow ending to his victory had nevertheless demonstrated that he was once again a force at 118lb, having lost to Carl Frampton earlier this year at featherweight - two divisions above bantam.
South African Tete, speaking exclusively to the Belfast Telegraph, did however offer Burnett some comfort as he starts his recovery by insisting he would still face the Belfast man once the World Boxing Super Series has concluded next summer.
Tete said: "I was absolutely shocked by what happened to Ryan but that is boxing. I felt very bad for Ryan and I was really looking forward to fighting him because he was the WBA champion and one of the best guys in the division with a beautiful style."
Tete added: “I am hoping that he makes a full recovery and when he is ready I want to give him a chance at fighting for the world title.
“I want to go on and unify all the belts in this World Boxing Super Series and if Ryan is ready I will give him a shot.
“If he had beaten Donaire I was willing to come to Belfast and face him and I would still like to go to Belfast and defend against Ryan.
“In fact I would love to have my World Boxing Super Series semi-final with Nonito Donaire in Belfast.
“Donaire is a real warrior, he is respected there and I got a great reception when I fought there twice.”
Tete is eagerly awaiting his clash with Donaire, and added: “I believe I have the tools to win the Muhammad Ali trophy.
“I’m so delighted to be fighting Donaire with the two titles on the line because he is a fighter who has done everything in the ring.”
Tete’s manager Mlandeli Tengimfene confirmed that the WBO champion was all set to face Burnett in Belfast early next year.
“I wanted the Burnett fight... one of the reasons I wanted him was that there was a bonus payment for fighting a UK-based boxer so I was furious!” said Tengimfene.
“But we do feel very sorry for Ryan and wish him a speedy recovery. It was very unfortunate.”
Meanwhile, Josh Taylor’s seventh-round stoppage of Ryan Martin has left him “super confident” for the semi-final against Ivan Baranchyk.
The 27-year-old super-lightweight from Prestonpans controlled the fight against the previously unbeaten American, whose night was ended by referee Victor Loughlin after he felt the full force of the Scot’s power to the head and body.
Taylor extended his unbeaten record to 14-0-0 to hold on to his WBC Silver championship belt and will take on new IBF super-lightweight champion Baranchyk in the next stage of the eight-fighter tournament.
The 2014 Commonwealth Gold medal winner said: “I’m super confident. I never got out of second gear.
“I probably could have got him out earlier if I’d really put my foot on the gas. I was absolutely delighted with the performance and the atmosphere was the best I’ve experienced. It was so loud, the reception I got was unbelievable.”