The cogs had been turning in Eddie Hearn‘s over the past few weeks and the Matchroom boss had the bones of an Irish plan.
Ryan Burnett would win the IBF bantamweight world title against Lee Haskins on Saturday at the SSE Odyssey Arena in Belfast, he would unify the belt then against Zhanat Zhakiyanov at the same venue in September, and then the Matchroom machine would roll into Dublin in November for Katie Taylor‘s world title homecoming.
While Burnett claimed the 118lbs red belt on Saturday with a dominant win over Haskins, ‘Hannibal’ Hearn wasn’t lighting up the cigar just yet and a change of plans now looks to be necessary.
A severe cut to the scalp of Burnett, suffered in just the second round, means that Ireland’s only current world champion will have to wait slightly longer before returning to the ring
With over 4,500 fans at the Odyssey, and an electric atmosphere playing out in front of the Sky cameras, Burnett will most definitely be back, but the when is yet to be decided.
Promoter Hearn outlined how “that [September] was the original plan, but I can’t see how he would be ready for September [due to the cut].
“Carl [Frampton] is going July the 29th. I think that will be his only fight in Belfast this year. So that will give us an opportunity to space it out a little bit, let people recover from that and then we go again in October, maybe even November.”
“Ryan’s only going to box one more time this year, so whether it’s October or November it doesn’t really matter.”
While the minor delay will be of little issue to Burnett, Hearn noted how the nasty gash may cause a knock-on effect for other Irish fighters.
Paul Hyland Jr and James Tennyson both scored impressive wins on Saturday, and the English promoter wants to keep the momentum rolling for the Mark Dunlop-managed duo, with perhaps even a smaller show to facilitate this.
“My concern is the other lads,” said Hearn. “Mainly Hylo and Tennyson because they’ve had good wins and I want them to fight for British titles on the next card as well – so I don’t want to leave it too long because they’ll be looking to get out as well.”
“[We could] do a NXTGEN over here, one of our smaller shows, maybe in the King’s [assume he meant Ulster] Hall. That’s an idea. Let Tennyson headliner there, or Hyland. Bring a couple of our young Olympians over, Buatsi and those kind of boys.”
Then there is the small matter of Katie Taylor. The Bray lightweight has, for a long time, seemed nailed on to be fighting for world honours at the 3Arena in Dublin this November. She too is a fighter affected by Burnett’s cut, with Hearn revealing that a fight in Belfast sandwiched in between her U.S. debut this Summer and a Dublin homecoming had been planned.
The 38 year old brainstormed aloud how “I might bring Katie here [Belfast]. I was thinking the other day to maybe come here in September, and bring Katie here in September, and then fight for the world title in November.”
“But [with the cut] I don’t know, would we go October Belfast, November Dublin? I don’t know. Does Katie sell in Belfast? I don’t see why not.”
“The first thing is to secure a U.S. fight and then look at September. She’ll definitely fight for a world title this year.”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)
LISTEN: Gavan Casey and Joe O’Neill speak to Luke Keeler and Paddy Barnes on Episode 6 of The Irish Boxing Show: