Former bantamweight titleholder Ryan Burnett returned to action after a six-month layoff due to a back injury suffered in his fight last November with Nonito Donaire, which cost Burnett the IBF and WBA titles. Today in Belfast, he stopped Jelbirt Gomera in the sixth round in a super bantamweight contest that was scheduled for 12.
Burnett (20-1, 10 KO) admitted to some ring rust, which is understandably, but overall was quicker, sharper, and just better than Gomera (14-6, 7 KO), a Filipino southpaw who was game early but became less so every time Burnett landed a body shot.
As for the body shots, they were really the ultimate story of the fight. Put simply, Gomera didn’t like them, and complained almost every time one landed that it had been low. Referee John Latham took Gomera’s complaints seriously enough to twice warn Burnett, but when Gomera did it again in the sixth and turned his back, Latham simply called the fight off, declaring Burnett winner via TKO as Gomera was no longer defending himself.
We’re certainly not saying that no body shots may have strayed a bit below the belt, but Gomera was complaining and pointing at his groin when Burnett landed on the sides of Gomera’s body.
All in all, it was the expected tune-up return for Burnett, who was happy to be back in action at Ulster Hall in his hometown.
“It’s good to be back. I felt a little bit rusty in there, if I’m honest. I got the win and it’s time to put the head down and get serious again,” Burnett said after.
Burnett didn’t make any clear statement about whether he’ll stay at 122 or look to go back down to 118, but he did say he can still comfortably make 118, and that he’d like a rematch with Nonito Donaire.
“Donaire’s an incredible fighter and I didn’t get to finish my fight with him. A rematch could be very likely,” Burnett said. “I think Belfast would like to see it, I’d like to see it.”
Donaire, who is headed to the World Boxing Super Series final against either Naoya Inoue or Emmanuel Rodriguez, was in attendance today in Belfast, coming to support Burnett this week.
Marco McCullough KO-3 Declan Geraghty
On paper, this was the best-matched fight of the show, and although it ended quickly and suddenly, it lived up to what it was supposed to be. Dublin’s Geraghty (18-4, 4 KO) was able to outbox Belfast’s McCullough (22-4, 12 KO) for the first couple of rounds, which McCullough said after the fight he expected would be the case.
What he did not expect, however, was to land a perfectly timed right hand in the third round, which put Geraghty down and out. McCullough said after the fight that he’d never landed a shot like that before, and that he himself was hurting when he did.
“To be honest, I was hurting from a body shot. I just caught him perfect,” McCullough said. “I can’t afford a loss, so I needed that.”
Of winning in his hometown, McCullough said, “I couldn’t have lived with myself if I’d had a loss tonight. This was a great atmosphere, and it helped me.”
The win gives McCullough the IBF European title at 130 pounds, and considering IBF world titleholder Tevin Farmer has been fighting the likes of Jono Carroll, James Tennyson, and next Guillaume Frenois, why not Marco McCullough at some point, if he keeps winning?
Geraghty congratulated McCullough backstage after the fight:
REAL GENTLEMEN @Deco_Gero is fine, has spoken with great honesty in his interviews and has already been to congratulate the new champion @mccullough_marc.— MTK Global (@MTKGlobal) May 17, 2019
Two genuinely classy men ✅#MTKFightNight#TeamMTKGlobal pic.twitter.com/ttNJOvmKEK
Padraig McCrory PTS-6 Eric Nwankwo
McCrory (8-0, 3 KO) gets the win in the live float fight, outpointing Nwankwo (1-4, 1 KO) over six. McCrory has a lot of flaws, a lot of work to do, but he was the clear victor here, despite getting shaken at least twice by Nwankwo’s shots. Nwankwo stood in there, fought back, and gave rounds, which is what he was signed up to do, basically.
Sean McComb TKO-1 Miroslav Serban
I’d never seen McComb before, but commentary described him as “a character” on more than one occasion, and since this fight only lasted one minute and 24 seconds, that’s probably saying something. As a fighter, McComb is a big, tall (5’11½”) junior welterweight southpaw, and here he just whacked away at Serban (11-3, 6 KO) until the referee felt he had no choice but to step in, as the Czech fighter wasn’t fighting back.
“I think I hurt him early with a body shot and something else came over me and I just took over,” McComb said. “Great first round stoppage. A lot of people don’t think I can hit as hard as I can because I’m so tall and skinny, but my technique makes up for that.”
The 26-year-old McComb said he’s looking for “titles,” which doesn’t mean world titles. There are a million “titles” in boxing, he just wants one.
Steven Donnelly KO-4 Edwin Palacios
Donnelly (5-0, 1 KO) gets his first pro knockout, dropping Nicaragua’s Palacios (12-8-1, 8 KO) on a body shot and putting the visitor down for the count. Donnelly represented Ireland at the 2016 Olympics, getting to the welterweight quarterfinals. He’s well-schooled and skilled, but he’s also 30 years old, turning pro last August, so his ceiling isn’t exactly high in the pros. Still, he could very well become at least domestic player at 154, and there’s money and pride in that.