By: Ste Rowen
In a very strange turn of events in Glasgow’s SSE Hydro Arena, tonight’s favourite, Josh Taylor progressed to the semi-finals of the World Boxing Super Series whilst, bantamweight #1 seed Ryan Burnett fell foul of what appeared to be a back injury, forcing him out of his quarter-final with Nonito Donaire mid-fight and ultimately, out of the WBSS as a whole.
Tonight’s results mean Josh Taylor, now 14-0 (12KOS), continues on to face IBF world champion, Ivan Baranchyk in the semi-finals, whilst surprisingly, veteran Nonito Donaire progresses on to next face, Zolani Tete for both, a place in the Super Series final, and to unify the WBO and WBA bantamweight divisions.
The lights, the crowd, the action? Yes.
The noise was deafening as the first bell rang. Taylor sprung first, and every attack made the crowd jack-a-box out of their seats, even if it was just a cleanly landed jab. With Taylor though so far, there feels an inevitability.
Not in the – no matter what he does, he’ll get the cards in his favour – more the belief that, if he looks like he’s struggling, he’ll find his way out.
When people doubted him against Ohara Davies, he evaded Davies’ obvious hooks and punished him on the counter; when he switch-hit tonight, and swept to orthodox, Taylor dominated yet again. Into round 5, even the Abel Sanchez trained, Ryan Martin was no match for the ‘Tartan Tornado’.
There’s no other way to call the sixth, Taylor schooled the American all around the ring, it was left to the seventh to see if he could finish him off. Despite Martin looking bright early on, the ‘Tartan Tornado’ landed a perfect left hook that dropped Martin. Curiously, the American held the right side of his head as he went down. ‘Blue Chip’ clearly wanted no more of the Scot.
The referee waved off the bout as Martin remained indecisive over whether he wanted to carry on or not. The result means Josh Taylor moves on into the semi-finals to face IBF champion, Ivan ‘The Beast’ Baranchyk’. Taylor scored the decisive 7th round stoppage and post-fight he made no mistake in saying how easy he felt it was,
‘‘I knew I was gonna win the fight. I was expecting a hard 12 rounds…credit to Ryan Martin for putting up a good fight but, in all honesty, I never got out of second gear. I was relaxed, I was flowing, and the fight was easy for me.’’
‘‘I thought it would be a little bit tougher…I proved I’m ready for this next fight against Baranchyk. I’ll do the same again.’’
And thinking ahead to his semi-final against Baranchyk,
‘‘I think it’s gonna be an electric fight…He looks very strong, very explosive but, again I’m not gonna let him get close to me so he can lay off those big shots…Like tonight, he couldn’t get a shot off against me; my timing, my speed, my distance control. Everything was just so on song’’
‘‘Nobody in this division is gonna beat me.’’
Ryan Burnett vs. Nonito Donaire
The fourth and final Super Series bantamweight quarter-final was upon as WBA ‘Super’ champion Ryan Burnett matched up with Nonito ‘Filipino Flash’ Donaire for a place in the semi-finals to face WBO titlist, Zolani Tete.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
A legend, Donaire, was in the ring, and perhaps a future one entered there with him. Burnett was clearly a crowd favourite, even if the Hydro crowd sounded off their appreciation of the status the ‘Filipino Flash’ held.
The Irishman in white and black shorts forced himself onto the front-foot early doors, but neither fighter was able to establish himself early in the bout. Bearded Burnett, now 19-1 (9KOs), was willing to go toe-to-toe with the famously left-hook-happy Donaire. Clearly, the difficulties his fellow Belfast man, Carl Frampton had to come through didn’t faze Ryan. He was his own man, and without saying it aloud, he clearly disliked being labelled weak-fisted.
As round 3 ended, the Belfast man had both put his mark on his opponent and taken a fair few powerful shots himself.
Towards the end of the 4th, Ryan threw a right hand, took a knee and appeared to hold the right side of his back. He survived the round, but it signalled the end of the fight. Burnett had sustained a back injury, that meant the future hall of famer that is Nonito Donaire, now 39-5 (25KO), would progress to the semi-final stage to face Zolani Tete. A scary thought.
A perhaps much scarier thought is that Ryan Burnett, who has been plagued with a variety of issues throughout his career, will now struggle to return from what appears to be a back issue.
Either way, post-fight, Donaire made a point of acknowledging his opponent,
‘‘Ryan was a tough guy, but we felt very comfortable coming in there. Just see the adjustments that I was coming in and I think that it showed what I’m capable of in this weight class.’’
‘‘I’m grateful that I was able to test the weight…Now I’m a lot lighter, you’ll see the Filipino Flash more often.’’
‘‘It didn’t come out the way we wanted it to, but a victory is a victory and we’re so grateful for this opportunity.’’
On the undercard…
Zach Parker vs. Darryll Williams
Zach Parker, somewhat controversially, became the new super-middleweight Lonsdale belt champion with a split decision over fan favourite, Darryll Williams.
Williams was slick in his movement early doors and opted to smother Parker out of any chance he had of making a mark. Zach was audibly the crowd favourite. By round 3, the fight was well & truly on. Both fighters had tagged each other early & anticipation was high heading into the middle rounds.
Both Brits by now were looking for an in. Williams had put his mark on Parker again in the 4th but the southpaw in Parker regained composure as the fight headed into round 6.
The fight, though entertaining through to the 10th, was missing something. As if both boxers had another level to end the bout but weren’t willing to give away their party piece.
It was as ugly as it was entertaining & in the final round Parker, the favourite, evaded attack as if he knew he had the victory already.
The opening bout for viewers may have lacked a KO but it never lacked sustained action.
The scorecards after 12 rounds came back as, 117-112 Parker, 115-113 Williams, 115-114 Parker, crowning Zach Parker as the NEW British super-middleweight champion. The Glasgow crowd disagreed.
Paul Butler vs, Yoan Boyeaux
To the uninitiated, Yoan Boyeaux has an impressive record of 41-5, but delve deeper and you’ll see that the Frenchman’s only accomplished opponent until tonight is WBSS bantamweight favourite, Naoya Inoue; an opponent he was stopped by in 3 rounds.
So, it was down to the former IBF ‘Baby-Face’ champion to get rid of his opponent early. However, that wasn’t to be. The Liverpudlian, in the early rounds was economical with his punches but when he fired, he made it count and made an impression. Boyeaux had his moments, but perhaps that’s being generous. Butler, in white & glittering gold shorts fought his way to a 99-91 victory.
Viktor Postol vs. Siar Ozgul
WBSS injury-reserve for the super-lightweights, Victor Postol stalked and dominated his Turkish opponent all night and after the scheduled 10 rounds was up it seemed Viktor had, had a little too much fun. He was on early and the Glasgow crowd wanted a knockout, but Postol, like in his bout with tonight’s main event fighter, Josh Taylor, did not comply and the fight went the distance. The judge’s scorecard returned as 99-91 for the Ukrainian.