Ryan Burnett trusts his trainer and mentor Adam Booth has the right plan that will see him crowned Northern Ireland’s latest world bantamweight champion on Saturday, when he challenges Lee Haskins in Belfast.
Burnett (16-0, 9 KOs), 25, has progressed well under Booth’s stewardship, capturing the British title last year.
Burnett is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Northern Ireland’s former world bantamweight kings Johnny Caldwell (1961-62) and Wayne McCullough (1995-1997), as well as Carl Frampton who won the IBF super-bantamweight belt in September 2014 not far from where Burnett has his first shot at global glory.
Burnett has faith that Booth’s tactics will see him end Haskins’ reign in a third defence.
“Adam believes I am ready for it and he’s a man who has been there and done it,” said Burnett.
“Adam knows how to put a game plan together to beat a southpaw, and I have every faith in Adam. If I am calm, relaxed and I deliver what Adam tells me to do on the night, I’ll win that belt.
“I’m always learning with every fight and every day in the gym with Adam. People were saying a year ago that I was ready for a world title shot so that must mean I am even better placed for it now. Adam makes the decisions of what the right move is for me.
“Adam has given me intelligence on what I actually have to do. All the skills are there, but he’s teaching me how to control it. That’s what we work on every day – understanding what you have to do and how you have to do it.
“He’s been in the sport for a long time and he’s a well-respected coach. I’ve come to the gym willing to listen and learn because I know that Adam has so much knowledge to give, so if Adam says jump, I say how high.”
Burnett is a big admirer of his fellow Belfast boxer Frampton, who unified the world super-bantamweight titles before then becoming a two-weight world champion later in 2016.
But Frampton (23-1, 14 KOs), 30, is currently without a world title after losing his WBA world featherweight belt to Leo Santa Cruz in January and returns to action in Belfast on July 29.
Even if Burnett wins on Saturday, he has a long way to go before coming close to Frampton’s popularity in Northern Ireland where he is one of the country’s most famous sports stars along with the likes of golfer Rory McIlroy.
“People keep saying that I am the second coming of Carl Frampton — that’s a big statement,” said Burnett.
“I do believe that I can emulate his success and be a big hit in Belfast. I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from Carl and seeing a Belfast lad become a world champion. “He’s taken the steps that I am taking now and seeing the level that he’s got to and what he’s achieved and what he can still achieve is massive. He’s done so much for boxing in Belfast and I want to have the same impact.”
Haskins (34-3, 14 KOs), 33, from Bristol, opted to take a ferry over the Irish Sea rather than a short flight due to a fear of flying ahead of a third defence. “I’m not the greatest on planes so we chose to get the ferry over,” said Haskins.
The Englishman insists he will not be intimidated by Burnett’s home support and has the confidence of just one defeat in nearly ten years with wins over the likes of WBA title-holder Jamie McDonnell, Mexican Ivan Morales and Stuart Hall.
Despite his experience, Haskins says it is a 50-50 contest.
“It’s going to be a hostile crowd but truthfully it doesn’t bother me,” said Haskins.
“I’ve got a great opponent in front of me: this is a 50-50 fight. Before I even knew I was fighting him I thought, ‘He’s a fantastic fighter and one to watch in the future’.”