By John J. Raspanti
It might not have been the way he wanted to win, but Nonito Donaire (39-5, 24 KOs) is a world champion again. Donaire, a decided underdog, was declared the winner when defending champion and tournament favorite Ryan Burnett (19-1, 9 KOs) sustained what looked to be a back injury in round four at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland, Saturday night. The victory goes into the books as a fifth-round stoppage.
The injury happened 52 seconds into round four. Burnett fired a right hand, grabbed at his back, and went to one knee. He beat the count, but his pain was obvious. Burnett tried to stay away, but Donaire trapped him in the corner and fired away. A heavy right hand landed. Burnett survived to hear the bell, but seconds after sitting down, his corner said the fight was over.
Until the shocking end, the fight had been competitive, with Burnett appearing to have a slight edge. He connected with numerous rights-while his jab knocked Donaire’s head back. Donaire, as always, the heavier puncher, stalked and popped. A few rights and left hooks connected, but Burnett was quicker and crisper. Donaire, who was born in the Philippines and fights out of Las Vegas, Nevada, did better in round three. He pushed Burnett into the ropes and let his hands go. Belfast’s Burnett ducked most of the blows, but a few thudded home.
Donaire, who was fighting as a bantamweight for the first time in seven years, will next meet WBO champion Zolani Tete in the semifinals of the World Boxing Super Series.
"The guy was fast, I was fighting like a bigger guy," said the classy Donaire. "I started to use my speed. Burnett is an amazing fighter."
The crestfallen Burnett was removed from the ring on a stretcher.
Josh Taylor impressively dominated Ryan Martin--winning the fight by stoppage in round seven at the SSE Hydro in the same ring in Glasgow, Scotland.
The end seemed inevitable, as Taylor (14-0, 12 KOs) had his way with Martin from the opening bell. He worked the body and head-with little resistance.
Taylor, a southpaw, got off first in every round. His jab set the table, while his shots to the body and head fed his rhythm. Martin followed after him, but didn’t do much. He looked puzzled and tight, like perhaps the enormity of the event was getting the best of him. Taylor had no such problem.
He was comfortable and supremely confident. His bodywork was impressive. In round four a beauty of uppercut snapped Martin’s head back. Trainer Abel Sanchez kept extoling Martin before every round to get off, and Martin did slightly better in round five. But whenever he would land, Taylor, born and bred in Scotland, would fire back with sharp combinations to the head, and then, like a kid playing a game, skip away.
Martin went back to his corner after round six shaking his head. His right eye was swelling rapidly and his left was bleeding.
In the fatal seventh round, Taylor, tattooed Martin, from Cleveland, Ohio, with shots. Martin fought back a little, but a left to the back of the head sent him to the canvas. The blow was clearly illegal. Martin complained to no avail.
Referee Victor Loughlin probably figured that Martin had little chance of mounting a comeback--so he waved the fight off. A quick hook for sure.
The time was 2:21 seconds of round seven.
“I told you nobody’s beating me in this room," the elated Taylor told the cheering crowd. "I’m coming into my prime years now. I’m bringing them titles back here.”
Taylor will next face tough Ivan Baranchyk in the World Boxing Super Series semi-final. That one should be a barnburner.