by Keith Idec
Ryan Burnett will defend his WBA “super” bantamweight championship against Yonfrez Parejo on the Anthony Joshua-Joseph Parker undercard March 31 at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
Northern Ireland’s Burnett initially thought he would make a mandatory defense of the IBF bantamweight title against Emmanuel Rodriguez in his next fight. The IBF ordered a bout between Rodriguez and Lee Haskins for its interim bantamweight championship, but later scheduled a purse bid for Burnett-Rodriguez and Burnett decided to vacate his IBF title.
Belfast’s Burnett (18-0, 9 KOs) took the IBF 118-pound championship from England’s Haskins (35-4, 14 KOs) by winning a unanimous decision in their 12-round bout June 17 in Belfast. Venezuela’s Parejo (21-2-1, 10 KOs) is the mandatory challenger for Burnett’s WBA title.
Eddie Hearn – whose company, Matchroom Boxing, promotes Burnett – announced the Burnett-Parejo fight Monday.
“The IBF called an interim title bout between Emmanuel Rodriguez and Lee Haskins, so we proceeded to make the fight with our WBA mandatory, Parejo,” Hearn told Sky Sports on Monday. “Last week we were notified that the [Rodriguez-Haskins] bout would no longer take place and that Rodriguez’s team [was] not willing to negotiate, and they called immediate purse bids. Our deal was already in place with Parejo, so we will vacate our IBF title and continue to face our WBA mandatory.”
The purse bid for Burnett’s mandated match against Puerto Rico’s Rodriguez (17-0, 12 KOs) was scheduled for Monday at the IBF’s headquarters in Springfield, New Jersey.
The 25-year-old Burnett figured he wouldn’t be able to keep two bantamweight championships for long. He opted to retain the WBA “super” championship he won from Kazakhstan’s Zhanat Zhakiyanov (27-2, 18 KOs), whom Burnett beat by 12-round unanimous decision October 21 in Belfast.
Parejo lost a 12-round split decision to Zhakiyanov in a fight for the WBA’s interim bantamweight title in November 2015.
“I don’t really get involved in the politics,” Burnett said. “But we knew that when we faced Zhakiyanov that it was likely we may vacate one of the belts because of mandatory challengers. I’ve unified the division and now we move on to new challenges. I expect a tough fight against Parejo. Our styles should jell for a great fight and I’m looking forward to making another statement on March 31.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.