Adversity is defined as “A noun used to define a difficult or unpleasant situation.”Something that we are all currently experiencing on a daily basis.
Something that former world bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett has encountered more than most. Lockdown, because of coronavirus crisis, is just the latest in a long list.
The Belfastman was forced to retire at 27 after a rollercoaster career of highs and lows.
In a sport where insults and trash-talk can be rewarded with big fights, Burnett never engaged with the verbal theatrics, focusing instead on his own performance. Quiet and reserved outside the ring, slick and supremely confident under the bright lights.
Fighting on Joshua-Parker bill
In Easter week two years ago, Burnett was an unbeaten, unified world champion, fighting in front of a global television audience as 80,000 fans packed into the Principality Stadium as part of the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s contest with Joseph Parker.
Twenty four months on, his boxing days are over, having started up his own personal training business.
He has spent the last fortnight “studying and trying to use the time wisely”. A chance to reflect…
“I miss boxing, every now and again when I am watching fights on TV and when I see my friends training and fighting, it pulls on your heart strings,” says the 27-year-old.
“It is something I have started to come to terms with now. I love the sport, it has been my life.
“I am very grateful, but it has only been recently, that I have sat back and thought to myself: ‘wow, I did that’.
“I never paused to look back before, it was too fast paced to think like that. Now that I have had the chance, it makes me happy, it makes me proud.”
Failed brain scan
His story was never smooth. Every step along the way, there were setbacks. A gold medal in the Olympic Youth games in 2010, was followed by a back injury that kept him out of the ring for 12 months the following year.
He signed a professional deal with trainer Ricky Hatton on his return, but then failed a routine brain scan, which left his career in the balance.
Told that he would never fight again by his neurologist, Burnett and his family managed to prove after a year that he was medically fit to box again.
Four fights into his pro career and things stalled again. Having parted ways with trainer Hatton, Burnett was left homeless, sleeping in a jeep leant to him by Hatton for six weeks.
Burnett needed a break, and it came in the form of trainer Adam Booth. The corner man for the likes of David Haye and Andy Lee, Booth decided to take Burnett on and the pair developed a close bond.
Burnett was obsessive when in the gym and his hard work was starting to reap rewards. The wins and belts followed. It was his time to shine.
Burnett wins world title despite judge blunder
Lee Haskins stood between Ryan Burnett and a world title. In front of a home crowd in Belfast, the script was written to announce his arrival on the global stage, except for Ryan Burnett, nothing comes easy.
In the second round, a deep cut suffered by Ryan Burnett from an accidental clash of heads, could have voided the bout, but the referee allowed it to continue.
Ryan Burnett flooring his opponent twice over the 12 rounds. A dominant win, or so we thought until the MC declared a split decision.
There was a stunned silence around the SSE Arena. One judge got the two fighters mixed up and awarded Haskins the win.
Thankfully, the other two officials correct scorecards insured that the Antrim Road fighters arm was finally raised. Drama, he could have done without.
Four months later, he unified the division, defeating the Ricky Hatton-trained Zhanat Zhakiyanov.
Next up was Cardiff as one of the chief support fights to Joshua on the worldwide pay per view event, another platform for the Belfast boxer to further enhance his growing reputation. He bamboozled his Venezuelan opponent Yonfrez Parejo, flawless on two of the three judges’ cards.
Post-fight, he revealed that he had fought the majority of the contest with a broken hand. It would mean another trip to hospital, another hurdle to overcome. No complaints from Burnett – that wasn’t his style.