Promoter Eddie Hearn explained that Ryan Burnett’s post-fight hospital visit was purely a precautionary measure after the new unified bantamweight champion of the world complained of headaches following his historic victory over Zhanat Zhakiyanov in Belfast.
Burnett made history at the SSE Odyssey Arena on Saturday night as the 25-year-old defeated bullish Kazakh Zhakiyanov to claim the WBA world title, adding that strap to the IBF belt he won last June, in what was the first unification fight to ever take place in Ireland.
The Belfast native recorded a unanimous-decision victory, although Burnett’s celebrations were briefly delayed as trainer Adam Booth was keen to see his fighter undergo a medical assessment when he complained of head and neck pains immediately after the bout.
Matchroom promoter Hearn revealed that the fighter was taken to hospital soon afterwards for an examination.
"He didn’t feel great in the ring and we cut the interviews short at ringside and we got him back [to the dressing-room]," said Hearn. "He was complaining about some pain, particularly around his ear so he got stretchered out. He was conscious, but Adam was concerned."
It is understood that Burnett received the all-clear from medical personnel, while it is believed that he suffered a neck-ligament injury during the fight, which led to his discomfort following the win.
The former Olympic Youth gold medallist’s victory means he is only the second Irish fighter after fellow Belfast native Carl Frampton to unify world titles in one weight class – with Burnett now holding two of the four ‘major’ 118lb belts – and Hearn was keen to praise the achievement.
"Burnett was always in control," said the promoter. "It was a convincing performance and a performance well beyond his years.
"At 25 years old, to do that that easily against another world champion is very impressive," added Hearn, who claimed that the Belfast fighter now has a number of options ahead of his ring return.
Burnett’s injury is likely to rule him out of action until next spring after a Christmas break, while it remains to be seen if the 25-year-old will remain in the bantamweight division or move up four pounds in an effort to become a two-weight champion at super-bantam.
Puerto Rican Emmanuel Rodriguez is the mandatory challenger for Burnett’s IBF belt, although fights against England’s WBA regular champion Jamie McDonnell, Paul Butler or WBO champion Zolani Tete are also options in addition to the possibility of moving up in weight.
"He’s not yet at a stage where he can’t make the [118lb] weight, but he could quite easily go to super-bantamweight and try and become a two-weight world champion," said Hearn. "What I’ve found about Ryan is he doesn’t want easy options, he wants to test himself, but he is young.
"It’s his 18th fight, he’s the unified world champion so where do you go from here?"
The promoter suggested that Belfast is the most likely location for Burnett’s ring return next spring as Hearn attempts to build the fighter’s profile to match his achievements, although a US fight date is also an option after HBO broadcast delayed coverage of Saturday night's bout Stateside.
"We’d like him to go to America, but I don’t know. Obviously at the moment it’s just a case of making sure he’s okay," said Hearn.
"Planning the future, it’s hard. I don’t really want to lose the momentum here [in Belfast]," added the promoter, who once again suggested that Burnett and Katie Taylor could share a future fight bill with New York a possible location for the hypothetical double-header.
Meanwhile, Hearn claimed he is keen to see a rematch between Belfast’s Paul Hyland Jr and veteran Dubliner Stephen Ormond after a contentious points call in their lightweight bout on the Burnett undercard
Hyland was awarded a split-decision win but Ormond’s corner and many spectators were upset with the decision, particularly after judge Valerie Dorsett handed in a lopsided 117-110 card in favour of the victor.
"I thought it was a brilliant fight," said Hearn. "I would like to make sure that Ormond gets another opportunity because he was fighting for his career and even if he didn’t deserve to get the win, he deserves to still be in big fights because he was very exciting and he gave it everything.
"I had Ormond just winning the fight… I’d love to do it again."