Burnett and Donaire will be joined by WBO world champion Zolani Tete, IBF titlist Emmanuel Rodriguez and WBA ‘regular’ holder Naoya Inoue, along with Jason Moloney, Juan Carlos Payano, Mikhail Aloyan in the second season of the tournament.
Burnett was the number one ranked seed, and chose to face the former four-weight world champion Donaire. He and trainer Adam Booth see the early challenge as a positive.
“I think the better the fighter I pick, the better I become,” Burnett told Boxing News. “Obviously I had the first pick so I could have picked any of the boys there, I was the first seed.
“Nonito Donaire is an incredible fighter and I know that Nonito will bring the best out of me and that’s what I need. So after having a good chat with Adam it made sense to pick Nonito.”
Donaire competed for the first time in the UK in his last fight, a decision loss to Burnett’s countryman Carl Frampton in April, up at featherweight.
As Donaire drops down two weights to enter the WBSS, Burnett stated he believes the Filipino will be more suited to the 118 lbs division, and revealed he hasn’t talked tactics with Frampton.
Burnett said, “I thought that it was a good fight between him and Carl, obviously Carl won it and won it well but now Nonito’s dropping down to bantamweight, he hasn’t been a bantamweight in seven years and I’m looking forward to him coming down, I think that’s his natural weight.
“He’ll get back to him feeling his best, but between me and Nonito I see myself just being the classier boxer and winning every round.
“I haven’t talked to Carl or anything, I’ve just spoken to Adam and we’ve gone through the game plan for what will work, what I need to watch and what I’m good at.”
Before the 35 year-old Filipino made the trip to Northern Ireland to face Frampton, “The Jackal” warned everyone he would not take the challenge of Donaire lightly.
And if Burnett hasn’t consulted Frampton over the experience of fighting Donaire, the current WBA world champion certainly shares the same pre-fight ethos in preparation.
“Nonito is a former pound for pound fighter, he’s one of the best in the world,” Burnett said.
“He’s won four world titles in four weight divisions, you have to be an incredible fighter to be able to do that.
“There’s no way I can look over this guy and like I’ve said Nonito is an incredible boxer and it’s going to take my best, which I will bring, to beat him.
“I’m not looking at the Nonito that’s 35, I’m looking at the best Donaire and that’s the fighter I’m focusing on.”
With four current world title holders in the tournament, it’s hard to pick a clear favourite, however, Burnett predicted it will be Jamie McDonnell conqueror Inoue meeting him in the final next year.
“It’s going to be me and Inoue in the final, but they all have to watch me, put it that way,” Burnett claimed.
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