Former World Champion Ricky Hatton knew he had found something special when he met Ryan Burnett for the first time.
Belfast boy Burnett - a junior Olympic gold medal winner - came to see ‘The Hitman’ just before be turned professional and Hatton knew from the start that Burnett was a talented boy.
“He came to the gym to see me with his father because he was thinking of turning pro.
“He had this little baby face and at first glance he looked really young looking so I put the pads on and the first time he hit me on the pads he caught me by surprise.
“After that first shot I got very excited all of a sudden. They say looks can be deceiving and it certainly is in the case of Ryan.
“He’s a truly wonderful talent and a very nice kid to train.
“I don’t want to put too much pressure on his shoulders but I’ve told him often enough if he works hard and dedicates himself he can go as far as he wants.
“ And he can be the next Irish superstar like his hero Carl Frampton,” he added.
And Hatton says Burnett has taken to the professional game like a duck to water.
“Ryan’s like a real seasoned pro after only two professional fights.
“I was worried about having to take my time with him and maybe putting the breaks on.
“But having been there myself I know the right pace I want to take him through.
“At the end of the day if you’re good enough you’re old enough,” added Hatton.
Burnett will face Reynaldo Cajina at the Odyssey tomorrow night and he says he can’t wait to get started at the Belfast venue.
“It’s always good to be fighting in front of your home crowd but now I’m fighting on a big stage at the Odyssey in front of a big crowd, plus it’s going to be live on television
“ Sure there will be pressure but I won’t suffer from any nerves. It’s something I’m relishing and really looking forward to.
“I want to take it fight-by-fight and let Ricky and his team handle everything going forward. I know I’m in good hands and felt this from the start.
“When I wanted to turn pro I went Rick and really liked him, we instantly had this great connection.
“It’s great working with Ricky. Initially I was a bit star struck but eventually over time he just became a mate. We get on really well and get a lot of good work done.
“I am looking forward to fighting at the Odyssey and showing the fans what I am capable of,” he added.
And Burnett admits he is a huge admirer of Carl Frampton.
“I have trained and sparred with him and he is the guy I look up to. He is doing really well and I want to follow him up the ladder.”
Frampton vs. Parodi is live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch.437/Virgin Ch.546) from 7pm this Saturday 19th October. Subscribe online at http://www.boxnation.com/.