Sheffield United: Oli McBurnie on boxer Sunny Edwards' connection to Bramall Lane

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Boxers Sunny Edwards and Jack Bateson, who fight at the Utilita Arena tomorrow, have both made a big impression on Oli McBurnie; equipping him with the steel and focus which sees him enter Saturday’s game against Cardiff City as the Championship’s joint-leading goalscorer despite being diagnosed with a hernia at the beginning of last month.

But after outlining plans to watch them in action on television at Sheffield United’s team hotel in the Welsh capital, the 26-year-old centre-forward revealed he has helped establish a connection between Edwards, the IBF flyweight title holder, and Bramall Lane too. Even if, speaking as Paul Heckingbottom’s side prepare for their final match before the World Cup break, he is too humble to say so.

“Sunny’s from London,” McBurnie told The Star. “But his kid is a Sheffield United fan. They like their football and when he takes his lad to games, he puts his Blades top on. I’m not too sure who Sunny follows. In Sheffield, he’s definitely more red than blue (Sheffield Wednesday).”

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McBurnie has spoken in the past about his fascination with the noble art; detailing how the demands it places on those who dedicate themselves to it have shaped his approach on the pitch. Speaking ahead of the meeting with Mark Hudson’s side, which takes place less than 24 hours after Edwards faces Felix Alvarado and Bateson meets Shabaz Mahmoud in the chief support, the former Swansea City marksman admitted he is now embracing things he used to purposefully eschew such as ice baths and gym sessions.

“For me, the thing I respect about boxers is the dedication,” McBurnie continued. “It’s such a long camp, eight weeks or whatever, for one big moment. In football, we play twice a week and have 10 others around us who can bail us out."

Oliver McBurnie of Sheffield United in action: Andrew Yates / SportimageOliver McBurnie of Sheffield United in action: Andrew Yates / Sportimage
Oliver McBurnie of Sheffield United in action: Andrew Yates / Sportimage

A host of other boxers based in the Steel City, including another of McBurnie’s friends Levi Kinsiona, also feature on the bill.

“I saw Sunny and Jack, who I now from Burmantofts boxing club in Leeds where I used to go with my brother, at the hotel the other day,” McBurnie said. “I know a few of the boys on the card. We keep in touch and I know Sunny through mutual friends.”