Burnett and Zhakiyanov set to unify
By Ciaran O’Malley: Earlier today Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sports announced that recently crowned IBF bantamweight World champion Ryan Burnett will be facing off against WBA “Super” champ Zhanat Zhakiyanov, in a unification match-up in Belfast on the 21st of October.
Burnett (17-0) won his belt in an outstanding performance and comprehensive victory over Lee Haskins just a little under two months ago. Although a split decision was called due to some horrendous judging by Carl Sammartino, who got the pair of fighters mixed up on the night and gave Haskins a 118-108 victory, Sammartino has since been banned from judging in the UK.
On the night Haskins struggled to land a glove on the 25 year old Northern Irish man, whose swift hands and nimble footwork were too much for the former World champ, with the only notable damage to Burnett coming from head clashes between the pair. Burnett really shined on the night and showed the World that what a supreme talent he is.
But Zhanat Zhakiyanov (27-1) is going to be a tough fight for Burnett and the WBA champ is no stranger from entering the lion’s den as the underdog. Last January he traveled to Ohio to take on local fighter Rau’shee Warren where he was counted out by many journalists and so-called experts before the fight but went on to claim victory and the belt in a split decision.
The 33 year old Kazakh is trained by former two-weight World champion Ricky Hatton in his Manchester gym where Burnett himself spent time training as a young novice when first entering the pro ranks, before parting ways and joining up with Adam Booth. During this time the pair were training and sparring partners for one another and have done countless rounds in the ring together.
Both men are confident that they have the upper hand entering the contest with Burnett claiming he has changed his game enormously since them sparring sessions saying “I know what it’s like to share a ring with him but he doesn’t know what it’s like to share a ring with the current Ryan Burnett. A lot has changed since we last sparred for me but not with him”
Zhakiyanov also believes that Burnett will be unchanged and so gives himself the advantage leading into the bout claiming “Ryan Burnett will not be different from what I’ve always achieved.”
It is going to be an exciting and interesting matchup, where Burnett will be favoured to come out on top and unify the belts. He will be too slick and is technical the better boxer, Zhakiyanov will have to turn it into a real “dog-fight” to have a good chance in this one.