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Ryan Burnett targeting unification fights

Latest Ryan Burnett Zhanat Zhakiyanov


By Scott Gilfoid: A day after beating WBA Super World bantamweight champion Zhanat Zhakiyanov (27-2, 18 KOs) by a wide 12 round unanimous decision, IBF/WBA 118 lb. champion Ryan Burnett (18-0, 9 KOs) and his promoter Eddie Hearn are interested in fighting champions Jamie McDonnell and Zolani Tete in unification fights.

Hearn wants to bring Burnett, 25, back to Belfast to have him fight once again at The SSE Arena, which is where he beat the 33-year-old Zhakiyanov last Saturday night by the scores, 118-110, 116-112, and 119-109. The scores were a bit wide in the eyes of many boxing fans. They didn’t see Burnett winning by that margin. Indeed, many fans thought the fight should have been scored either a draw or a narrow win for Burnett. A close win for Burnett would have made sense, but the scores from the judges were extremely wide.


Having 2 judges scored the fight 10 rounds to 2 and 9 rounds to 3 was troubling, because it wasn’t that kind of a fight. It was largely 12 rounds of holding by Burnett. That was the game plan obviously that his trainer Adam Booth came up with. Hearn was very pleased with Booth’s game plan, as he felt it was a smart one. Hearn also feels that Burnett beat Zhakiyanov in the second half of the fight. Personally, I didn’t see Burnett beating Zhakiyanov up, but I did see Burnett increase the amount of clinching in the last 6 rounds. If that counts for beating up Zhakiyanov, then I think Burnett really beat him up.

Burnett’s clinching technique was textbook perfect. Unfortunately, Burnett’s fighting ability was subpar. He did very little fighting. Burnett was mostly holding. On average, Burnett was clinching over 10 times per round. In the later rounds, Burnett started clinching even more. I’m not sure how the boxing fans put up with it, as they came thinking it was going to be a fight. It didn’t turn out that way though.

“It was a grueling battle in the first 6 rounds of inside work,” said Hearn to IFL TV about Ryan Burnett’s victory last Saturday night against Zhakiyanov. “He performed so well with such a smart performance. Adam Booth’s tactics were absolutely bang on. In the second half of the fight, 4 or 5 rounds, he beat him up and it was a good win. He’s a unified champion of the world. He’s an exceptional talent,” said Hearn.

Burnett was awful against Zhakiyanov. I didn’t see anything in the fight from Burnett that was impressive other than his clinching. I’ve seen Burnett fight in the past many times, and I thought he looked great in fights against Lee Haskins, Joseafat Reyes, Ryan Farrag and Cesar Ramirez. Burnett fought those guys, He didn’t game the system by using excessive clinching to keep those guys from throwing punches like he did with Zhakiyanov.

It’s too bad Burnett’s trainer Adam Booth didn’t have enough faith in him to have him fight Zhakiyanov instead of clinching him all night. When a trainer comes up with a game plan like that for their fighter, it suggests they don’t believe they can do the job without clinching nonstop. It’s Burnett’s career. If he wants to have Booth turn him into a spoiler, then that’s on him. I don’t think it’s a good look for Burnett. If he wants to gain fans and become a popular guy, he’s not going to do it by using a massive amount of holding in his fights to keep his opponents from being able to throw punches.

”He said his ear was hurting him,” said Hearn. ”He’s got two options next year. You’ve got Tete, who is a very good fighter and that’s a tough fight. You’ve got Yamanaka, who obviously got beat. You’ve got the possibility of moving up to super bantamweight. Adam Booth got the tactics [constant clinching] spot on. He started to punish him in the second half. I had him winning by 5 to 6 rounds. I thought it was a good win,” said Hearn.

It would be good to see Burnett fight Luis Nery if he were still the WBC bantamweight champion, but unfortunately, he tested positive for a banned drug recently and he’s been stripped of his title. It would look weak right now for Burnett to target Shinsuke Yamanaka for the WBC 118lb. title, given his knockout loss to Nery. Yeah, Nery tested positive after that fight, but it didn’t look good the way that Yamanaka was so easily handled by the young Mexican fighter. Nery looks like a real star. I’d like to see Burnett fight Nery, as long as he didn’t maul him the way he did Zhakiyanov. I don’t think Burnett would try and fight Nery. Now that Burnett found out he can win by clinching repeatedly in every round, I suspect that’s going to be the tactic that he uses every time he fights someone with talent and power. It would be a good fight to see between Burnett and Nery, as long as there wasn’t excessive clinching being used by the Irish fighter.

“A lot of praise has to go to Adam Booth whose game plan was outstanding,” said Hearn to skysports.com in continuing to talk about Booth’s game plan of having Burnett clinch a lot. “Jamie McDonnell is fighting Liborio Solis in Monaco in a few weeks; you’ve got Paul Butler watching this at home and also Zolani Tete who is a great champion. The WBC is also vacant at the minute and Ryan wants to pick them all up,” said Hearn.

Hearn will almost surely match Burnett against McDonnell if he beats Solis in their rematch coming up. Zolani Tete is probably too dangerous for Burnett to fight, even with him using mauling and wrestling tactics for 12 rounds. Tete is someone that would take Burnett apart no matter what spoiling tactic he uses in the fight. I’d like to see Burnett go out on his shield against Tete by showing some courage and fighting him rather than trying to clinch him all night, but I don’t think he will. Tete has a mean uppercut he likes to throw on the inside, and he also throws hard shots when being held by his opponents. Burnett would have to really work on his wrestling skills to keep from getting blasted out by Tete if he decided to clinch him all night long.

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