By Tom Gray
IBF bantamweight titleholder Ryan Burnett will face WBA counterpart Zhanat Zhakiyanov in a historic unification bout at the SSE Arena in Belfast on October 21.
Burnett, who is rated No. 5 by THE RING at 118 pounds, scored a 12-round unanimous decision over Lee Haskins in June and now goes straight into what will be the first unification fight to be staged in Northern Ireland.
“I’m very excited,” said Burnett. “This is the path I’ve always believed in and asked for – to be not just a world champion but a great world champion and this is exactly the fight that propels me into that position. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’ve done a lot of work with (Zhakiyanov) in sparring but back then I was a kid and hardly had any fights and he was fighting for the European title. 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. It’s good to have that bit of knowledge. I know a few things about him. That can only work in my favour.”
The 30-year-old Zhakiyanov, who is rated No. 3 by THE RING, comes in fresh off a 12-round split decision victory over Rau’shee Warren to win the WBA belt.
“I’ve won against all titleholders that my management team put in front of me,” said Zhakiyanov. “In Sheffield against Karim Guerfi, in Vraza against Hector Guzman, in Monaco against Yonfrez Parejo and in Ohio against Warren. Ryan Burnett will not be different from what I’ve always achieved.”
Burnett is (17-0, 9 knockouts) while Zhakiyanov is (27-1, 18 KOs).
Information courtesy of a press release issued by Matchroom Boxing
Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for RingTV.com and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing
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Source:: The Ring – Boxing