Ryan Burnett to battle Zhanat Zhakiyanov in world title unification clash on October 21
IBF bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett will fight WBA titleholder Zhanat Zhakiyanov on October 21 at the SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Burnett claimed the IBF belt in June with a one-sided points win over Lee Haskins, which was incorrectly scored as a split decision after one judge mixed up the two fighters before the verdict was later corrected to unanimous. Now the Belfast man will battle Kazakh boxer Zhakiyanov in a bantamweight world title unification clash.
"I'm very, 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 him 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 Belfast fans have really took a shine to me especially since my last fight, everything has taken off and I'm just looking forward to getting back to the SSE Arena with a packed house behind me."
Zhakiyanov, who is trained by former world champion Ricky Hatton, got off the floor twice in the first round against Rau'shee Warren to win the world title on points last February.
"I've won against all titleholders that my management team put in front of me," said Zhakiyanov. "In Switzerland in 2011, 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."