On a huge Saturday night of boxing, Ryan Burnett defeated Zhanat Zhakiyanov at the SSE Arena, Belfast, to become the Unified Bantamweight champion.
The 25 year old endured a hard fought bout with the Kazakh boxer but showed his resilience to become the WBA and IBF World Bantamweight champion.
Zhakiyanov, as expected, began aggressively and cornered Burnett into the corner but the Northern Irishman was able to come away and land his own uppercut and right hand in the first.
The following rounds saw Zhakiyanov up close to Burnett, attempting close range shots to the inside whilst Burnett was able to land more clean and accurate shots to the Kazakh boxer. Zhakiyanov was clearly making life tough for Burnett, as the Northern Irishman began a touch slow, but in the fourth round, Burnett started to find his rhythm, sending the Kazakh boxer backwards.
The sixth saw Zhakiyanov land a big uppercut to the Northern Irishman but Burnett kept on going, as both boxers traded blows to one another. Both boxers put on a show with their pace and intensity throughout the fight and it looked to be all even, though Burnett had looked to have edged it with his cleaner punches on the scorecard.
Into the eight round, Burnett took the upper hand as he came out landing some strong hooks to Zhakiyanov, which gave him the edge into the final rounds. Both boxers went at it toe to toe, with Burnett reacting with his jab and using his technicality whilst Zhakiyanov continued with his aggression.
In the end, Burnett was victorious as the judges called the fight in his favour at 119-109, 118-110 and 116-112.
Speaking after the fight, Burnett said, “This was a tough fight for me, I had to dig deep and I done it. The plan was to try and box him, but he’s that strong, I had to adapt to his game. I boxed Haskins, he’s one of the trickiest in the division and now I’ve beaten one of the toughest.”
On the undercard, Anthony Fowler was taken the distance by Laszlo Fazekas and scored a points victory over the Hungarian. Fowler had to fight with a head clash to the forehead, leaving him bloodied from the first round but the Liverpudlian was strong and kept at his jab to Fazekas. The second round saw Fazekas land some shots but Fowler showed his quality and kept his momentum from the first.
Fazekas showed his toughness as Fowler landed combinations in the next few rounds and was able to withstand heavy pressure from ‘The Machine’ but once the bell rung, Fowler’s hand was raised for his 4-0 victory.
Speaking after the fight, Fowler spoke of his opponent, Fazekas. “He was tough, I knew he would be cute and clever, it’s exactly what I needed at this time in my career. I respect him because this is a hard job. I was a bit too patient tonight, I would like to go through the gears more. I just couldn’t find that one shot to get him out of there.”
Josh Warrington was victorious over Dennis Ceylan in an IBF Featherweight title Eliminator when the two took to the ring on Saturday night at the First Direct Arena, Leeds, UK.
Warrington, 26, from Leeds, was able to defeat Ceylan,28, with a tenth round stoppage to set up a title fight with IBF Featherweight champion, Lee Selby, as the mandatory challenger.
Warrington spoke after the fight and said, ”It means so much to me after all this time waiting,” “I know I had him hurt early on. I went for it a little too soon. I wanted to win the fight in style. I was hurting him. I should have taken a step back. I took a lot of punches by being erratic and wild”.