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Belfast boxer Ryan Burnett will bid to unify World titles at the SSE Arena


By David Kelly

Ryan Burnett looks set to have a mouth-watering bantamweight unification title fight with tough WBA champion Zhanat Zhakiyanov on October 21 at Belfast’s SSE Arena.

IBF World title holder Burnett was under pressure to make a mandatory title defence but has instead opted for a bid to emulate Carl Frampton by becoming a unified World champion. The Jackal unified the same titles at super-bantamweight at the Manchester Arena in February last year when defeating big rival Scott Quigg.

Belfast man Burnett landed the IBF title with a comprehensive points victory over veteran Lee Haskins at the SSE Arena in June in only his 17th fight but will be taking a significant step up in class when he faces Zhakiyanov. He knows all about the 33-year-old from Kazakhstan as he is managed by former World champion Ricky Hatton, with whom the Belfast man started his professional career.

The two men engaged in numerous sparring sessions at Hatton’s gym in Manchester so Burnett knows the challenge in front of him.

Indeed, promoter Eddie Hearn stated immediately after Burnett’s World title success that the fight with Zhakiyanov was one he “always fancied”.

The exciting duel will afford Burnett the opportunity to become only the second Irish fighter in history, following on from the Jackal, to hold two World title belts simultaneously.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the fight between Floyd Mayweather and UFC star Conor McGregor on August 26 in Las Vegas will be screened on Sky Box Office with a charge of £19.95.

It is seen by most within boxing as a farcical event but UFC chief Dana White has nevertheless stated that he expects around five million people to buy the clash at a cost of $99 on Showtime.

Sky will also now expect to cash in on the hyperbole.

Belfast Telegraph

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