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Burnett targets another Belfast bout to add a third World bantamweight title

Here's the bout promoter Eddie Hearn wants Burnett to take on next

By David Kelly

New unified IBF and WBA bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett is now one of the hottest properties in world boxing, according to top promoter Eddie Hearn.

Belfast fighter Burnett, who had a brief visit to the Royal Victoria Hospital after a bruising 12 rounds, followed in the footsteps of Carl Frampton by unifying two belts with his gritty victory over Kazakhstan's Zhanat Zhakiyanov at Belfast's SSE Arena. Now Hearn is aiming to bring him back in March or April for another big night.

Hearn would ideally like to see Burnett face the WBA's regular title holder Jamie McDonnell, who defends his belt on November 4.

"Ryan has so many options now. HBO (the US broadcaster) were here and loved the atmosphere and Ryan who, because of his style and the fact he's a unified champion, could go and be an attraction in the States.

"But I'd like to see him continue his momentum at home and a fight with Jamie McDonnell would be great," said Hearn.

Hearn added: "McDonnell is after big fights and the biggest fight out there in the bantamweight division is Ryan Burnett. He's now the number one in the division.

"It's scary to think how many more levels he has got to go. He's making bantamweight, it's not easy but it's not yet at a stage where he can't make the weight anymore. He could quite easily go to super-bantamweight and try to become a two-weight world champion. Ryan doesn't want the easy option, he wants to test himself.

"He could have a fight with McDonnell or Paul Butler, the former world super-flyweight champion, or he could try and win another belt. The WBO champion Zolani Tete is an option or the WBC belt which may be about to become vacant."

WBC champion Luis Nery has a non-title bout next month as, after defeating Shinsuke Yamanaka to win the title, he then subsequently tested positive for a banned substance. The World Boxing Council have yet to make a decision on the state of their title but it should it become vacant then Burnett could easily be in the frame for a shot at their belt.

Hearn dished out significant praise for Burnett's coach and manager Adam Booth who guided the 25-year-old through a gruelling 36 minutes.

"Adam Booth is so clever. They just outfoxed Zhakiyanov and the problem is, when you're a one-dimensional fighter, there's only so much you can do and when you get shut down you can't adapt.

"What Ryan is able to do, is adapt, and he shut him down in the first half of the fight, then he outboxed him, then he beat him up and he did a bit of everything. By the eighth round Zhakiyanov had not given up but run out of ideas.

"I had it by five or six rounds, you know, it was hard to give Zhakiyanov some of the rounds."

Zhakiyanov's coach, former World champion Ricky Hatton commented: "I thought the judging was very harsh on Zhanat. He feels very annoyed, he said to me 'people who haven't seen the fight will think I got murdered'. I explained to him that it was close but I thought Ryan nicked it, he had that little bit more quality."

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