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Champion Burnett eyes title double


By David Kelly

Northern Ireland's new World champion Ryan Burnett is heading for an immediate bantamweight unification showdown with WBA title holder Zhanat Zhakiyanov at Belfast's SSE Arena before the end of the year.

Belfast fighter Burnett became the IBF World champion in only his 17th fight when outpointing Bristol's Lee Haskins on Saturday night and now promoter Eddie Hearn wants to match him with Manchester-based Zhakiyanov, who happens to be guided by the Belfast man's former manager, Ricky Hatton.

Burnett will now be ordered by the IBF to defend his title against mandatory challenger Emmanuel Rodriguez but that can be circumvented by having a unification clash with Kazakhstan's Zhakiyanov, either in October or November.

"We can't ask for an exception to fight anyone else because Lee Haskins had asked for an exception to face Ryan. So we will try to make the unification with Zhakiyanov. They've sparred many rounds together and Ryan fancies the job," said Hearn.

"We'll do that in Belfast. I want to thank the Belfast public because they were great and I think the next time we'll get even more in the arena. A new star has been born and he has a very big future and he can move up the weight - Ryan and Michael Conlan would be a good fight one day."

Belfast Telegraph


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