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Ryan Burnett on way to becoming a legend: Barney Eastwood

Big win can help Burnett join Ulster's great bantams

By David Kelly

Legendary boxing promoter Barney Eastwood says bullish Ryan Burnett can go a long way towards becoming an Irish boxing legend tomorrow night in the SSE Arena.

Belfast man Burnett added himself to the rich tradition of Northern Ireland bantamweights when winning the IBF World title in June but an impressive victory over fellow World champion Zhanat Zhakiyanov, the WBA title holder, would take him to another level.

Eastwood, who managed numerous World champions, has witnessed the best post-war bantamweights to grace an Irish ring and having been ringside to witness Burnett's title victory over Lee Haskins he feels the 25-year-old is on the cusp of a highly significant win.

Indeed, he now rates him alongside bantam greats John Caldwell, John Kelly, Freddie Gilroy and Wayne McCullough.

"I would say that Burnett has the potential to surpass all four of those guys. I think at the moment he has shown that he ticks most of the boxes and he's only had 17 fights," said Eastwood.

"His speed and footwork reminds me of the great John Caldwell. I'm not saying that he is quite at that level now but he is getting there and a win on Saturday night against this guy Zhakiyanov will push him right up there.

"He still has a lot to do but he's moving in the right direction and from what I saw the last time he has a lot of potential and even now would be a handful for any bantamweight in the world."

While Eastwood has been highly impressed with the way Burnett has developed over the past couple of years, he believes there is still much more to come from the 25-year-old.

“I like the way he moves and he’s a sharp puncher but I think he can show even more power when he just settles down and lets the punches flow,” added Eastwood.

“There are times at the moment when he looks a little over-anxious and loads up but that will come with more experience and I think you’ll see more power in his shots.

“He’s a very confident fighter and I think over the past few fights he has really developed. His trainer Adam Booth seems like a very good operator, he has clearly helped him blossom and he’s still only 25.

“I was impressed with the way he handled Haskins the last time. Some may not have appreciated the win as much as they possibly should have but Haskins was the chairman of the ‘who needs him club’ because of his awkward style and nobody before had been able to beat him so convincingly,” he said.

“Ryan also suffered a very bad cut early on but that didn’t deter him, he stayed clam and got the job done.

“He’s come at a tough time in terms of getting a huge following because he is following on from Carl Frampton but I think a good win against this guy on Saturday night can see him hopefully get a lot more support from the public. His talent certainly deserves it.

“He deserves credit just for taking this fight with Zhakiyanov who is a really tough guy and will give him some very tough moments.

“That’s to be expected in this fight, but I think he will come through it.”

Belfast Telegraph

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