Ryan Burnett believes he has sparring advantage over Zhanat Zhakiyanov

Ryan Burnett knows Zhanat Zhakiyanov – but the Kazakh doesn’t know the Belfast boy

Burnett [17(9)-0], in the first defence of his IBF bantamweight title, will look to unify with WBA champ Zhakiyanov [27(18)-1(0)], and the Antrim Road man believes he has an advantage going into the fight at the SSE Odyssey Arena on Saturday October 21st.

Before linking up with Adam Booth and later Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom, Burnett was trained and managed by former two-weight champ Ricky Hatton.

Zhakiyanov was a training and sparring partner during this time, but Burnett believes their time in the gym together will be a lot more beneficial to him come fight night.

The 25 year old former Youth Olympic gold medalist was only a novice pro when he spent time with the relentless Asian and he feels he can use his experiences from then to supplement his more complete, mature style.

Burnett described how “I’ve done a lot of work with him in sparring but back then I was a kid and hardly had any fights and he was fighting for the European title.”

“I know what it’s like to share a ring with him but he doesn’t know what it’s like to share a ring with the current Ryan Burnett. A lot has changed since we last sparred for me but not with him.”

“It’s good to have that bit of knowledge, I know a few things about him. That can only work in my favour.”

The Ulster man won the title in June with a dominant win over Lee Haskins and he wants to build on this with an immediate unification – against a boxer who is also looking to stockpile belts having won the WBA strap against Rau’shee Warren in January.

“I’m very, very excited!” said Burnett. “This is the path I’ve always believed in and asked for – to be not just a World champion but a great World champion and this is exactly the fight that propels me into that position. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“The Belfast fans have really took a shine to me especially since my last fight, everything has taken off and I’m just looking forward to getting back to the SSE Arena with a packed house behind me.”

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie