Hatton hoping Zhakiyanov can take improving Burnett to the trenches

Ryan Burnett’s current coach Adam Booth and the man he replaced, Ricky Hatton, are in agreement about one thing ahead of Saturday’s big fight.

There is more to come from Ryan Burnett.

The Antrim Road bantamweight looks to unify his IBF title with WBA champ Zhanat Zhakiyanov at the SSE Odyssey Arena on Saturday night, live on Sky Sports.

Burnett [17(9)-0] was trained by Hatton for the first four pro fights of his career and has been reacquainted with the Manchester fight legend this week.

The former two-weight champ still refers to Burnett as his “buddy” and hugged the Belfast boxer at today’s press conference – but he is looking to cause the 25 year old’s downfall.

Hatton coaches Zhakiyanov [27(18)-1(0)], who formerly sparred Burnett while they were both under The Hitman, and the Englishman believes ‘ZZ’ will have too much for his former pupil.

That said, Hatton does not see it is an easy fight – nor is it a foregone conclusion.

Indeed the 39 year old feels that Burnett will continue to improve, and admits that there could be some dangerous moments for his own charge on Saturday night.

Analysing the match-up, Hatton mused how “the manner Ryan has done it [won his title] shows there’s more to come from him. But Zhanat can hit and because Ryan’s got that big heart, he sometimes gets involved when he shouldn’t.”

“The danger for us is Zhanat is a traditionally a slow starter, he started slow in his last fight and got tagged in the first rounds, so that’s the danger for us but I’d like to think that we can put those mistakes right.”

“If Zhanat comes through the early rounds – and he might have to come through a few minefields in order to do it – but if he does do it and comes into the trenches that’s where the fight might come over to our side.”

One thing Hatton is sure of is that the fight on Saturday will be a special one.

He outlined how “this is a real fight city and they’ve got this historic world-title fight, the first time a unification fight is in Belfast and what a fight for it. It’s a historic fight for Belfast boxing.”

“When you look at the great fights that have been made recently, Ryan and Zhanat aren’t household names when you’re talking about Canelo-Golovkin, but from a stylistic point of view I don’t see many fights out there that are better.”

“They’re two nice guys, but there’s not going to be anything nice about the fight because both guys are coming to fight and get stuck in.”

Agreeing with Hatton, Burnett’s current coach Booth feels the 2010 Youth Olympic gold medalist has more to give.

‘The Dark Lord’ noted that “the manner Ryan had his victory where he’s been so clear and precise in what he’s done and with every test that’s been put in front of him and it’s no different to what I see in the gym.”

“That’s what I’m looking forward to on Saturday night – a fantastic fight and an incredible atmosphere and Ryan’s going to show that he still has many more levels in him.

Looking ahead to the fight, Booth believes tactics will be the winning and losing of the bout.

The Londoner described how “it’s a great match-up. We’ve enjoyed the training camp and we’ve put the work in.”

“Ryan mentally, physically and emotionally is prepared for what we believe is every eventuality.

“At this level when the desire and the level of the opponent is equal, it’s the man that can make constant adjustments throughout the fight. That will be the deciding factor.”


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