Ireland’s newest, and currently only, World Champion claims the Titanic City is the best place to fight in the World.
Most fighters aspire to appear on the Strip or in Madison Square Garden, but Burnett is a homebird and he is looking forward to making history in front of the local and partisan following on Saturday night, live on Sky Sports.
“They are the best,” he responded when asked about Irish fight fans.
“Everyone asks me where would you love to fight, would you love to fight in Vegas, no chance – I want to fight in Belfast. This is where I want to be.”
Unlike some of the more recent headliners in the fight loving city the IBF bantamweight champion didn’t build a fanbase from home. He left for England in his teens and topped his first bill in his beloved home town in a massive World title fight with Lee Haskins back in June.
The Adam Booth-trained fighter received a warm welcome and generated a big atmosphere before, during and after the life changing win.
He expects things to be that big bigger this time around. However, while he is looking forward to the extra noise he is adamant he won’t let it affect him in his unification bout with WBA titlist Zhanat Zhakiyanov [27(18)-1(0)] at the SSE Odyssey Arena this weekend.
“From what I am hearing, tickets have sold extremely well – so I look forward to hearing the extra bit of a roar on the night.”
“It will be some atmosphere but if you know how to deal with it mentally you can handle it physically.”
Saturday night represents a historic night for Irish boxing. The island hosts its first ever unification fight , it’s also a massive occasion for Burnett as he could cement his name as an Irish great and join Carl Frampton as only the Ireland’s second ever unified title holder.
However, the fighter himself seems intent on not getting caught up in the hype and is avoiding the sense of occasion as much as he can.
Burnett is singing off the ‘just another fight’ hymn sheet as he takes on his former stablemate in one of the biggest fights to ever come to these shores.
“I don’t feel any different. It is what it is, it’s another fight. I don’t consider myself anything better than I was previous. I just think of myself as the same person and that is just the attitude that I like to have.”
“I am not an arrogant person. I am in it for the game I am not here to be anything that I am not. it’s all enjoyable and i won’t look at things any different now that I am World champion.”
The chance to grab a second belt hasn’t even stirred the 25 year old Matchroom promoted champ. The chance to add the WBA title to his collection of trinkets hasn’t been used as extra motivation.
“It’s the cherry on top, but I won’t allow it to put anymore pressure on me. It just makes things a little bit sweeter.”
Burnett is well aware of the threat Saturday’s Kazakh foe brings having sparred him on many occasions back in his Ricky Hatton days.
The Antrim Road man believes the WBA title holder will continue his bull like approach to the game and he is happy to play matador even if it won’t make for a thrilling encounter.
“I expect him to perform like he always does, bull headed and in a straight line. I think he will just keep coming forward and I have the tools to deal with that. I also have the tools to deal with anything else he wants to bring.”
“People love a good scrap, but at the end of the day I am not in it to stand toe to toe and have a war. I am here to be smart and do things properly. I will systematically break him down and go to take that win.”
“With different fights you have to become a different boxer. With this fight I have to be a completely different fighter to my previous fight. I am blessed to have Adam in my corner, a guy who has been in the game so long and knows exactly what he is doing and he has prepared me perfectly for the challenge ahead.”
“I focus on being as best as I can. I don’t really care what tricks he has up his sleeve and what he is going to do. I have prepared myself to deal with any situation that happens on the night so he may be very confident, but so am I.”
Photo Credit – Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)