Ryan Burnett has become Ireland’s newest, and only current, world champion following a dominant win over reigning world champion Lee Haskins.
The North Belfast bantamweight claimed the IBF bantamweight belt with a controlled, aggressive display against Haskins which saw him claim the 118lbs red belt by a wide margin.
Burnett, walking into ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ with the Belfast fans making an incredible noise, looked every bit a world champion from the opening bell.
A cagey start, saw Burnett land with a handful of single shots to take the opening round.
In a messy second, both boxers were cut on the scalp from head clashes, with Burnett receiving the worse wound. With the fists, the Antrim Road man was again landing the shots of note.
25 last month, Burnett was the younger man by some eight years, but was enjoying controlled success in the third before Haskins was warned for hitting on the break and cut on the right brow from another head clash.
A long right lead from the home fighter had the fans on their feet in the fourth round, before noticeably upping his aggression in the second half of the stanza.
In a scrappy fifth, Burnett would land the counter right well although Haskins was having success on the inside. The Irishman would complain following another head clash, but looked to be up on the cards as the bout approached half-way.
The reigning champion would become more aggressive in the sixth round but he would be forced to the ropes by Burnett who floored him with a massive right hook. Haskins rose, looking the worst for wear but managed to survive the Burnett assault, even catching the challenger with a short uppercut on the bell.
Burnett would dominate the early part of the seventh, a round which seemed to fizzle out somewhat as it went on.
Haskins landed some solid shots during the eighth, but a strong finish to the round from Burnett had the Englishman starting to look like a spent force.
Burnett was given a stern warning for use of the head in the ninth, and did ship one big shot from Haskins, but the Ulsterman was landing a far greater number of punches.
The Belfast boy would rock Haskins again early in the tenth, and then again in the final minute, with Haskins looking to be on his last legs
Going into the championship rounds, a quiet eleventh would spring into life as Haskins hit the canvas following a barrage of shots, although he claimed the shot which sent him down was actually a push. The Bristolian rose but was subject to a ferocious attack from Burnett, who almost sent him through the ropes, before the bell intervened.
With Haskins needing a knockout, Burnett would ease his way through the final stanza to seal a famous win.
Going to the cards after a competitive, albeit on reflection one-sided fight, Burnett was awarded the win and the IBF bantamweight title with scorelines of 119:107, 118:108, 119:107 – although there was initial confusion with the fight being announced as a split decision. It is assumed that that the 118:108 card in favour of Haskins from judge Clark Sammartino was intended for Burnett as the Irishman, incorrectly, fought out of the blue corner.
The victory sees world champion Ryan Burnett improve his record to 17(9)-0, while Lee Haskins drops to 34(14)-4(3)