The IBF champ will defend his bantamweight title on Saturday October 21st at the SSE Odyssey Arena in Belfast and, as expected, the fight will be a unification with WBA titlist Zhanat Zhakiyanov [27(18)-1(0)].
The pair were once gym mates and sparring partners whilst under manager-trainer and former two-weight world champ Ricky Hatton. During this time they even shared a card in Belfast, amazingly both boxing on an Alio Wilton show in the tiny city centre Holiday Inn back in the Summer of 2013. Burnett would amicably split with Hatton soon after, while Zhakiyanov would go on to claim world honours earlier this year.
The 30 year old Kazakh recovered from two first round knockdowns in his last fight to claim the WBA title, defeating champion Rau’shee Warren on a split decision in his home patch in Ohio. With this win Zhakiyanov became the first fighter trained by Hatton to become a legitimate world champion.
Burnett [17(9)-0] will be vying to become Ireland’s second ever unified champ, after Carl Frampton who unified the IBF and WBA super bantamweight belts last year, in what will be the first ever unification fight to take place on these shores.
The Antrim Road 25 year old won the belt at the same venue in June, dropping and dominating England’s Lee Haskins.