Ryan Burnett wins bruising British title battle in Liverpool

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Ryan Burnett defended his British bantamweight title tonight and blasted himself into the consciousness of boxing fans with an exciting win over home favourite Ryan Farrag.

It wasn’t the explosive knockout victory that promoter Eddie Hearn wanted, but Burnett certainly entertained in a twelve-round domination.

The clash took place on the Tony Bellew v BJ Flores undercard in Liverpool at the Echo Arena and it definitely was uncharted territory for the Belfastman.

Scouser Farrag, a recent European champion, as well as a partisan home support, presented Burnett with the toughest test of his career, but one he passed with flying colours.

Making the first defence of his Lonsdale belt, the North Belfast 24 year old was involved in a bit of a fire-fight in an exciting opener, probably shipping more shots than he had in his previous three fights combined.

The two continued to trade shots in the second, with Burnett throwing the higher quality, but Farrag landing a notable amount.

The Liverpudlian probably had his best round of the fight in the third, aggressively cornering Burnett at one stage while the Irishman sought to land counters.

Burnett, with his left hook looking particularly potent, hit his stride in the fourth and probably should have scored a knockdown as, an admittedly off-balance, Farrag went down following a sharp combo.

The fifth stanza saw the Adam Booth-trained Burnett step up the pace and begin to target Farrag’s midsection with some hurtful left hooks.

Burnett badly hurt a valiant, but increasingly-ragged, Farrag in the sixth as he continued to crank up the pressure

As the fight entered the second half, MGM’s Farrag seemed to grab a bit of a second wind – although Burnett was still in control.

The ultra-game Farrag continued to dig in in the eight and the ninth, taking a lot of punishment from Burnett but absorbing and still throwing back.

Burnett coasted much of the tenth before a big flurry from Farrag saw the Belfast man roar into action, literally, and land some big shots that seemed to have the Englishman out on his feet.

As they entered the championship rounds Farrag continued to hang on. Burnett was landing the greater number of shots, but for the first time in the fight he did show signs of fatigue.

Both came out throwing for the final round, again Burnett was on top, but Farrag managed to, deservedly, survive.

With the result in no doubt, Burnett was handed the victory on the scorecards, with tallies of 118-110, 118-111, 117-111

The win sees World title-chasing Burnett move to 15(9)-0, while Farrag drops to 16(4)-3(1) following the loss.

Next up for Burnett, hopefully, is a return to his home city of Belfast in 2017.

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