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Scarface Ryan Burnett promises to be a cut above Zhanat Zhakiyanov

Ryan Burnett still bears a memento from his maiden world title victory

The Belfast bantamweight was cut badly in the second round of his IBF title challenge against Lee Haskins, but overcame the deep gash to claim a dominant win.

The nasty cut required minor surgery to repair and an old-school scar now adorns the forehead of Burnett.

The 25 year old had previously joked that his fiancée Lara loved the macho mark on his head – and it looks to be all positives for Burnett with the prominent scar having no added risk of reopening.

This is definitely good news for the Antrim Road man ahead of his unification with WBA champion Zhanat Zhakiyanov [27(18)-1(0)] tomorrow night at the SSE Odyssey Arena, live on Sky Sports.

Burnett [17(9)-0] will go into the bout with the rough and ready Kazakh feeling comfortable about his facial fortitude.and explained how “I went and saw the doctor who took a look at it and everything’s perfect.”

“I’ve took a couple of whacks in sparring on it and I haven’t even thought about it. If anything, it’s perfect.”

“He [Zhakiyanov] might possibly lead with his head, but I might lead with my head as well!”

“Listen, we’ve had people in there, and their faces have been right in mine in sparring, we know exactly what to do if that situation arises. Everything’s in perfect order.”

A notoriously hard trainer, Burnett believes his camp in London under Adam Booth has “definitely” been tougher than what the fight will turn out to be.

The 2010 Youth Olympic gold medalist outlined how “we flew in super featherweights, big, strong guys that could deal with anything I was doing and I capable of putting me under serious pressure.”

“Working under the pressure, I was capable of performing, so that ticks the box and proves to me and Adam that I’m capable of dealing with the situation before me on the night.”

“Believe me when I say that I’m well-prepared and well capable of dealing with any situation that he brings on the night. Adam’s given me a very good training camp and he’s put me through my paces which will prove that I can deal with anything on the night.

During yesterday’s press conference Zhakiyanov’s trainer – and Burnett’s former coach – Ricky Hatton noted how the Central Asian can be vulnerable in the early rounds.

Whether this was a frank admission or mind games, Burnett is paying no attention to this assertion

The fighter aiming to become Ireland’s second ever unified champion after Carl Frampton is promising to dominate Zhakiyanov regardless.

Burnett described how “I’m not going to rely on his weaknesses. It’d be immature of me to rely on his so-called weaknesses to be able to better myself.”

“I’m not going to rely on him being a slow starter, I’ll think of him as the best he can be, and if I can deal with the best he can be then I win the night.”

“I know what to expect, I know what’s going to happen in there.”

“Technically and with intelligence, I’ll be able to break the fight down and control it at my pace.”


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