The Antrim man has been given a licence to thrill as he looks to double his world title tally and continue his meteoric rise in the sport.
The IBF bantamweight champion has jumped straight into a unification in what will be the first defence of his belt. Returning to the SSE Odyssey Arena on Saturday October 21st, he will face WBA champion Zhanat Zhakiyanov [27(18)-1(0)].
Burnett [17(11)-0] is hungry to increase his standing in the sport and elected to go big and face Zhakiyanov immediately rather than boxing mandatory challenger Emmanuel Rodriguez of Puerto Rico.
A fighter who was once told he had no future in the sport due to a failed brain scan, Burnett goes by the mantra of never say never again – and in just over seven weeks time he will look to make history.
His fight with Zhakiyanov will be the first ever unification bout to take place on Irish soil and Burnett has promised to be the man for the big occasion.
Speaking at the first press conference for the Belfast fight night, Burnett outlined how “I could’ve taken a different path, but I don’t want just to be a world champion, I want to be a great world champion.”
“The opportunity came where we could’ve defended the title or we could have gone for something bigger, but without a shadow of a doubt I’m going for something bigger.”
His Kazakh opponent comes from former Russia with glove, and is known for being an extremely tough road warrior, but Burnett believes he is capable of beating the living daylights out of ‘ZZ.’ Indeed the spectre of defeat against his former sparring partner doesn’t even cross his mind.
The North Belfast man described how “fighting Zhanat in my eyes will make me a great world champion when I win.”
For the hungry Burnett, his IBF title win over Lee Haskins in June only provided a quantum of solace, and the the Antrim Road 24 year old immediately set his sights on bigger and better prizes.
Burnett recalled how “once I got it [the IBF title], honestly I wasn’t satisfied and I realised very quickly that I wanted more. I said to Adam [Booth, trainer], ‘I’m happy, but I want more.'”
“This is a big fight, this is to unify the division. It’s very serious business, the same as the last fight was very serious.”
The Ryan Burnett v Zhanat Zhakiyanov undercard features Paul Hyland v Stephen Ormond, Tyrone McKenna v Tommy Coyle, James Tennyson v Darren Traynor, Feargal McCrory, Jay Byrne, and Josh Kelly, with more still to be announced.
Tickets for the night cost £30, £40, £60, £100, £150 (VIP), and are available from the boxers involved or through HERE