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Who will be on the Ryan Burnett v Zhanat Zhakiyanov undercard?

This morning the IBF-WBA bantamweight unification between Belfast’s Ryan Burnett and Zhanat Zhakiyanov was finally officially confirmed.

The former sparring partners will meet in the Titanic City and the Sky Sports cameras will return on Saturday October 21st at the SSE Odyssey Arena.

However, the undercard for the bill will not be confirmed until a press conference next week.

With some time to wait, Irish-Boxing.com have taken a look at some potential fights and fighters for the card.

Andy Lee v Martin Murray
Perhaps not likely, but a fight which seems to make so much sense. Limerick middleweight Lee [35(24)-3(2)-1], who trains alongside Burnett under Adam Booth, is in the hunt for one final world title hurrah and wants a big fight next. Bouts with Peter Quillin and Danny Jacobs were mooted by the man himself, however could a fight in Ireland, where WBC #11 Lee has not fought since Frampton-Martinez 1 at the same venue, have greater appeal? In WBA #6 Murray [35(16)-4(1)-1], whose schedule would line up nicely for this fight, he has a world level opponent that could put the winner in the frame for a title fight. It’s one of the great disappointments that none of Matthew Macklin, Darren Barker, Lee or Murray fought, but here we could finally have the opportunity for a match-up – over half a decade on from when the foursome first came to prominence.

Paul Hyland Jr
Chief support last time, the Lagmore lightweight scored an electrifying first round stoppage, taking a big step up to put away Adam Dingsdale. Hylo [16(6)-0] would like a title fight, but Commonwealth champ Sean Dodd and British champ Robbie Barrett are both in action in September against Tom Stalker and Lewis Ritson respectively. Therefore a BBBoC Celtic title could make sense. While it would not seem likely that he will face Matchroom’s Charlie Flynn [8(1)-0-1], Scottish champ Darren Traynor [13(6)-1(1)] would fit the bill. Then there is former British champion, long-time Hylo target, and big name Scott Cardle [21(7)-1(0)-1] – who is of Scottish parentage.

James Tennyson v Anto Cacace
Tenny [19(15)-2(2)] was involved in a war last time, bludgeoning Ryan Doyle into submission after six. Matchroom’s British and Commonwealth super featherweight champion Martin J Ward [18(8)-0-2] would be a good fight, however he looks likely to vacate the belts and move up in level. Therefore, an all-Belfast battle with Cacace [15(7)-1(0)], who was narrowly edged out by Ward last month, would fit perfect, perhaps for the Commonwealth or BBBoC Celtic belt. A fight wanted especially by Cacace, it would pit Poleglass against Andersonstown, with two big punchers and massive local interest.

Jason Quigley
The Donegal middleweight is due a homecoming, and there have been a couple of hints in recent times. It was believed this return may come on the proposed Katie Taylor Dublin bill in November but, with this no longer happening, attentions have turned to Belfast – which, logistically, would be a preference for Quigley’s supporters. Quigley is ranked #11 with the WBC, and a fight with #8 Jack Arnfield [24(6)-2(0)] would make career-sense. Always with an eye on all-Irish clashes though, a match-up with Cork KO artist and Sky favourite Spike O’Sullivan [24(16)-2(1)] would have massive appeal, recently coming in as the #3 all-Irish fight that our readers wanted to see. However, any fight date would hinge on the full recovery of the right hand of Quigley [13(10)-0] which was badly injured back in March.

Luke Watkins v Tommy McCarthy
Irish cruiserweight champion Watkins[11(7)-0] scored a stunning stoppage of former holder Ian Tims. McCarthy [9(5)-1(0)] saw a fight with Mike Perez on the same bill fall through, and a bout between the two black Irishmen has been mooted ever since. Both parties have already agreed to fighting and it would seem as though agreeing terms is the only hurdle left to clear. While, as champion, Watkins is not subject to the new BUI eligibility rules regarding the title, Irish-born McCarthy is ineligible due to holding a BBBoC licence. Therefore the Irish title would not be on the line. However perhaps the BBBoC Celtic title could be fought for and give the winner a route to British champion Matty Askin.

Paddy Gallagher v Matthew Wilton
With the domestic scene set for an upheaval, the long-mooted fight between the Belfast pair, who both featured on the last show, makes more sense than ever. Galway’s John O’Donnell and Tamuka Mucha fight in a British title final eliminator in September but, with Bradley Skeete having won the belt outright and looking likely to vacate, this could be upgraded to a title fight. With Frankie Gavin ruling himself out of the running and Ashley Theophane staying in America, it’s wide open below this. Gallagher [11(7)-3(0)] has mentioned a fight with Londoner Johnny Garton [20(7)-1(1)-1], however a defence of his BBBoC Celtic belt and eliminator against local rival Wilton [16(3)-0] would attract even more interest.

Feargal McCrory
The well-supported Coalisland super feather made a huge impression on Eddie Hearn last time out with a stoppage win over recent Central Area champ Paul Holt. Following two knockouts in successive step-ups, McCrory [6(3)-0] wants more progress. With a win over a former Area champion in the bag, he could take on a reigning Area titlist, with Scottish champion Jordan McCorry [13(2)-3(1)-1] fitting the bill, perhaps for the BBBoC Celtic title. Even better, why not bring back Manchester-Dub Ryan Doyle [14(8)-2(2)-1], who made a huge impression against Tennyson last time out?

Tyrone McCullagh
The Derry super bantamweight is extremely hungry for titles. McCullagh [7(4)-0] opened the show in June, but saw a fight with Dubliner Carl McDonald [2(0)-0] fall through. McDonald fights in a six-rounder with Regan Buckley [1(0)-0] at the start of September, and ‘White Chocolate’ wants to take a shot at the winner, over eight for the BUI Celtic title.

Who else?
Kieran Farrell runs a show in the city just two weeks beforehand, however any of Padraig McCrory, Tom Kearney, Mathew Fitzsimons, Mark Morris, or Sean Higginson could still fight here. MTK fighters such as Gary Cully, Davey Oliver Joyce, Steven Ward, Alfredo Meli, or the Upton Brothers, who used to train with Burnett under Ricky Hatton, could also feature. Boxing Ireland’s Eric Donovan [4(3)-0] is another who wouldn’t turn down a slot on the bill and the RTÉ pundit and European bronze medalist, along with manager Leonard Gunning, has been gunning for a fight with Matchroom fighter Reece Bellotti [10(9)-0].

gym trition

frayne carpentry

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