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ZZ Tops Ryan Burnett’s world title wishlist

Ryan Burnett [15(9)-0] would like his promised world title shot to come against former gym mate and sparring partner.

The Belfast bantamweight, the current British champion, looks set to challenge for world honours in early May according to promoter Eddie Hearn.

Burnett would like this to be against recently-crowned WBA champ Zhanat Zhakiyanov [27(18)-1(0)].

The Kazakh won the 118lbs world title earlier this month, the fist Hatton-trained fighter to do so, with a gutsy win over Rau’shee Warren where he survived two early knockdowns and came back to score a split-decision victory.

Burnett shared some gym-time with relentless Zhakiyanov between 2013 and 2014 during the period of his career where he was trained by Hatton, and he is familiar with the challenge that the Asian would bring.

Now trained by Adam Booth, Burnett told Sky Sports that “I have done some work with him because he was at Hatton’s gym when I was there and he was very, very hard and I am sure there are plenty of fighters in the division that will avoid him.”

“But it’s definitely a fight I want and it’s definitely one I think I can cope with – and win.”

Before the mooted title shot however, Burnett must deal with the challenge posed by Mexican Joseafat Reyes this Saturday on the undercard of Gavin McDonnell’s WBC super bantamweight title fight with Rey Vargas at the Ice Arena in Hull.

The division’s other champions are Marlon Tapales (WBO), Shinsuke Yamanaka (WBC), and Lee Haskins (IBF). Matchroom had been in talks with Filipino Tapales, however ‘The Marauding Nightmare’ has elected to defend his belt in Japan against Shohei Omori in April.

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