Date: 3rd August 2017 at 12:45pm
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Back in June, Ryan Burnett won the IBF version of the bantamweight title with a big points win over Lee Haskins.

On 21st October, Burnett will make his first defence of his IBF bantamweight title against the WBA bantamweight champion, Zhanat Zhakiyanov, at the SSE Arena, in Belfast.

The unification fight, announced by Matchroom on Wednesday, gives Burnett the chance to further establish his name in a thriving weight division.

Burnett, talking about Zhakiyanov, a fighter trained by Ricky Hatton had this to say to the media,
‘I’m very excited. This is the path I’ve always believed in and asked for – to be not just a world champion but a great world champion and this is exactly the fight that propels me into that position.

‘I’ve done a lot of work with him in sparring but back then I was a kid and hardly had any fights and he was fighting for the European title. I know what it’s like to share a ring with him but he doesn’t know what it’s like to share a ring with the current Ryan Burnett.

‘A lot has changed since we last sparred for me but not with him. It’s good to have that bit of knowledge, I know a few things about him. That can only work in my favour.’

Eddie Hearn, talking about putting the fight together, has remarked,

‘I’m so proud firstly to be part of history in bringing this huge unification to Belfast but also of Ryan Burnett for taking on this huge challenge.

‘Following his great win against Haskins for the title, it would have been so easy to come back to Belfast with a standard defence but Ryan wants to be great and make history and this fight against Zhakiyanov can do just that.’

Zhakiyanov won the WBA belt by beating Rau?shee Warren, in Ohio, but had to climb of the canvas in the second round.

It has all the hallmarks of a great fight in the making.