Ryan Burnett vs Zhanat Zhakiyanov
IBF bantamweight world champion, Irish Ryan Burnett, takes on WBA champion, Kazakh Zhanat Zhakiyanov, in his backyard, at the SSE Arena in Belfast.
Zhakiyanov starts the fight, aggressive, and on the front foot, as he lands a few big shots to the head of Burnett, before the first session is mostly hustling, holding, it is messy, a lot of shots smothered, Zhakiyanov instigating this, seeming to dictate the pace, and probably nick the first round.
Burnett begins to establish some distance in round 2, and fires some clean shots at Zhakiyanov. Burnett sustains his intelligent boxing, and seems to take a lead after 5 rounds.
Rounds 6-8 are interesting, as the two fighters stand toe to toe for much of the rounds, Zhakiyanov, quite rarely, but still successfully landing short, spiteful hooks and the occasional hard uppercut clean, but for the majority of the time, it is Burnett getting the better of the exchanges, younger, faster, and more technically skilled. It seems Burnett is extending his lead.
Burnett seems to be taking over in round 9, as he manages to find more distance between him and Zhakiyanov, therefore, he is able to use his lateral movement, didn't a good rhythm, and catch a clumsy, predictable looking Zhakiyanov on the way in, with crisp, clean punches.
Zhakiyanov tries his best time rally, well conditioned, and still with plenty in the tank, he has plenty of success, manages to back up Burnett at times, is very busy, but Burnett, still able to have his fair share of success, as he fires back, with perhaps less, but lands the cleaner punches. The fight finishes with both warriors fighting their hearts out trying to defend their belts, the last 3 minutes are very close, as they trade leather, but as the final bell goes, there is no question as to who has won the fight, and become the unified champion.
Ryan Burnett wins via unanimous decision, and becomes the WBA and IBF bantamweight world champion, winning by 3 wide margins, 2 of them, very wide, at least 1 of them, too wide. Burnett and his team are extremely happy as he holds both world title belts, whilst Zhakiyanov and his team, applaud Burnett, and seem gracious in defeat. British boxing legend, Ricky Hatton (Zhakiyanov's trainer), congratulates Burnett, admits his fighter was beaten by the better boxer on the night, but is not happy about the judges who declared that Zhanat won 2 rounds or less.
Worryingly, there is concern for Ryan Burnett after the fight, concern regarding the well being of his brain, he was neurologically tested in hospital. Thankfully, much to everybody's relief, Burnett is then told that he will be fine, and he is free to leave the hospital.