Burnett becomes champion

By Cain Bradley on October 22, 2017
Burnett becomes champion
Burnett was taken to hospital as a precaution which tells you how much of a war it was.

Ryan Burnett is the first Irishman to unify world titles, a fascinating record for a nation associated with boxing…

Ryan Burnett (18-0) unified the IBF and WBA Bantamweight titles by beating Zhanat Zhakiyanov (27-2). It was a shutdown decision, arguably a bit wide with scores of 118-110, 119-109 and 116-112. He become the first Irishman to unify world titles, a fascinating record for a nation associated with boxing. Many of the rounds were close, but Burnett had the few rounds that were decisively won. It was a scrappy contest—it tends to be when Zhakiyanov is involved. Burnett, even in rounds he lost, showed himself to be the classy operator. That does not always matter with the Kazakh, who tries to apply constant pressure and win a phone-booth fight. Burnett showed an ability to be tactically flexible, at times outboxing Zhakiyanov and also choosing to stand and fight with him. The SSE Arena was in full pelt, a cauldron of noise, behind the home boy. The body work of Burnett was really strong and probably would have hurt a lesser man but Zhakiyanov kept coming. Burnett was taken to hospital as a precaution which only tells you how much of a war it was. He is one of three Bantamweight world champions based in the United Kingdom and perhaps you could see him unify against Jamie McDonnell or Zolani Tete while Paul Butler is also in the mix. First I would imagine could be a mandatory against Emmanuel Rodriguez.

Paul Hyland (17-0) edged Stephen Ormond (24-5) to defend his IBF East/West Europe Lightweight Title. It was a split decision, with scores of 112-115, 117-110 and 114-113, although I agreed with the Sky Sports panel in believing Ormond did enough. Hyland was supported passionately by his home Belfast crowd but was given a hell of a fight by Ormond. He made sure the majority of the fight was fought at close range with Ormond the aggressor but Hyland often too happy to stand in the trenches. He was at his best when using his range to catch Ormond on the way in. He even dropped Ormond in round three with a wonderfully timed short right. Hyland will grow from this fight but he was far too easy to catch with the left hook and overhand right of Ormond, a bigger puncher would likely have stopped him. If he is looking for a domestic bout then the lightweight division is packed, Scott Cardle could be an intriguing opponent although a rematch is a possibility.

James Tennyson (20-2) impressively defended his WBA International Super Featherweight title by stopping Darren Traynor (14-2) in the third round. The Assassin from Belfast is a big power puncher and finished Traynor with an overhand right. He is explosive ad will no doubt be fun to watch but the vulnerabilities exist.

Anthony Fowler (4-0) and Josh Kelly (4-0) both added another win to the resume. Fowler dominated Laszlo Fazekas (31-28-1), winning every round on the scorecards. He still reminds me a tad of someone who will be a far better amateur than pro, but we shall see as he gets stepped up. Josh Kelly looks like he will be stepped up soon after impressively stopping Jose Luis Zuniga (13-3-1). It was revealed after the fight that Adam Booth had asked for a top 30 ranked opponent on the Bellew-Haye undercard, with Ashley Theophane a previously mentioned candidate.

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