Burnett Unifies WBA & IBF Bantamweight Titles
IBF Bantamweight Champion Ryan Burnett (18-0, 9 KOs) defeated WBA Champion Zhanat Zhakiyanov (27-2, 18 KOs) via unanimous decision in a title unification bout at the SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
In the first couple of rounds, Zhakiyanov appeared to be more in control, as he put the pressure on Burnett early, forcing him into retreat. Zhakiyanov also seemed to have the upper hand when it came to battles on the inside.
But by the third and fourth, momentum seemed to start to shift. Burnett looked to utilize the jab to the fullest of its potential and keep his distance. Meanwhile, Zhakiyanov continued to chase the IBF champion down and deliver powerful blows on the inside.
The jab proved to be efficient for Burnett in the fifth round. And in the sixth, Burnett was outboxing the WBA champion on the outside, and put up a strong showing when the two clashed inside, especially when dealing with some powerful hooks by Zhakiyanov.
After a seventh round that saw a lot of close-range fighting, the eighth and ninth rounds saw Zhakiyanov continue his charge-in strategy, though it clearly had taken its toll at this point, as he seemed fatigued. For the final three rounds, it was clear Burnett had the better punches, and was the one landing more.
All three judges awarded the contest to Burnett, with scores of 118-110, 119-109 and 116-112.