Ryan Burnett to face Zhanat Zhakiyanov in world bantamweight unification title fight
Ryan Burnett's first defence of his IBF world bantamweight belt will be against WBA champion Zhanat Zhakiyanov at the SSE Arena in Belfast on 21 October.
Details of the unification fight were confirmed by the Belfast boxer's Matchroom management team on Wednesday.
Burnett clinched the IBF title at the Belfast venue in June with a landslide points win over Bristol's Lee Haskins.
Zhakiyanov survived two first-round knockdowns to become WBA champion by outpointing Rau'shee Warren in Ohio.
The Kazakhstan fighter, 30, who defeated the American in February, is trained by Ricky Hatton, who Burnett worked with before moving to Matchroom.
The IBF moved quickly to declare 25-year-old Burnett the unanimous winner over Haskins after one judge initially incorrectly awarded the verdict to the Englishman after mixing up the boxers.
"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," said Burnett.
"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."
Promoter Eddie Hearn added: "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."
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