by Shaun Brown
IBF bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett (17-0, 9 KOs) will attempt to unify the 118lbs division when the Northern Irishman faces WBA Undisupted champion Zhanat Zhakiyanov (27-1, 18 KOs) on October 21 at the SSE Arena, Belfast. The fight will be televised by Sky Sports.
Burnett and Zhakiyanov both won their titles earlier this year. Burnett ran out a comfortable winner against Lee Haskins back in June while Zhakiyanov got the nod over Rau'Shee Warren in February.
Ricky Hatton, who once trained Burnett, led the Kazakh to success giving him his first world champion as a trainer.
Taking on Zhakiyanov is a signal of intent from Burnett and his team. Instead of looking for a softer first defence he is going in against one of the toughest men in the division.
Speaking after his victory over Haskins, Burnett said: "I promised everyone that this belt would stay in Belfast and it has."
Speaking to Sky Sports News, the IBF champion said: "I said to Eddie. I don't just want to be a world champion I want to be a great world champion.
"I'm looking forward to getting back home. Belfast is only a small place but when it comes to sport it has so much pride. I'd been training all my life for that moment."
Details on the undercard and tickets will be released at a press conference next week.