SSE Arena, Belfast - In a bantamweight unification for the IBF, WBA world titles, Ryan Burnett (18-0, 9 KOs) won a twelve round unanimous decision over Zhanat Zhakiyanov (27-2, 18 KOs). The scores were 118-110, 119-109 and 116-112.
Burnett captured the IBF strap back in June with a twelve round unanimous decision over Lee Haskins at the Odyssey Arena.
Back in February, Zhakiyanov traveled over to the United States and overcame two knockdowns to win a twelve round decision over United States Olympian Rau'shee Warren to capture the WBA, IBO titles.
Zhakiyanov had the edge in the early going, pressing forward and making it a tough bout by pushing Burnett back and landing the better variety of punches during their exchanges in close.
In the fourth, Zhakiyanov was not allowing Burnett to get any room by staying very close to him, letting his hands go and catching Burnett with some strength sapping shots. Burnett was looking to box, by staying away and using his jab to outbox the bigger puncher.
In the fifth, Burnett was getting things going with his boxing ability, pumping the jab and starting to land more often with punches. The sixth was a back and forth round, with both having their moments. Zhakiyanov was pressing forward with his hard hooks and Burnett was boxing at the distance and going toe to toe when they were on the inside.
Burnett was really making it a grueling fight as they were battling in the seventh round, just trading punches on the inside with each fighter getting off. Burnett had the edge with the better shots during the eight and ninth rounds with the more eye-catching shots as Zhakiyanov was charging inside to do damage.
They continued to battle at a high pace in the remaining rounds, but Zhakiyanov was allowing Burnett to outhustle him during moments as they were trading punches - mostly on the inside. Burnett continued to land the more eye catching shots and Zhakiyanov was winging wide punches there were not landing very clear or were being blocked.
Also on the card, in a tougher than expected contest, and some felt a controversial decision, Paul Hyland Jr. (17-0, 6 KOs) kept his IBF East/West Europe lightweight title with a twelve round split decision win over Stephen Ormond (24-5). The scores were 117-110 Hyland, 115-112 Ormond and 114-113 Hyland. Ormond was down in the third, but seemed to have the edge in many of exchanges and was bullying Hyland around the ring.
Junior welterweight Tyrone McKenna (15-0-1, 6 KOs) won a ten round decision over Renald Garrido (19-17). The referee scored it 96-94.
James Tennyson (20-2, 16 KOs) stopped Darren Traynor (14-2) in the third round to retain the WBA International super featherweight world title.
Olympian Josh Kelly (4-0, 3 KOs) blew away veteran Jose Luis Zuniga (13-3) in the second round.
Olympian Anthony Fowler (4-0, 3 KOs) won a six round decision over Laszlo Fazekas (31-28) with a sole score of 60-54 from the referee.
Tommy McCarthy (10-1, 6 KOs) blew away Peter Hegyes (8-17) in one round.