By Elliot Foster
Undefeated Ryan Burnett (17-0, 9 KOs) became the newest champion in Belfast after scoring two knockdowns to win a twelve round split decision over Lee Haskins to capture the IBF bantamweight championship.
Burnett excelled as he became a world champion. The Belfast bantamweight outclassed outgoing king Haskins (34-4, 14 KOs), exclusively live on Sky Sports.
Burnett was cut a few times during the fight –– as was Haskins, who was down in round six and round 11 –– but he won’t worry about that as he was crowned the IBF champion on an inexplicable split decision.
The three scoring judges at ringside at the SSE Arena in Belfast turned in tallies of 119-107 twice to Burnett and the rather strange 118-108 card in favour of Haskins.
The card could only have been a mistake, but the right man –– who produced a performance of such class against a veteran champion in Haskins –– won in the end, thankfully.
“I wasn’t worried about whether I was winning or not, I was just focusing on what I had to do,” Burnett told Sky Sports in the aftermath.
“Thanks to all the fans for coming out, I promised that I would be a world champion when I had an argument with my Dad at the age of 12 and tonight I did it.
“All credit to Haskins, he is an incredible fighter, but the best man won on the night.
“When I heard ‘split decision’, I thought: ‘Oh, God, they’re going to take it from me’, but thankfully the right man won.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn shed some light on the strange scorecard, saying that the scores had been put into the wrong box and that it should have been a unanimous decision.
ALSO ON THE CARD
Paul Hyland Jr. blitzed Adam Dingsdale inside a round to win a fringe belt.
The Belfast lightweight, who was last in action back in March, dropped his man twice, exclusively live on Sky Sports.
Hyland Jr., 26, is now 16-0 with six early after unleashing two barrages of shots which rocked the former Derry Mathews foe.
Dingsdale came in at short notice at the SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and he –– to his credit –– tried to hold on.
But it took just one minute and 49 seconds for ‘Hylo’ to pick up the vacant IBF European title and he will now be looking to push on to bigger and better things, eyeing the likes of the British and Commonwealth crowns which are held by Robbie Barrett and Sean Dodd respectively.
In defeat, Dingsdale slips to 16-4-1 with four early.
Meanwhile, Sean McGoldrick extended his undefeated ledger with a scrappy six-round victory over Ricky Starkey, who was deducted two points during the fight, by 59 points to 54.
He is expected to return to the ring at some point in September in Wales.
Mike Perez returned from a two-year hiatus to get a quick-fire stoppage.
The Cuban former amateur star, who has put in some serious work to get down to cruiserweight, ousted Viktor Biscak after just 29 seconds.
Perez (22-2-1, 14 KOs) hasn’t been seen in a ring before this fight since being put away inside a round by Alexander Povetkin in a challenge for the WBC Silver heavyweight title.
And in truth, we were never going to see much of him in this fight.
But Biscak, who was undefeated going into the fight, went down after a token right hook from Perez and was then clutching his ankle, leading to the referee waving the fight off.
The show’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, said that Perez will have to be active if he wants to be a force in the cruiserweight division and the plan is to box him either in Newcastle, at the Walker Activity Dome on June 23, or in London on July 1 at the O2 Arena.
Further details regarding Perez’s next fight will be revealed in due course.