Burnett vs Zhakiyanov: Zhanat Zhakiyanov questions battling spirit of Ryan Burnett before Belfast fight
Last Updated: 16/10/17 5:46pm
Zhanat Zhakiyanov has questioned Ryan Burnett’s battling spirit and believes he has beaten better fighters than the Belfast man ahead of their world title unification clash.
The Kazakh claimed the WBA 'super' bantamweight title after climbing off the canvas twice to outpoint Rau'shee Warren and has no concerns about travelling to Burnett's hometown for a battle with the division's IBF champion on Saturday October 21, live on Sky Sports.
Burnett produced a dominant points win over Lee Haskins to earn the IBF belt in June, but Zhakiyanov says his tougher fights at a higher level mean he is better prepared than his former sparring partner.
Zhakiyanov said: "Ryan was a young pro at the time we sparred and has developed into a worthy champion, however, he needs to understand that I have also developed and travelled around the world fighting better opposition.
"I travelled to America to beat Rau'shee Warren in his hometown where I went down early and pulled myself off the canvas. I don't know if Ryan has that experience and heart that I have.
I don't know if Ryan has that experience and heart that I have.
"You have to congratulate Ryan on a good victory over an awkward opponent back in June to win the IBF title, but my style is different to Haskins.
"In comparison to my other opponents, Burnett ranks high but I don't believe that that he's the best that I have faced so far. I'd say Karim Guerfi and Rau'shee Warren are better."
Burnett's gym-mate Josh Kelly fights for the fourth time in the paid ranks on another busy night in Belfast, with Team GB Olympic teammate Anthony Fowler also continuing his professional career on the undercard.
Unbeaten lightweight Paul Hyland Jnr faces Stephen Ormond and James Tennyson takes on Darren Traynor.