A look ahead to the Lee Haskins vs Ryan Burnett fight in Belfast who will box for the IBF bantamweight world title at the Odyssey Arena.
The list of Northern Irish world champions may not be particularly long, but it is filled with memorable names and faces, and Belfast’s own Ryan Burnett is looking to make his the latest name on the list this Saturday night in front of a raucous home crowd.
But this is far from an easy hoist into the world class at Bantamweight, as he faces the talented and extremely unorthodox Lee Haskins for the IBF title.
Bristol’s Haskins 34-3(14KO’s) has developed from a learning curve that taught him every trick in the book. Defeat to Stephane Jamoye in 2012 seemed to end any hope that the slick southpaw would make the leap to world class.
But after he was handed the title on the scales – then champion Randy Caballero was stripped after failing to make weight – he confirmed his status with a points win over Ivan Morales.
Long-time rival, Stuey Hall was next, but this time Haskins was made to work harder than he ever could have imagined. It was a contest where he squeaked home by the slimmest of margins.
That has left a question hanging in the air. Is the 33-year old, after 37 fights, in an up-and-down career finally hitting the rocks?
The self-proclaimed ‘Playboy’ has played with many opponents over the years, but he will need to draw on all his ability to come through the young and untested Burnett.
Burnett 16-0(9KO’s) is 25-years old, but touted as one of the hottest prospects coming out of the United Kingdom.
After a blistering start to life in the professional ranks – under the tutelage of Adam Booth – he has had to settle for the long game in each of his last 5 contests.
That includes a pair of British title fights and a duo of 10-round contests for the WBC International Bantamweight crown.
But now it is time for Burnett to step up from the likes of Ryan Farrag and Anthony Settoul, to face a legitimate world class operator.
On his record alone, Burnett does not seem ready for this step up the ladder. But his displays in the ring breath an air of brilliance, the sort of brilliance that could make Saturday his night.
Haskins style will not be to drag the younger, inexperienced fighter in to trench warfare, which again may suit the greener Burnett who would prefer nothing more than a fight in which he as the challenger is the aggressor.
But from the other point of view, Burnett may not be ready to face someone with the boxing IQ that Haskins has, and he may be lacking the know-how to close the gap on Haskins across the 12-rounds.
There will be a fine plan set out for Burnett to follow, but unless he is able to hurt Haskins at some point in the fight, then one has the feeling that the challenger will not prevail in his maiden title shot.
Burnett can win a world title, but this seems to be a contest that just doesn’t suit a fighter that hasn’t experienced life in world class.
Giving up too much ground in the early going, barring a stoppage win for Burnett, he will fall short as he plays catch-up in the fights second half.
Burnett will cut the gap, but Haskins’ experience will prove decisive as he deters Burnett from gaining any serious momentum. To the disapproval of the Belfast crowd, Haskins will be declared the winner on all three scorecards.