Peter Wells gives his official Ryan Burnett vs Zhanat Zhakiyanov prediction and preview ahead of tonight’s fight.

Not many fighters will take on a tougher challenge in their maiden defence than Ryan Burnett 17-0(9KO’s) will this Saturday night in Northern Ireland.

The young Belfast man looks to double his world championship tally tonight at the SSE Arena, just 4 months after claiming Lee Haskins’ IBF Bantamweight title in dominant 12-round fashion.

Now he takes on Ricky Hatton trained WBA Bantamweight champion, Zhanat Zhakiyanov 27-1(18KO’s).

The Kazakh too is making a first defence of his crown in a much anticipated unification clash. He will need to draw from a shock win over amateur star Rau’shee Warren in February.

Zhakiyanov is likely to set a high tempo from the start, and will give Burnett little time to find his rhythm that bemused a well-beaten Haskins.

Zhanat can force Burnett onto the back foot early, but by the midway point, the home favourite will begin to pick his punches with fine accuracy.

Burnett can separate himself in the second half of the contest, but Zhakiyanov will stay competitive throughout.

The visitor could score a knockdown early, but that will not be enough to avoid a close but fair points defeat to the improving Burnett.