Ryan Burnett stunned Lee Haskins to became Northern Ireland’s first world bantamweight champion in 20 years on Saturday.
It wasn’t without controversy though, as the Northern Irish superstar had to settle for a highly questionable split points decision despite dominating the bout start to finish.
Promoter Eddie Hearn went on record, stating that the judge who scored Haskins as the winner must have got the two identities of the boxers confused.
Burnett twice dropped Haskins and was in supreme control throughout the contest. Yet in spite of this, American official Clark Sammartino somehow managed to score the fight 118-108 to Haskins whilst the other two judges returned scores of 119-107 and 119-107 in the Northern Irish man’s favour.
It was objectively clear that Burnett deserved a unanimous decision. Still, the overall result was not affected. Haskin’s won the IBF title in only his 17th paid fight in front of his home crowd at the SSE Arena in Belfast.
Still, the overall result was not affected. Burnett won the IBF title in only his 17th paid fight and did so in front of his home crowd at the SSE Arena in Belfast.
Hearn, clearly baffled by the scoring of Sammartino declared, “his scorecard was excellent: it was just the wrong way around.”
Also unimpressed by the poor scoring was Robert Smith, secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control.
Smith was clearly angered by the judging and was quick to let his voice heard.
Addressing Clark Sammartino directly, Smith stated that “he will not be coming back to this country and I will be telling the IBF that on Monday.”
“There was only one winner. It was a good fight and it kind of ruins it. It was the wrong decision.”
Although most observers objectively scored the bout in favour of Burnett, both fighters were badly cut from a clash of heads.
Despite appearing to come away the worst from a clash of heads. Burnett remained calm and composed throughout. The Belfast-born fighter was quick and composed, going on to floor Haskins with his right hand in both the sixth and eleventh rounds.
Burnett is now in the rarefied company of Northern Irish sporting greats.
He’s Northern Ireland’s first world bantamweight champion since the legendary Wayne McCullough held the belt way back in January 1997.
Where does he go from here? With Adam Booth in his corner, it appears that the sky’s the limit for Burnett.