‘The Hitman’ Ricky Hatton has opened up on the upcoming Zhanat Zhakiyanov vs Ryan Burnett, a battle which will see his current charge pit himself against his former charge in the form of Ryan Burnett when they look to unify the IBF and WBA (Super) bantamweight division, this Saturday at the SSE Arena in Belfast, live on Sky Sports.
Few are better placed to pass judgement on the upcoming battle than Hatton, who comes to Belfast in the corner of Zhakiyanov while lining up against a man in Burnett who tasted his first experience of professional boxing under the guidance of Hatton. After a stuttering start to his professional career, Burnett decided it would be best to part company with Hatton after only 4 professional fights and instead choose to ply his trade under the stewardship of Adam Booth.
Reflecting on his time with Burnett, Hatton acknowledged that Ryan was correct to explore different avenues given his battles with his own personal demons at that moment in time; “I knew 100 percent that Ryan had the ability to go all the way when I was training him,” recalled Hatton. “I was having a lot of problems at the time, I wasn’t in a good place at all, and Ryan felt the training was better elsewhere.
Hatton further elaborated on those statements by stating “I wasn’t the trainer I am today. I understand why he left. There are no hard feelings. The Ricky Hatton of today is in a miles better place than the Ricky Hatton back then”.
Furthermore ‘The Hitman’ expressed his happiness at the fact Burnett went on to claim the IBF bantamweight world championship and shared he will always have a soft spot for Ryan but was adamant in his assertion that he doesn’t have enough in his locker to deny Zhakiyanov come Saturday night. “I text him before his World Title fight with Haskins to say good luck and text him straight after to say congratulations. I think the world of Ryan and his family. He’s a great lad and a wonderful talent but I don’t think he’s going to beat us on the night.
Hatton is of the opinion, that the stylistic matchup suits his man down to the ground as he feels his charge will too strong and relentless for Burnett “Ryan’s done everything asked of him so far but he’s going to have to show more than his talent in this one. If he doesn’t nail Zhanat to the canvas in the first few rounds he’s in for a very tough night”. But Hatton went on to explain that if he is proven wrong he would have no qualms congratulating the victor “if he doesn’t put Zhanat over in the first few then goes on to win, I’ll be the first one to shake his hand.
Hatton also touched on the prior meetings between the two combatants in sparring “They’ve sparred together and he probably just edged the sessions with those big gloves and head guard but times and circumstances change. Ryan’s in for a heap load of trouble once that bell goes.” Hatton detailed while Ryan did edge those sparring sessions, but he believes the head guards and the larger sparring gloves played a role in determining the effectiveness Zhakiyanov could have.