Ryan Burnett made history on Saturday night to come Northern Ireland’s unified bantamweight world champion in Belfast.
A slow start by the home fighter hampered his ability to gain a foothold as the strong and relentless Zhanat Zhakiyanov never took a backward step for the first six rounds.
As the Ricky Hatton-trained Kazakh slowed down in the middle of the contest, Burnett took over for the second half and claimed victory eight rounds to four on the WBN scorecard.
Not so with the judges in a familiar sight of late as two of the three somehow gave Burnett the win 119-109 and 118-110.
The final card of 116-112 mirrored that of WBN as Burnett added the WBA title to his IBF belt to become the number one in the division.
In the co-feature, Paul Hyland Jnr came out on top in a twelve-round battle with Stephen Ormond in what many saw as a highly controversial outcome.
‘The Rock’ Ormond seemed to get stronger as the fight went on and looked to have at least nicked a decision on the scorecards.
Not so, as cards came back reading 117-110 and 114-113 to Hyland, with only the third giving it 115-112 for Ormond to some considerable jeers from the knowledgeable crowd.
James Tennyson took the spoils in the end following a three-round Fight of the Night contender with Darren Traynor.
Both men went toe-to-toe for the eight minutes plus the contest lasted until Tennyson pulled out the equalizer at the end of the third.
Traynor stayed down for the full count as Tennyson recorded a 20th career win in the fringe WBA title scrap.
The furore surrounding Josh Kelly‘s progress continues to grow after yet another dazzling display by the talented 23 year-old.
Touted as a nailed-on world champion, Kelly bamboozled Jose Zuniga for a round before taking him out in the second to deserved adulation from the crowd.
The Sunderland man is now 4-0 and could be in the British title picture sooner rather than later at the rate Kelly is developing.
Anthony Fowler continued his progress with a six-round points win over a stubborn Laszlo Fazekas. ‘The Machine’ was given a good workout and overcame a cut from a head clash, all of which will stand the Liverpudlian in good stead for the future.
The super-welterweight won every round and is now set to fight at least one more time before the end of the year.
Gumshields literally flew as Tyrone McKenna fought out an entertaining victory over the much shorter super-lightweight Renald Garrido. The Northern Irishman was given a tough test by Garrido, who backed up his pre-fight antics with his performance in the ring.
Garrido came dressed in lion mask and crawled under the bottom rope in typical style and then fought like his namesake for the duration of the fight. As the pair scuffled on the inside and went back and forth in close rounds, their mouth pieces were ejected on no less than SEVEN occasions.
McKenna lost a point for his trouble, but eventually saw out a 96-94 triumph on the scorecards to improve to 15-0-1. For his part, the ever game Garrido drops to 19-17-2 and will sure be back on UK shores soon for sheer entertainment value alone.
David Oliver Joyce wasted no time making it four wins on the spin as a pro by blasting out Andy Harris in round one.
Talented lightweight Joe Fitzpatrick made it to 8-0 by winning in the sixth round against Mwenya Chisanga, before cruiserweight Tommy McCarthy made light work of Peter Hegyes in the opening session.
Lightweight Gary Cully began proceedings with a third round stoppage win over Josh Thorne to move his record to 2-0. whilst Craig Richards did likewise in his contest with Norbert Szekeres.
Richards can now boast a C.V of ten straight wins in the pro ranks.