Burnett to defend WBA belt on Joshua bill

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Burnett to defend WBA belt on Joshua bill

Ryan Burnett (left) is declared the winner after beating Zhanat Zhakiyanov on a unanimous points decision in Belfast last October

Ryan Burnett will defend his WBA bantamweight belt on the 31 March bill in Cardiff headlined by Anthony Joshua’s contest with Joseph Parker.

Belfast fighter Burnett, 25, will take on Venezuelan Yonfrez Parejo after opting to vacate his IBF title belt.

Burnett won the IBF belt by outclassing England’s Lee Haskins last June before beating Kazakhstan’s Zhanat Zhakiyanov to land the WBA title in October.

“I’m delighted to be added to this show,” said Burnett.

“It’s going to be an incredible experience to defend my world title in front of 80,000 in Cardiff.

“We knew that when we faced Zhakiyanov that it was likely we may have to vacate one of the belts because of mandatories but I’ve unified the division and now we move on to new challenges.”

Burnett’s promoter Eddie Hearn said that the cancellation of a planned IBF interim title fight between Haskins and Puerto Rico’s Emmanuel Rodriguez meant the Northern Irishman was left with no option but to give up the IBF belt.

“Last week we were notified that that bout would no longer take place and that Rodriguez’s team were not willing to negotiate and they called immediate purse bids,” added Hearn.

“Our deal was already in place with Parejo so we will vacate our IBF title and continue to face our WBA mandatory.”

Burnett says he is expecting a “tough fight” against the 31-year-old Venezuelan who has a career record of 21 wins, one draw and two defeats.

One of Parejo’s defeats came against Zhakiyanov in November 2015 when he lost a split decision in a WBA interim bantamweight contest.

Since then Parejo has won four straight contests including his most recent knockout victory over Colombia’s Elkin Rosario last September.

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Source: BBC SPORT NI

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