Burnett lands world title on 'special' night
Ryan Burnett claimed the IBF World bantamweight crown after producing a masterclass to defeat defending champion Lee Haskins via a farcical split decision in Belfast.
The Northern Irishman, already being billed as the long-term successor to Carl Frampton, responded to the significant step up in class with the finest performance of his career.
The only blemish at the Odyssey Arena came when American judge Clark Sammartino inexplicably scored it for Haskins - apparently in a case of mistaken identity.
Maintaining a consistent sharpness and work-rate, Burnett convincingly outboxed the proven 33-year-old, scoring throughout with both the jab and right hand.
An accidental clash of heads in the second cut each fighter over the right eye, prompting further questions about the Haskins' greater experience, but Burnett used his speed and accuracy to keep out of further trouble.
A classy right hand at the start of the fourth hurt the defending champion and another big right in the sixth sent Haskins to the canvas.
It took until the 10th before he again appeared at risk. But, then, after taking a left in the 11th, Burnett responded with an assault to the body and a left-right combination that sent Haskins down again.
When he returned to his feet, the aggressive Burnett sought the knockout victory he was denied only by the bell, with the champion defenceless by the ropes.
"It's something special. I'm in a position now where I can go on and give myself and my family a good life, said the 25-year-old, who is coached by Adam Booth.
"I haven't been home in two and a half months. I just want to go home."