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Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Champion Haskins looks a big price to retain his world title

Burnett under pressure to perform

IBF bantamweight champion Lee Haskins
1 of 1

IBF world bantamweight title
Sky Sports 2, from 8pm Saturday

Sky Sports have been banging on all week about this being a 50-50 fight, but that's not what the odds suggest. 

IBF world bantamweight champion Lee Haskins is going into the lion's den when he travels to Belfast's Odyssey Arena to make the third defence of his title against exciting young talent Ryan Burnett, and bookmakers have made the challenger a firm 1-3 favourite. 

There are a few reasons why. Burnett is a talented, undefeated fighter who has been compared to world featherweight king and fellow Northern Irishman Carl Frampton. 

Time will tell if that comparison is fair but it's certain that, just like the Jackal, Burnett will get the full support of his extremely vocal and passionate hometown fans. 

However, that brings with it its own set of pressures. Burnett has never had so much weight of expectation on his shoulders and this is his first time as a headline act. With only 16 pro fights under his belt he may lack the experience to deal with the occasion. 

No one is suggesting Haskins is the greatest world champ to pull on a pair of gloves, but experience is not something he lacks. He is comfortable as an away fighter and says he cannot wait to hear the atmosphere on Saturday, despite knowing he will get a hostile reception. 

As an 11-4 underdog Haskins is expected to lose his title, and another reason he is such a big price is his poor performance in his last fight, when many thought he was fortunate to get the decision over Stuart Hall. 

He blamed that on a lack of motivation to beat a fighter he already had a win against, but he looks well up for the challenge he faces in Belfast and is full of confidence.

Haskins has lost only once in the last ten years, and even if Burnett has the ability to beat him he is unlikely to find it easy.

The fight could go either way, but it looks closer than the odds suggest so Haskins has to be the value.

L Haskins 
1pt 11-4 general

Haskins has lost only once in the last ten years, and even if Burnett has the ability to beat him he is unlikely to find it easy
E.W. Terms
Sky bet