BOXING: Lee Haskins expects hostile reception in Belfast as he defends IBF World title against Ryan Burnett

Ryan Burnett
Ryan Burnett

Lee Haskins knows he will be entering the ‘lions den’ when he defends his IBF Bantamweight World title in the SSE Arena on Saturday night.

Haskins - a veteran of 37 fights - knows he will get a warm reception from Belfast fight fans but he is looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead.

“It’s going to be a hostile crowd but truthfully it doesn’t bother me. I’ve boxed away time and time again so I know what’s coming. I’ve boxed in Monaco, Belgium and Morocco and in plenty of backyards in the UK.

“It doesn’t bother me, a ring is a ring.

“I hope the Belfast fans don’t give me too much of a hard time!

“I’m really looking forward to fighting in front of such a knowledgeable crowd and of course to my own fans, I’m always grateful for your continued backing.

“I am very excited – I’m more excited for this one than I have been for a long, long time.

“I’m happy and content going into this fight and I’m looking forward to visiting Belfast.”

And Haskins says he will get the boat to Belfast rather than flying in for the clash.

“I’m not the greatest on planes so we chose to get the ferry over,” said Haskins.

“My family and I decided to go a bit earlier and make more of a trip about it.

“It’s not too far so it gives me and the kids a bit of time to catch-up and it’s something different, rather than just jumping off a plane straight into the hotel.

“Now we get to have a little detour and have a little adventure - but my full focus is on Saturday night and making sure I retain my IBFWorld title. I am not here for a holiday.”

Also on the bill Paul Hyland Jr faces Adam Dingsdale for his first professional title with the IBF European Lightweight strap on the line.

James Tennyson tackles Ryan Doyle for the WBA International Super-Featherweight belt, Ian Tims and Luke Watkins meet for the Irish Cruiserweight title, there’s the Cruiserweight debut of Mike Perez.

And local favourites Paddy Gallagher, Matthew Wilton, Feargal McCrory and Tyrone McCullagh will also feature.