ZHANAT ZHAKIYANOV says he’ll be showing off some new skills when he returns to action at the Holiday Inn in Belfast on June 28.
The Kazakhstani puncher began working under the stewardship of trainer Ricky Hatton just a month ago, but he believes his ability has moved to a new level in that short time.
Zhanat, who is the number one ranked super-bantamweight contender in Europe, had largely trained by himself or with family members in his native country.
“Ricky makes me think more in the ring,” the 25-year-old said via a translator. “Before I was like a bull and used to think one hard punch was enough, but Ricky makes me relax, move and defend better.
“I used to train with my brother or on my own in Kazakhstan and we never did any of the exercises I do now so I am learning new things every day.
“I hope to show everyone what I’ve picked up in this next fight and then move to bigger and harder fights later in the year.”
Zhanat has been signed to Hatton Promotions since 2011 and has appeared on cards in Blackpool and Hong Kong, but he still has trouble explaining his connection with ‘The Hitman’ to his fans back home.
“People in my country do not believe me when I tell them Ricky Hatton is training me,” he explained. “I have to show them pictures and videos to prove it and they are like ‘wow’.
“I know I am very lucky to be working with Ricky because in Kazakhstan and all of the former Soviet countries he is a hero. People admire him because of his career and because he beat Kostya Tszyu, who was also a hero.”