So far 2019 has been a bit of a slow burner with big fights failing to deliver but this Weekend’s action has the potential to really get this year underway with a bang!
Starting at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow, Scotland we have two World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) semi-finals on the same bill that will really whet your appetite.
In the Junior Welterweight division, the newly crowned IBF champion Ivan Baranchyk (19-0, 12KOs) makes his first defence against Britain’s rising star Josh Taylor (14-0, 12KOs). The home crowd favourite finally gets his first crack at a major world title against the tough Belarusian that was born in Russia but resides in Miami, USA.
This fight has all the ingredients to be compelling and absorbing viewing for those watching at home and for the pro-Taylor crowd in attendance. Baranchyk overcame a southpaw in the quarterfinals and will be full of confidence that he can repeat that feat and retain his title on Saturday night;
“I am very confident of winning,” said Baranchyk. “I am going to beat Taylor by beating him again and again and then beating him some more.
“I know that Taylor is a talented fighter and that the fight is in his backyard, but I am looking forward to putting on a spectacular performance and defending my title. The boxing fans in Glasgow can expect me to beat up their hero.”
While the 26-year-old will be in confident mood he has not yet faced anyone that can compare to the skills that Taylor has at his disposal. Victories over Russian Petr Petrov and Anthony Yigit of Sweden were good scalps, but the high-flying Scotsman has already proven that he is a level above after just 14-professional fights.
‘The Beast’ as Baranchyk likes to be known has a combined opponent record of 168-47-13, which is pretty good reading especially considering that he has also fought ten opponents with undefeated records. To contest that, Taylor has a combined opponent record that is slightly better of 239-68-14 in less bouts and rounds completed. The 28-year-old also has the better knockout ration of 80 percent plus a 2-inch height and reach advantage which could make the difference depending on the challenger’s approach.
Taylor’s best victories came against Ohara Davies in 2017 who was an undefeated British prospect at the time and a former world champion at 140-pounds Viktor Postol in the summer of last year. In both fights Taylor showcased his excellent boxer-puncher skills and the ability to adapt when in a spot of bother. That adjustment was demonstrated when he got hurt by the Ukrainian in the seventh-round, although it did also identify chinks in Taylor’s armoury that the champion will look to exploit. The late addition by Baranchyk of Hall-of-fame coach Freddie Roach could assist his chances if he does decide to press Taylor but it could also hinder his chances if too many changes are made in such a short space of time.
There were two different sides shown in the Davies and Postal fights that will contribute to the outcome on Saturday night and that is how Taylor will react to a strong partisan crowd in full voice that will be completely behind the Scot. Will he thrive like against Davies or will he be nervous and tentative like against the ‘Iceman’?
Taylor said: “I’ve never felt so relaxed and confident heading into a fight. I’m ready to do the job.
“Baranchyk is strong, he comes forward but i see a lot of flaws in him, a lot of mistakes and I’m going to exploit him.
“I cannot wait to get in and fight him. Having the fans behind me will be great and it will lift me.
“The best man is going to win and it’s going to be me.”
As long as Taylor does not allow the occasion to overwhelm him or get involved in a war of attrition then Taylor should have more than enough ability to see off Baranchyk and claim the IBF strap in front of his adoring fans. If he decides to go hell for leather then the fight will be decided by mental and physical toughness which will make it a lot closer but a great watch for the fans.
Whoever does come through will face the WBA champion Regis Prograis (24-0, 20KOs) in the WBSS final for the right to be called a unified world champion which is set to take place in the summer of this year.
In the co-main event of the evening Japanese sensation and WBA Bantamweight Champion Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15KOs) takes on arguably the second best 118-pounder in the world and the IBF holder Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12KOs).
The Bantamweight division has four world class operators at the moment but unfortunately the other two stars [Ryan Burnett & Zolani Tete] have succumbed to injuries although veteran Nonito Donaire who awaits the winner in the final is a welcome addition.
At least we do get to see a mouthwatering fight between the slick and highly rated Puerto Rican Rodriguez and Inoue who is also known as ‘The Monster’ due to his concussive punching power. We will learn a lot more about both men come fight night but what ever happens the result will have huge significance on not only on the division but the pound-for-pound rankings to.
With the strong possibility that Josh Taylor can pick up a world title for Britain there is also a very good chance that Billy Joe Saunders (27-0, 13KOs) can become a two-weight world champion on the same night. The 29-year-old has had another one of those barren spells outside of the ring due to his own stupidity but he will fancy his chances against Shefat Isufi (27-3-2, 20KOs). With the opportunity of picking up the WBO Super-Middleweight title – which was vacated by Gilberto Ramirez because the Mexican decided to move up to the 175-pound division – A victory for Saunders would put him right back in the mix amongst the best in the division.
Although never a guarantee but a win at Stevenage Football Club, Lamex Stadium, could be the catalyst to guide the former middleweight champion onto massive fights this year and beyond.
Lastly, in the Heavyweight division WBC holder Deontay Wilder (40-0-1, 39KOs) puts his ‘Sophia’ on the line against fellow American compatriot Dominic Breazeale (20-1, 18KOs).
In the build-up Wilder has made some rather disgusting statements;
“This is the only sport where you can kill a man and get paid for it at the same time,” said Wilder. “It’s legal.”
“Dominic Breazeale asked for this. I didn’t go seek him. He [sought] me. So if it comes it comes. This is a brutal sport. This is not a gentleman sport.
“We don’t ask to hit each other in the face but we do anyway. And you can ask any doctor around the world, he will tell you, your head is not meant to be hit.
“On this particular time we have bad blood against each other. This is the only sport where you can kill a man and get paid for it at the same time. It’s legal. So why not use my right to do so?”
Those comments are bad for boxing but also shows the lengths that Wilder has to go to just to get publicity, no mater if that’s good or bad. If a British or Irish fighter made such disgraceful comments he or she would be fined heavily and severely warned, no question. It’s fair to say that Deontay ‘Halfwit’ Wilder is an olive short of a pizza, what a joke of a man!
Don’t forget to listen-in to the Talkin Boxing with Billy C Show this Sunday! Also don’t forget to subscribe, hit that like button & follow me on Twitter@JohnnoSE23