Two for the show - Josh Taylor vs. Ivan Baranchyk

Allan Cerf and John J. Raspanti run down this intriguing matchup – and worry about judging


Particulars: On May 18, 2019 from Glasgow, Scotland (DAZN) it’s The World Boxing Super Series super lightweight semi-final: Josh “The Tartan Tornado” Taylor vs. Ivan “The Beast” Baranchyk.

Background: I can only shake my head at Josh Taylor.  The 28-year-old Scot had good success as an amateur culminating in acclaim if not medaling at the 2012 Olympics. The southpaw waited three years to turn pro and has just 14 fights.  He’s being brought along much too slowly – period.


Taylor is a good boxer but to say, as some have, he’s Scotland’s heir to Ken Buchanan, a man Roberto Duran says was better than Ray Leonard – WHAT?  Remember, many feel Buchanan would surely have beaten Duran but for an obviously bent ref.  No disrespect to Taylor, yes, they’re both Scots, but there comparisons end. Taylor picked up a gold medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games representing Scotland. 


A year later, he went pro at the ripe old age of 25. Taylor captured the British Empire Super Lightweight title in his seventh fight, and something called the WBC Super Silver title three bouts later. The way they give out titles these days!  


In 2018, he faced the biggest challenge of his professional career when he fought former champion Victor Postol in Glasgow. The fight was tight and competitive throughout, with Postol appearing to stun Taylor a few times in the early going. Taylor did well in the later rounds, flooring Postol, as the 34-year-old was feeling his oats and left himself open. The scoring (one judge had Taylor winning 11 out of 12 rounds) was ridiculous - proving that to defeat Taylor in Glasgow is akin to a Yank surviving a fight at a local pub. Not bloody likely.


Taylor debuted in the World Boxing Super Series five months later by dominating American Ryan Martin. He was crisp and efficient. Taylor has blitzed 12 of his 14 opponents. He packs some pop. For all that, you have to wonder if the snail’s pace of Taylor’s pro career means his brain trust know about significant flaws affecting his game?  Hard to say. Footage reveal him as a clever boxer with very solid fundamentals.  He throws a good southpaw lead left and has a great uppercut.  Fine, but we need to see more.


Ivan Baranchyk was born in Amursk Russia, but is a Belarus citizen.  Requests to his team for an interview in Russian or English went unreturned, so I can’t ask him why he left the immense expanses of Russia to settle 6000 miles away.  Or why on earth he resettled in a placed called “Miami, Oklahoma.” The non-interview is vexing because Baranchyk is another Eastern European with the amazing gift of languages – and has swiftly learned passable Angliski.  


Had we chatted, Maxboxing would have asked Ivan more about his self-training: Reportedly, when entering the gym, age 12, he discovered his trainer was fonder of booze than boxing and incredibly, largely trained himself.  This led to him relying on innate talents – quickness and power.  It also led to the habit of keeping himself at arm’s length from opponents where his punches will do the most damage. He’s there to be hit as well.


As an amateur, Baranchyk had signature wins against some of the world’s best, but his 120-30 record is solid rather than glittering.  The pro game of course, is vastly different and Baranchyk has had far too few tilts for a man who recently turned 26. My guess is that Baranchyk’s brain trust wants to continue to build his record with gradually better comp – and entice a signing with one of the big outlets while still undefeated.  Also, his KO percentage has dropped steeply as the quality of his opponents has risen. 


Baranchyk certainly swings left and right hooks as if he was a KO artist, but a 63.5% ratio doesn’t bear that out. He throws a lot of jabs but seems to use the stick mainly as a rangefinder. The Belorussian is not really a counterpuncher - nor a pot-shotter.  Baranchyk seems to swap jabs at distance before exploding with heavy hooks from both sides to dominate sequences of a round. His best punch by far is a hybrid right; not arrow straight like Koysta Tszyu, but not a classic overhand right ala Riddick Bowe – the kind that leaves one susceptible to counters.  His version falls somewhere in between. 


Fighter’s Grades: (Speed, Power, Defense, Reach, Age, Stamina, Experience)


Josh Taylor: B B B C+ B- B B- (Average of all) B- (2.8)


Ivan Baranchyk: B B B- B- B B B (Average of all) B- (2.9)


Reality check: Versus Baranchyk, Taylor, who will enter the ring as at least a 5-1 favorite, brings better fundamentals and is both taller and longer. To my eyes, he hits a little harder, too, though I feel Baranchyk is quicker.  Experience – probably – goes to the Scot.  Baranchyk has been there to be hit and stationing himself at fist’s end will ensure he’s hit even more against a taller, longer opponent. But if one of these two is being coddled, I’d say Taylor.  Loser leaves, if not town – the upper rankings of the division, so the bout is an important milestone.


Fight and Prediction: There is no possible way Baranchyk can get a fair shake in Scotland given horrendous judging in the UK in recent years.  I see some good exchanges with Taylor’s reach and height enough to give him a close earned UD in a fight with the potential to be a bad style matchup for fans.  Notice my emphasis on the word ‘earned’ – it would be a shame if Baranchyk wins clearly – but doesn’t get the decision.


Josh Taylor UD Ivan Baranchyk, 12.


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