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Josh Taylor is the Real Deal But Will Have His Hands Full Against Baranchyk

Matt McGrain




To properly understand the mindset of the British boxing promoter, one could do worse than to heed the recent words of legendary fight-maker Frank Warren.

“The fighters made the fight,” he remarked off-handily of the forthcoming clash between British heavyweight prospects Daniel Dubois and Nathan Gorman. “Neither one of them would pull out.”

While it might be the logical thinking of anyone holding only a passing familiarity with the boxing industry that it is the job of fight promoters to make the fights that the public want to see, in the United Kingdom, oftentimes nothing is further from the truth. The job of the British fight promoter is essentially to identify talent and enrich it and in the course of enriching it, enrich himself.

The approach taken by Josh Taylor and his embattled promoter Barry McGuigan can be seen to be refreshing, then. In entering the WBSS 140lb tournament Taylor knew that before he had amassed fifteen fights he would, at some point, be called upon to put it all on the line. That time has come as the Edinburgh born Scotsman (pictured on the right in this simulation) prepares to match Belarusian Ivan Baranchyk (19-0) in the semi-final of that tournament this coming Saturday at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow. At stake is an alphabet strap, but more pertinently, a chance to fight and emerge victorious and then win the final of the tournament, a feat which would see a new 140lb king legitimized and promised a seat at the pound-for-pound table.

For now, the significant matter of Taylor-Baranchyk, a clash between the second and seventh best light-welterweights in the business according to TBRB.

Baranchyk’s nickname, “The Beast” seemed promotionally optimistic until last March when he stepped out of the shadowy world of eight-rounders staged in Oklahoma (he had long since departed his short-lived Minsk stronghold) and stepped in with the legitimately dangerous and formerly ranked Petr Petrov. Baranchyk swept Petrov before him, dropping him three times and brutalizing him along the ropes, forcing the referee’s intervention.

He was even more impressive in dispatching unbeaten southpaw Anthony Yigit later that year in the quarter finals of the 140lbs WBSS. This tournament excelled in shining a light on unfashionable but talented fighters and the meeting between Baranchyk and Yigit was a superb example. Yigit is a talented, quick-handed fighter who had every reason to believe his own talent could carry him to the semi-finals and beyond, but in Baranchyk he was presented with a difficult foil.

Aggressive and rough, Baranchyk dominated his undefeated opponent with two-handed bursts, and the expert roughhousing of a much more storied professional. But he is no thug. Defense-splitting lead-uppercuts are punctuated by his own impressive dipping defense; Baranchyk, big at the weight, broad and strong in appearance, does not seem to love these evasive maneuvers though. His heart is in firing back and his legs, for all that he can use them for mobility, are in pressure. Hit him, he hits you. Look for him, you will find him.

Whether by way of skillful punch-picking, swarming aggression, or dark-arts, Barnchyk had already marked up Yigit’s left eye by the end of the second. In the third he deployed a merciless body attack.  Baranchyk strayed low; Yigit waved him in but after seven torrid rounds, he was pulled by the ringside doctor, his left eye by then grotesquely swollen shut. He had not won a round on my card.

I was left with the impression that Yigit, the recipient of forearms to the back of the head, rabbit-punches to the back of the head, a low blow, as well as numerous well-executed punches to head and body, was physically incapable of coping with the ceaseless offense that Baranchyk has at his disposal.

Josh Taylor then, has his hands full.

I have described Taylor on these pages as “absolutely real.” Readers will hopefully forgive the sweeping yet indistinct nature of the statement in light of the fact that Scotland has never had such a fighter during my adult lifetime and that, as a Scotsman, this is an exciting truth. Ricky Burns was better than he is now generally given credit for and carried a heart as big as any modern pugilist, Scott Harrison carried a belt but was ravaged by the hardly unique yet all too commonly Scottish failing of savage indiscipline; Taylor shows none of these proclivities. He is a boxer that impresses other fighters with his ceaseless energy; he is addicted to shadow-boxing rather than alcohol and has a rare and unbridled sporting ambition which has brought him to the edge of stardom.

He also has technical ability far in excess of any seen on these shores since the heyday of the great lightweight Ken Buchanan, a comparison which is being made less and less quietly.

While he was being torn to pieces, Yigit proved that Baranchyk could be hit. He has too much width on his swarming – though timed – attacks for it to be otherwise. Taylor, on the other hand, is packed as tight as a drum. Sweeping shots, including a picture-perfect left hook, are not eschewed during his smooth, angled attacks, but he goes straight-down the middle as suddenly and as well as any fighter not named Lomachenko. This is a huge boon against a fighter like Baranchyk, and although he will not walk into the Scotsman’s shots, he is available for excellent punches. Taylor will likely look to move, to keep the Belarusian off him early, before, if necessary, descending into the dangers of the pocket in an attempt to repel Baranchyk’s mauling pressure with cleaner punches.

Furthermore, although Baranchyk thrived upon the deepening chaos that surrounded Yigit, he looked fatigued by the end of the seventh round. Taylor’s engine is proven; the accompanying and inevitable gut-check at high-octane pace is perhaps the final test before Taylor, should he be victorious, meets the legitimately world-class Regis Prograis in the final. That is a Fight of the Year contender in the making.

“I have seen a lot that I can exploit,” he told Boxing Social of Baranchyk earlier this week. “He’s very tough, he applies the pressure and he lets his hand go with venom in every shot. I’m expecting a tough fight, especially early on…but it’ll take a very special fighter to beat me.”

Taylor has properly appraised his opponent and has also predicted a stoppage. It would be foolish, not to mention unpatriotic of me to disagree with him.

Chief support is provided by a fighter who has already reached the heights Taylor hopes to reach: The Monster, Naoya Inoue, boxes in his own WBSS semi-final against Emmanuel Rodriguez, the world’s number six bantamweight. Taylor-Barnachyk promises a grueling, excellent fight, but it is possible the main-event will be blown away by the penultimate contest.

Whatever the detail, and it is not often I get to say this, the fight world’s capital this coming Saturday is Glasgow.

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Looking at the Heavyweight Calendar (Odds Review)

Miguel Iturrate



Joshua vs Ruiz

This past Saturday night saw Deontay Wilder’s WBC world heavyweight title defense against Dominic Breazeale go down on Showtime. The fight lasted just 137 seconds as Wilder floored Breazeale with a cannonball of a right hand to end the night early.

With Wilder out of the way, Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz Jr is up next. They meet June 1st at Madison Square Garden. Two weeks later, on the 15th of June, ESPN+ will deliver Tyson Fury vs Tom Schwarz, so fight fans will get a look at all three members of the “Big Three” all in a month’s time.

Wilder’s erasure of Breazeale this past weekend sent a message to the rest of the division as well as giving him a highlight reel to show during upcoming negotiations. Wilder entered a strong -1000 favorite at the sportsbooks for this fight.

Check out our pre-fight review of the Wilder vs Breazeale odds right here at TSS –

Looking forward, the odds posted for Joshua and Fury’s upcoming tussles are even less competitive. Let’s take a look at what the books are giving us as we await the two big Brits fighting in the USA.

Madison Square Garden – New York City – Saturday, June 1, 2019

Heavyweight 12 rounds –

Andy Ruiz Jr +1500 Over 6½ +100

Anthony Joshua -3000 Under 6½ -130

Ruiz Jr is 32-1 overall with his lone loss coming at the hands of Joseph Parker in a failed WBO world title bid. That same WBO belt is now in the hands of Joshua as are the WBA and IBF belts.

Joshua was a big favorite over Jarrell Miller, his original opponent, who was denied a license in New York after testing positive for a buffet of steroids. Ruiz Jr took the fight with less than a full training camp, but you have to believe that he is going to come in highly motivated. Ruiz Jr has been caught at a different type of buffet, the all-you-can-eat kind, but even when in the best of shape his body type isn’t “poster boy material.” Miller was big and bulky as well, but he was a near 300 pounder whereas Ruiz Jr will come in between 250 and 260 pounds, which is right around Joshua’s size. Rather than slaying a 300-pound giant, he is facing a guy who is shorter and fatter than him, making it very hard for Joshua to look great on paper.

At +1500 will people bite on Ruiz Jr? He is more experienced than Miller and he is probably a better fighter overall and though he is facing a formidable champion, Joshua is not a finished product. Perhaps Joshua will be chasing an early finish, feeling the pressure of Wilder’s performance, and if so will he make a mistake that Ruiz can exploit? We are roughly 10 days from finding out.

MGM Grand Garden – Las Vegas, Nevada – Saturday, June 15, 2019

Heavyweight 12 rounds –

Tom Schwarz +1800 Over 9½ -105

Tyson Fury -3600 Under 9½ -125

Tyson Fury closes out the run of top heavyweights with a very deliberately chosen showcase fight against Tom Schwarz. Schwarz is 24 years old and 24-0 but he is a fighter who has come up on the regional German scene and as the old boxing cliche goes, there are levels to this game.

Former contender David Haye mounted a 2016 comeback, booking fights against Mark De Mori (30-1-2) and Arnold Gjergjaj (29-0). It took Haye precisely 6:42 to dispose of both of them, and though Fury is a completely different beast than Haye, the level difference between he and Schwarz may be even as striking.

Wilder has gotten through his “challenge” and if Fury and Joshua also emerge as winners as expected, it will leave several open questions –

– Will Fury vs Wilder 2 happen first, or will Wilder vs Joshua go down first? Could Joshua and Fury meet and freeze Wilder out?


– Will we see any of these fights take place in 2019?

If Joshua or Fury stumble, it will only add to the chaos in the heavyweight division. But if the professional oddsmakers know anything, it isn’t likely to happen.

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Three Punch Combo: An Early Look at Inoue-Donaire and Under the Radar Fights

Matt Andrzejewski



Inoue vs Donaire

THREE PUNCH COMBO — This past Saturday, Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16 KO’s) punched his ticket to the bantamweight final in the World Boxing Super Series when he impressively knocked out Emmanuel Rodriguez in the second round of their scheduled 12-round fight. The win sets up a showdown with veteran Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26 KO’s) who punched his ticket to the final with an impressive knockout of Stephon Young last month.

As expected, Inoue has opened as a monstrous favorite in the betting markets. While this suggests a one-sided wipeout, I have some other thoughts.

Inoue is pound for pound one of, if not the, hardest puncher in the sport today and put that power on full display in his destruction of Rodriguez in the semi-finals. But having enormous power does not make him indestructible.

In watching that fight against Rodriguez, there were clearly flaws on display on the defensive side of Inoue’s game. For one, Inoue does not move his head at all and as such can be hit. Rodriguez landed several clean punches on Inoue in the first round. And Inoue frequently keeps his hands low looking to bait opponents into throwing to set up counter opportunities. It has worked so far but could be something he pays for down the road.

Donaire is a smart and skilled fighter and though he is 36, his last few fights have shown that he still has plenty left in the tank. Moreover, he possesses one thunderous left hook and has always been at his best when fighting below 122. He has all the capabilities to expose Inoue’s flaws and a left hook that can alter the course of a fight as we have seen him doing plenty of times in the past.

Unlike a lot of people, I do not consider Donaire to be another layup for Inoue. There is real danger in this fight for Inoue if he does not make changes to his game. Donaire has starched big punching rising stars before and I would not discount his chances to expose the significant defensive flaws in Inoue’s game.

 Under The Radar Fight

Boxing returns to ESPN on Saturday with a card from Kissimmee, FL headlined by 130- pound champion Masayuki Ito (25-1-1, 13 KO’s) who is making the second defense of his title against former US Olympian Jamel Herring (19-2, 10 KO’s). While I think this should be an excellent fight, the co-feature, which is flying deep under the radar, should be even better.

In this fight, former two division world champion Jose Pedraza (25-2, 12 KO’s) makes his return to the ring after losing his lightweight title to Vasiliy Lomachenko in December to face Antonio Lozada (40-2-1, 34 KO’s). Given their respective styles, this fight at the very least will provide plenty of sustained action.

Appropriately nicknamed “The Sniper,” Pedraza at his best is a precision puncher. A boxer-puncher by trade, he uses subtle movement inside the ring to create angles that are used to land sharp power shots on his opposition. He is also a very good inside fighter and will shift around on the inside to once again set up just the right angle to land his power shots with maximum efficiency. But despite being a good inside fighter, Pedraza has a tendency to stay in the pocket a bit too long which leaves him open to getting hit.

Lozada is best known for his upset TKO win against one-time blue-chip prospect Felix Verdejo in March of 2018. However, he failed to build momentum off that win and is coming off a lackluster split draw his last time out to 12-7-1 journeyman Hector Ruben Ambriz Suarez.

Lozada certainly does not have the technical proficiency of Pedraza. He is slow and plodding. But what he does bring to the table is relentless pressure combined with a high volume of punches. He will press forward, recklessly at times, winging punches consistently hoping to wear down his opposition through attrition.  As such, he tends to get hit a lot and can be involved in shootouts.

Cleary, Pedraza is the more skilled fighter, but given Lozada’s all-offensive mindset as well as Pedraza’s willingness to stay in the pocket, the leather is all but guaranteed to be flying from the opening bell. Neither are big punchers either so I suspect we see a fight that goes rounds providing many exciting exchanges and one that could certainly steal the show on Saturday.

Another Under The Radar Fight

Also on Saturday, Fox Sports 1 will televise a card from Biloxi, MS featuring a crossroads fight between former 154-pound champion Austin Trout (31-5, 17 KO’s) and former US Olympian Terrell Gausha (21-1, 10 KO’s). But it is another 154-pound fight on the undercard that is receiving almost no coverage that I want to highlight. It pits Chordale Booker (14-0, 7 KO’s) against Wale Omotoso (27-3, 21 KO’s).

Booker turned pro in 2016 after a successful amateur career and has kept up a fairly busy schedule. He is coming off a dominating 8-round unanimous decision over veteran Juan De Angel in January and now is taking a big jump up in his caliber of opposition in facing Omotoso.

Booker, a southpaw, likes to press forward behind a stinging right jab. He possesses elite level hand speed and likes to use that jab to set up quick power punching combinations. Booker is also an excellent counter puncher and possesses a very potent right hook coming from that southpaw stance. He will often hold his left low to bait his opponents into opening up to set up counter opportunities. However, he has also been clipped by his share of left hooks fighting in this manner and this is something he will need to tighten up against Omotoso. So just how will Booker respond to Omotoso’s pressure and heavy handed body attack? Depending on the answer, we will either see Booker step up to the next level or get exposed. And that’s what makes this fight so intriguing to me

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Serhii Bohachuk KOs Mexico’s Freddy Hernandez in Hollywood

David A. Avila



in Hollywood

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.-Super welterweight prospect Serhii Bohachuk got his first taste of upper tier boxing from Mexico’s Freddy Hernandez and gave him his best Sunday punch to win by knockout.

Bohachuk (14-0, 14 KOs) showed the excited Hollywood crowd he’s more than ready for former world title challengers like Hernandez (34-11, 22 KOs) or maybe even the current contenders with an exuberant display of pressure fighting at the Avalon Theater.

The smiling Ukrainian fighter has been steadily attracting fans to the 360 Promotions fight cards.

Trained by Abel Sanchez, the lanky and pale Bohachuk – whose nickname “El Flaco” fits perfectly – always moved forward against Mexico City’s Hernandez who has made a reputation of being crafty despite the strength of competition. With Bohachuk constantly applying pressure the Mexican fighter used the first round to touch and feel his way around the Ukrainian bomber.

In the second round a sharp counter right floored Hernandez who quickly got up and resumed the contest. It looked like the end was near until Hernandez caught Bohachuk with a solid right cross. It was a warning shot well heeded by Bohachuk.

Both fighters exchanged vigorously in the third round with the Ukrainian fighter’s youth a definite advantage. Hernandez was able to display his fighting tools more effectively in the third round but could it be enough?

Bohachuk was clearly the heavier-handed fighter but was finding it difficult to connect solidly against the Mexican veteran. But in the fifth round Bohachuk lowered his gun sights and targeted the body with a left hook that dropped Hernandez.  The fight was stopped by referee Wayne Hedgepeth at 1:40 of the fifth round.

Other Bouts

A battle of super featherweights saw Rialto, California’s Adrian Corona (5-0) rally from behind to defeat Florida’s Canton Miller (3-3-1) by split decision after six rounds.

Corona had problems with Miller’s speed in the first two rounds and was unable to track the moving fighter’s direction. But in the third round Corona began to apply more aggressive measures against Miller and was especially effective with lead rights. The momentum changed quickly.

Miller switched from orthodox to southpaw and it served to pause Corona’s momentum, but he seldom scored with solid blows. Though Miller landed quick soft blows, Corona was landing with strong shots and convinced two of the three judges that he was the winner by 58-56 twice. A third judge saw Miller the victor by the same score 58-56.

“It’s not my job to judge the judges,” said Miller. “It’s my job to just fight.”

Corona was happy with the victory.

“I could have put the pressure on him a little more,” said Corona. “It was a very technical fight and he put on a great fight.”

Other Bouts

George Navarro (6-0-1, 2 KOs) knocked out Cesar Sustaita (3-5) with a perfect overhand right that disabled the senses and forced referee Raul Caiz Jr. to halt the fight at 1:37 of the first round.

“I worked hard to prepare for this fight,” said Navarro.

A super bantamweight clash saw Humberto Rubalcava (10-1, 7 KOs) knock out Daniel Constantino (3-3-2) and win by knockout after a flurry of a dozen blows went unanswered. Referee Angel Mendez stopped the battering at 1:39 of the first round.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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