Boxing Fight Weekend: What to watch, picks for Oct. 3

Kevin Iole
·Combat columnist
·3 mins read

Virtually everything that could go wrong for Ivan Baranchyk before and during his bout against Josh Taylor in the World Boxing Super Series’ super lightweight tournament on May 18, 2019, did.

The tournament was having financial difficulties and it wasn’t clear until a month before the bout whether it would go forward. Baranchyk had to travel to Glasgow, Scotland, where tens of thousands of rabid Taylor fans showed up to support their man.

And he made the trip without his long-time trainer, Pedro Diaz.

He was dropped twice and lost a unanimous decision, his first (and only) loss of his career.

But his promoter, Lou DiBella, saw a lot of good in spite of the defeat.

“He showed he can push through significant adversity and a s---ty camp and still perform at a high level,” DiBella said of Baranchyk, who on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas will face Jose Zepeda in what should be an outstanding bout.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 05:  Ivan Baranchyk (L) punches Gabriel Bracero during their Super Lightweight Bout at Madison Square Garden on October 05, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Ivan Baranchyk punches Gabriel Bracero during their Super Lightweight Bout at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 5, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

Even though he briefly held the IBF title before losing it to Taylor, Baranchyk is not widely known in boxing beyond its hardcore fan base.

It’s a shame because this is a guy who, under other circumstances, could be a highly popular attraction. He’s talented and aggressive and always comes to fight.

“He’s the most exciting guy in the whole 140-pound division,” DiBella said. “I really do think he’s a beast. He punches like a mule. He’s more skilled than people give him credit for and he’s a top-level guy.

“Boxing has changed so much, but if he had the proper backing and this were the old days where there was an open marketplace, oh [my]. He’s the kind of guy who is a highly skilled version of [an Arturo] Gatti, [Micky] Ward kind of a guy.”

That’s high praise coming from someone like DiBella, who holds Gatti and Ward in the highest esteem and usually speaks of them in almost reverential terms.

There is no major title at stake, but it’s one of those fights that has the potential to make you into a boxing fan if you happen to stumble across it.

DiBella said he believed boxing needed more of these type of fights, particularly as it loses fans to the UFC.

“If I’m right, if all the people who know who are real boxing fans and believe this is a terrific matchup, if they’re right, it’s going to create somebody who means something,” he said. “We need all of these kinds of fights. In fairness, you don’t see a lot of no-hopers fighting in UFC shows. There just aren’t.

“And believe me, from my personal betting experience, underdogs win in the UFC, because they sit in a room and they try to make even matches. That’s what this fight is and I’m happy to say I’m a small part of doing that in the next few months.”

Magsayo on path toward top

Filipino Mark Magsayo will headline a show on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, FS1) at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles when he takes on Rigoberto Hermosillo in a 10-rounder.

Magsayo is 20-0 with 14 knockouts and is ranked fourth by the IBF and WBC and 14th by the WBA at featherweight.

This is his first bout of 2020, though he was 2-0 in 2019. On April 12, 2019, he knocked out an opponent with perhaps the best name ever given to a fighter: Erick Deztroyer.

So maybe Magsayo could use that as justification to change his nickname from “Magnifico” to “The Destroyer.”

Kevin’s picks

  • Ivan Baranchyk to win over Jose Zepeda.

  • Gabriel Flores to win by TKO over Ryan Kielczweski.

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