A cracking Super Lightweight crossroads clash heads the latest Top Rank with the winner of the main event having their sights on a World Title shot in the ten stone division.
The vacant WBC Silver title is the prize, as Jose Zepeda (32-2, KO25) and Ivan Baranchyk (20-1, KO13) square off over ten rounds.
This meeting was set for early July, but Baranchyk suffered a training injury, meaning the fight was postponed.
Zepeda fought regardless, and had little trouble in a wide win on the cards against Kendo Castaneda. The 31-year-old was coming off one of his best career wins prior to this, when he handily outscored Jose Pedraza in September last year.
California-based Zepeda has twice before fought for World Title honours, without success. His first shot came in July 2015 against Manchester’s Terry Flanagan, with the vacant WBO Lightweight title on the line.
Zepeda sadly suffered a dislocated shoulder in the second round, and couldn’t continue at the Velodrome, retiring on his stool at the end of the session.
Seven straight wins and a move up in weight paved the way for a February 2019 WBC Super Lightweight title tilt against Jose Ramirez, but despite a spirited effort, he went down via majority decision.
Jose will want to put on a dominant display here, but it will be no easy task against a teak tough former World Champion.
Born in Russia, of Belarussian nationality, and based in Oklahoma, Ivan Baranchyk is a typical solid Eastern European fighter. A professional since 2014, he moved to the USA after his first three fights took place in Belarus.
18 straight wins gave him an entry into the World Boxing Super Series, and his quarter final with Sweden’s Anthony Yigit also doubled up as a vacant IBF World Title fight, which he grabbed with both hands.
Baranchyk damaged Yigit’s eye so severely that the contest had to be stopped after seven rounds in New Orleans on the advice of the doctor.
Ivan would have to travel to Scotland for his semi final, in what turned out to be a classic with Josh Taylor in May 2019.
After four evenly matched rounds, Baranchyk hurt Taylor in the fifth, but the Scot turned the tide in the very next round, flooring Ivan twice, with the Belarussian bravely rising both times.
The two fought to a thrilling finish, where Taylor handed Baranchyk his first career defeat with an unanimous points win.
He returned five months later in what was his last fight, stopping Gabriel Bracero in four rounds at Madison Square Garden.
Prediction: This is a tough one to call, and both carry power. In spite of this, I think the fight will go the distance, and it could come down to who boxes better rather than knockdowns.
I lean towards Zepeda, as Baranchyk can be crude at times, to take what could be a close points verdict.
Rising Lightweight contender, Gabriel Flores Junior (18-0, KO6) takes part in a ten round co-main event against ‘The Polish Prince’ Ryan Kielczweski (30-4, KO11).
20-year-old Flores is the youngest boxer to sign with Top Rank, and has steadily stepped up in opposition in his last few fights.
The 17-1 Matt Conway was dropped in the opener on the way to a wide eight round points win in February this year.
Last time out, Flores backed this up by dropping Josec Ruiz in the second round before pitching a shutout win over ten inside the Bubble back in June.
Kielczweski is a fringe contender at best, and usually comes up short when stepping up in class.
The Massachusetts man’s last defeat came in October 2018, when Tommy Coyle dropped him in the seventh on the way to a wide win on the cards.
He has only fought once since, a March 2019 eight round points win over Nick Otieno.