Josh Taylor saw off a determined assault from Ivan Baranchyk in Glasgow, unanimously outpointing the Belarussian to become the new IBF light-welterweight champion.
In a spirited slugfest where neither fighter was inclined to take a backward step, Baranchyk started in characteristically relentless fashion and appeared to land the marginally more destructive blows of the pair.
Nevertheless, Taylor consistently held his ground and returned fire in exchanges that invariably brought the capacity crowd at the SSE Arena to their feet.
However, Baranchyk’s obstinate approach threatened to pay dividends in the fifth round somewhat when he found the mark on multiple occasions, opening up several cuts on the face of his Scottish counterpart and briefly stinging him with a right uppercut.
There was another dramatic shift in momentum in the sixth round, however, when in coiling up a ‘Hail Mary’ haymaker, Baranchyk was himself caught with a no-nonsense right hook and quickly found himself on the canvas.
Taylor was clearly in spiteful mood and appeared resolved to force a stoppage, dropping Baranchyk once again with a barrage of powerful combinations before the Belarusian was effectively saved by the bell.
Having recovered relatively quickly but presumably aware of the significant numerical deficit that round would have entailed, Baranchyk continued ploughing forward and enjoyed a degree of success in working his way back into what was becoming an increasingly messy and scrappy affair.
However, despite the pleas from a visibly disconcerted Shane McGuigan, the Tartan Tornado tenaciously withstood the onslaught before returning fire and actually outfighting Baranchyk in the pocket on several occasions – his superior hand-speed on full display – to see out a memorable victory.
Taylor now progresses to the final of tournament, where he arguably faces the most formidable opponent of his career in WBA counterpart and Louisiana native Regis Prograis.
‘Rougarou’ is similarly undefeated and impressed in his own semi-final performance, showcasing punching power and slick upper-body movement to dispatch of Kiryl Relikh in six rounds.
Article by: Navi Singh