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Jose Zepeda vs. Ivan Baranchyk Was a Lock for the TSS Fight of the Year

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  • Jose Zepeda vs. Ivan Baranchyk Was a Lock for the TSS Fight of the Year

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    By Arne K. Lang

    “Jose Zepeda KO’s Ivan Baranchyk in potential fight of the year,” read the headline above Steve Kim’s post-fight story for ESPN.

    The headline-maker obviously didn’t take the time to read Kim’s entire summary. True, 89 more days would come and go before the world kicked the year 2020 to the curb, but there was no potential about it. The odds that a better fight would come along inside those 89 days were roughly the same as the odds of the sun rising in the west.

    “When it comes to the fight of the year,” wrote Kim in his concluding sentence, “shut down the polls. It’s this fight by a landslide.”

    The fight between junior welterweights Zepeda and Baranchyk transpired on Oct. 3 inside the antiseptic “Bubble” at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. On paper, this was an outstanding match-up.

    Ivan Baranchyk, from the Republic of Belarus, had lost only once in 21 prior pro fights, the setback coming in hostile Glasgow, Scotland, where he was outpointed by the exceptional Josh Taylor. Zepeda, a Southern Californian of Mexican extraction, had lost only twice in 34 pro starts, with both losses coming in world title fights. Both competitors were accustomed to winning inside the distance, but this bout figured to go the full “10.” That’s the norm when two top-shelf fighters, even big bangers, are evenly matched.

    As it turned out, Zepeda vs. Baranchyk was over before the halfway point. It ended 10 seconds before the bell that would have signaled the end of the fifth frame. When referee Kenny Bayless waived the fight off, Baranchyk was stretched out on the canvas, unconscious. He lay there for several minutes before making it out of the ring for a waiting ambulance that took him to a hospital for observation.

    Before Zepeda ended the fight with a perfectly placed left hand, the momentum swings came fast and furious. If there had been in-fight betting as during the bare-knuckle era in merry old England, the odds would have zig-zagged dramatically with no time for reflection.

    Baranchyk had the upper hand in the early going, scoring two knockdowns in the opening round. There would be eight knockdowns in all, four by each man and all of this compressed into less than 15 full minutes of actual fighting. Seconds before Zepeda brought the bout to a sudden conclusion, he was in trouble, taking a count after being sent flying into a corner pad with a powerful right cross.

    Bob Arum, who was ringside, likened the fight to the Jan. 24, 1976 rumble between George Foreman and Ron Lyle at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. That see-saw fight, which likewise ended in the fifth round, came early in the year but staved off every serious challenge to the annual Fight of the Year commendation by The Ring magazine.

    Come to think of it, there were no serious challenges.

    Some end-of-year awards require some hashing-over as those with a say weigh the options. Not the 2020 award for the TSS Fight of the Year; it was a no-brainer.

    Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank

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  • #2
    And also a contender for "Upset of the Year."


    • #3
      And the Round of the Year, the 2nd.


      • #4
        First there was Nardico-Norkus I in January of 1954. Then there was Moore vs. Durelle. Their first fight in 1958 was arguably the greatest fight of all time. Then Foreman vs. Lyle (1976) and Cooper vs. Moorer (1992).Only one of recent vintage that comes close is Ahmad vs. Muriqui. Check that one out.


        • #5
          Cooper almost had some pretty big wins.

          Moorer, Holy...