By Jordan Ellis @JordanEllisUK
After months of claims, counter claims and negotiations the World Boxing Super Series semi-final between IBF Super-Lightweight champion Ivan Baranchyk and top contender Josh Taylor is finally on.
The fight that looked doomed earlier this year is now official for May 18th at Glasgow’s Hydro Arena. The double headed event also boasts the Bantamweight semi-final between pound for pound star Naoya Inoue and Emmanuel Rodriguez.
Regis Prograis waits in the WBSS final for the victor of this fight, who will have the chance to be unified champion at 140lbs by the time the year is out.
The fight to make the fight
At the start of 2019 the WBSS seemed to be on the brink of collapse. With no UK TV deal, cash flow issues and fighters such as Ivan Baranchyk pulling out.
The tournaments main backer’s MP & Silva had gone into insolvency, causing financial issues for the WBSS which led to some fighters being paid late.
IBF Super Lightweight champion Ivan Baranchyk added to the tournaments issues by pulling out of his semi-final fight with Josh Taylor on the same day it was officially announced. This set off months of back and forth between the tournament’s organizers and team Baranchyk. The fight was eventually put to purse bids which the WBSS won forcing Baranchyk to take the fight as originally agreed.
The issues faced certainly made for a bleak situation for the WBSS but Promoter Kalle Sauerland believes its all part of the course with this type of tournament format.
“When you put together a tournament with 24 top fighters in three different weight classes you’re always going to have bumps and bruises along the way and problems to solve. From that point of view nothing is different from season one. This time we’ve had problems that were a little bit outside of our sporting control. But that’s part of the business. We’re very happy with where we are, and everything is very much on track for some great semi-finals.”
Just a few weeks out from the Glasgow semi-final double header and Kalle Sauerland’s sentiments ring true. A newly announced broadcast deal with Sky Sports will bring the WBSS to UK fans. Ivan Baranchyk is in camp preparing to travel to Scotland and the financial issues by all accounts have been resolved. So, we can now forget about the politics and talk about the fights.
Champion But Underdog
Ivan Baranchyck (19-0) enters this fight an undefeated world champion. He also enters this fight a sizeable underdog on foreign soil against a highly touted fighter in his hometown. The oddsmakers have Baranchyck at 9/2 to retain his title against Josh Taylor. Back to back big wins over Anthony Yigit and Petr Petrov have done little to convince the bookmakers that Baranchyck has much chance in this fight. They’ve been wrong before though and we could well see an upset in this one.
At just 26 years of age Ivan “The Beast” Baranchyck has his prime fighting years ahead of him. A tough come forward fighter with a fan friendly style and punch power that has earned him 12 knockouts in 19 wins. Over recent fights he has begun rounding out his game under the tutelage of Pedro Diaz who has also trained the like of Miguel Cotto and Guillermo Rigondeaux. Greater ring generalship and an improved fight IQ could have Baranchyck competing with the best at 140lbs. He’ll have to make these improvements fast as he’s about to do just that on May 18th.
Best Brit Without A Belt
Josh Taylor is a truly world class fighter but without the accolades to prove it he’s just another challenger at this point. A sensational win over Ryan Martin last time out was just one of many standout performances from the Scotsman. The popular Taylor humbled previously unbeaten Ohara Davies when they met in 2017. A fight with Viktor Postol in only his 12th bout proved the quality of Taylor as he came through a tough scrap evidencing his world class credentials.
The WBSS having him topping this card in his own backyard whilst challenging for a title is evidence of his star potential. This fact made even greater as the organizers have decided to place pound for pound “monster” Naoya Inoue on his undercard.
A world title win solidifies common opinion that Josh Taylor is an elite level Super Lightweight, propelling him to the top of the division and on to bigger things. He’ll be desperate to prove himself elite and his supporters right, Taylor will get that chance in just a couple of weeks’ time.
A win not only brings the IBF title but a guaranteed shot at becoming unified champion at 140lbs, the Ali Trophy and a chance to become the universally accepted best Super-Lightweight in the world. The small matter of a fight with WBA champion Regis Prograis awaits the winner. For now, all eyes are on May 18th Glasgow’s, Hydro Arena.