Unfortunately, between work and obligations it has been difficult to watch a lot of fights live and post in a timely manner. I woke up to news stories about the Zepeda vs Baranchyk 140 lb. fight from ESPN last weekend and was inundated with fight of the year buzz. With comparisons to the 1970’s classic between George Foreman and Ron Lyle this fight resembled a seesaw. One guy would go down, pop back up, and the other guy would go down. Ivan Baranchyk now 20-1 wasted no time in getting to work as he scored two knockdowns in the opening round. He attacked his southpaw opponent Jose Zepeda immediately from the opening bell. His attack was mostly centered a round a high left hook thrown at a looping angle, it resembled an overhand right. Zepeda now 33-2 remained poised and his head appeared clear despite the disastrous opener.
Round 2 saw an improvement in Zepeda’s fortunes as a counter spun Baranchyk and lead to a missed call on a knockdown that was not overruled by instant replay. Not long after the round Zepeda scored a knockdown of his own on the hard charging Baranchyk. Ivan looked buzzed but managed to survive. An emboldened Zepeda paid the price as he squared up to Baranchyk and paid the price with another visit to the canvas off an overhand right. Jose to his credit tucked his chin on the way down and appeared to break his fall a little and quickly rose to his feet. The round would up going to Zepeda on all 3 cards but was only 10-9 despite the knockdown due to going down himself. Round 3 saw Baranchyk visit the canvas again as the counter punching Zepeda began to find space to land his left hand.
Baranchyk came on strong in the 4th round and was applying pressure and scoring effectively. He began to really follow up his bread and butter left hook with an overhand right to try and chop down Zepeda. Nearing the end of the round Zepeda again had Baranchyk on the canvas again, a dramatic shift in the tide. The ebb and flow continued in what would be the final round of the fight. Round 5 saw Baranchyk land a series of punches that forced an off balance Zepeda to fall back into the ropes and creating a technical knockdown ruling. This means the ropes were determined to have been the only thing keeping Zepeda on his feet and thus a count was administered. As the round approached the end, Zepeda landed a right left bomb and knocked Baranchyk out cold. Most people are discussing this fight at the fight of the year contender but this is easily a front runner for KO of the year. It was a scary moment despite the great victory, Baranchyk remained on the canvas for several minutes as he was attended to by medical staff. He of course went to the hospital but has since been released which is a good sign.
Kingsley Ibeh scores moral victory in draw with Guido Vianello
Ibeh is growing on me as one of the many products to come out of the Las Vegas boxing bubble on ESPN this 2020. I published an article dedicated to him on Boxingnews24.com and featured him on this site more than once. I think he comprises a raw athletic talent, molded into boxing, and possessing sheer punching power. Vianello whom I’ve also written about in the past is still in the show me something phase of his prospect/suspect status. Yes he is young, undefeated going in at 7-0 (7) and holds an impressive amateur record but still I am hesitant to crown him just yet. The fight last Saturday with Ibeh signifies some glaring weaknesses and problem areas. Vianello had a difficult time putting together punches on Ibeh and was caught over and over with return fire after his best moments. Vianello seemed to really struggle with measuring and maintaining distance and has questionable ring generalship. What I mean by that is he was the taller and longer man with a better schooled jab and much more experience. However, despite Ibeh often staying along the ropes, Guido struggled mightily to control the pace or the type of fight that played out in the ring.
Ibeh to his credit was outstanding in there. He was about 7 pounds lighter from his previous bout and after the initial 5 rounds I couldn’t help but notice how comfortable he looked in there. He was not breathing heavily like he did in previous bouts and was noticeably tighter in his physique. Ibeh switched stances effectively and could jab, maintain his defense and score heavily out of either stance. I think all of this befuddled Vianello throughout. What Ibeh did the best was respond to being hit, it is a quality that I truly believe separates the good fighters from the bad ones. Every time Ibeh ate a good punch from Vianello he did not show hurt, retreat or hold, he fired his own shot and often his best connects were also after Vianello’s best connects. This resonates with the judges and prevents opponents from being able to follow up on their work or build a rally. In this fight in particular, Ibeh’s seemingly innate ability to respond to being hit is what resonated on my scorecard and also Adelaide Byrd’s score. Known far and wide for her bad cards her 59-55 for Ibeh was more inline with the ring action than the 57-57 draw cards that created a majority draw
|Guido Vianello 7-0 (7)||9||9||10||9||9||10||56|
|Kingsley Ibeh 5-1-1 (4)||10||10||9||10||10||9||58|
Often times prospects have it too easy in the early stages of their career only to have that “I’m in a fight moment”. Vianello was accustomed to his opponents falling over in the first round and succumbing to his superior power and skills. Viaenllo was soon thrust into a fight when in the second round he was cut by a solid jab. Ibeh fought with his hands low and had punches that seemed to start slow from the bottom and quickly come out of site to strike an unprepared Vianello. Ibeh seemed to do so much wrong in there and yet had so much success. Due to the small sample size of professional bouts I am struggling to determine whether I think the unorthodox style threw off Vianello or if Vianello lacked the ability to pounced on a guy who did so many things the “wrong way”. Ibeh spent much of the bout on the perimeter of the ring and with his back near or on the ropes and frequently leaned straight back with his arms down. two of the cardinal sins of boxing. Despite the rule breaking, Kinglsey prevailed over and over with his powerful blows including his impressive uppercuts. Viaenllo wore the damage of 5 rounds with Ibeh when he took the 6th round in clear fashion, saving face and securing a draw that allowed him to leave undefeated but not unblemished.
For Ibeh I feel blowing the 6th round is going to haunt him a little moving forward. The fight was decided on the final round and outside of a few big shots from Ibeh he was soundly out boxed. Vianello seemed to finally figure out what he needed to do and that epiphany occurred at a time when Ibeh ran out of gas. Despite being impressed with his conditioning for 5 rounds, his performance in the final round sullied that hopefulness in the wake of the decision. Ibeh has future as long as his conditioning improves and he loses a little more weight. His stylistic tweaking will come with a good corner and willingness to improve. The fighter’s instincts that he possesses are far ahead of his actual ring experience and cannot be discounted. Vianello needs to go back to the drawing board and try to learn how to fight every round like he did in the 6th round. At this juncture I still assume he will go further in his career but one thing is for certain, I think there should be a rematch here.
Also on the undercard:
Gabriel Flores Jr. advances to 19-0 with a wide unanimous decision over Ryan Kielczweski 30-4 but not after being rocked early by a hard left hook
Duke Ragan goes the distance for the first time and advances to 2-0 with a shutout decision over John Moraga who overcame an 8 year hiatus to come back to the ring. In a mostly reluctant fight Ragan looked gun shy in comparison to his first round demolition job that came in his debut. Moraga to his credit fought a very defensive fight and hardly opened to provide anything for Ragan to work off of. Ragan came on strong in the fourth and cemented a win.
Haven Brady Jr. won his debut by fourth round TKO when his bout was stopped by Russel Mora in the final minute of the fight. Gorwar Karyah stayed on his feet but was deducted a point for holding and continued to clinch repeatedly to try and make the distance. He did not appear knocked out or exhausted but the gulf in class put him in survival mode and the veteran Mora decided to call the contest.
Frevian Robles dominated Carlos Marrera and yet Adelaide Byrd inexplicably scored a draw, fortunately the other two judges had their senses and scored it 40-36 as did I. Robles was all over Marrera from the first round on and took it to his opponent on the inside. Despite the aggressive nature of his attack, his defense was impeccable as he slipped underneath punches and remained on top of his taller opponent.
Wilfred Mariano and Mitchell Sipe scored 1st round technical knockouts in their own undercard contests.