Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What’s Next For Ivan Baranchyk?

The term “Prospect” is one that some might argue can at times place high and/or unrealistic expectations upon athletes throughout all of sports. One sport where the search for the next great prospect is never ending is the sport of Boxing. Of course, Boxing fans will always love seeing the top fighters in the sport competing against each other with the intention of determining who is the “Best of the Best.” Perhaps the best part of the sport for Boxing fans however, is to see fighters from the early stages of their careers as they begin to rise through the ranks.

One such rising prospect is undefeated Jr. Welterweight Ivan Baranchyk. Baranchyk, a native of Amursk, Russia has gradually been generating buzz since debuting as a professional in June 2014. In just under three years as a pro, Baranchyk compiled an impressive record of 13-0, with 10 Knockouts, registering a career knockout percentage of over 70% in his career thus far. Although scoring knockouts in ten of thirteen professional fights may give the impression of a fighter that has not been tested, Baranchyk was taken as far as ten rounds in two of his four bouts in 2016 against previously unbeaten Zhimin Wang and veteran Wilberth Lopez. This set the stage for the toughest test to date in Baranchyk’s career as he made his 2017 debut on February 10th against fellow prospect Abel Ramos at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, OK.

Ramos, who entered the bout with a record of 17-1-2, with 12 Knockouts, has the kind of experience and style that this observer felt could pose a challenge to Baranchyk. In his lone defeat, Ramos was stopped by highly touted undefeated prospect Regis Prograis in December 2015. He had however, bounced back to win three bouts all by knockout prior to taking on Baranchyk, who was making the first defense of his United States Boxing Association (USBA) Jr. Welterweight championship.

The fight did indeed prove to be a test for the twenty-four-year old Baranchyk as the twenty-five year old Ramos was able to control the early rounds by working behind a consistent jab, mixing in combinations, and making Baranchyk miss a good portion of his offense. What was impressive about Ramos’ strategy in this observer’s eyes was not only how effective he was in using his jab as the focal point of his offense, but more specifically how well he was able to control distance. Baranchyk however, would make his presence known late in the third round when he dropped Ramos when a flush overhand right that sent him down to the canvas.

Ramos was able to get up and became the first fighter in my recollection to not become discouraged after being knocked down by Baranchyk as he was able to score a knockdown of his own with a counter left hook to the jaw that sent Baranchyk down with seconds to go in the third round. Ramos would again show his mettle in round four as he was sent to the canvas for a second time courtesy of a Baranchyk left hook to the chin.

As the scheduled ten round bout approached the halfway point, it was clear that this was not just the first significant test of Ivan Baranchyk’s career, but also perhaps an early candidate for 2017 Fight of the Year honors. Although both fighters were able to score knockdowns of each other, it was a battle of Ramos’ effective Boxing ability and combination punching versus Baranchyk’s constant pressure and power punches, in my opinion.

Although Ramos would continue to be effective in the second half of the fight, I felt that Baranchyk was more effective due in large part to his effective body punches and continuing to pressure Ramos back to the ropes, despite often having to walk through punches as he pressed forward. It was this approach that allowed Baranchyk to win an exciting ten round unanimous decision over Ramos to retain his USBA championship and remain undefeated in a fight that I scored 97-93 in his favor.

This should be viewed as a development fight for Baranchyk in that he was not only tested by a fellow prospect, but also showed that he could get up from a knockdown and continue fighting. Although I feel that it would not be a bad idea for Baranchyk to face Ramos again based on how competitive and exciting this fight was, it will be interesting to see where Baranchyk, who is currently rated number seven in the world by the International Boxing Federation (IBF) in the Jr. Welterweight division will go from here.

Even though I do not believe he is ready for an opportunity to challenge for a world championship, there are certainly options that could be available for Baranchyk coming out of this fight. Whether or not Baranchyk’s team opts to put him in with a top contender and/or a former world champion in the near future is a question that will be answered in time. Potential options such as former two-division world champion Rances Barthelemy, or top contenders like Antonio Orozco and Cletus Seldin, just to name a few could each pose an interesting challenge for Baranchyk as Ramos was able to do.

With a USBA championship and a top ten ranking in one of Boxing’s five major world sanctioning organizations to his credit, it is clear that Ivan Baranchyk is approaching the stage where he will attempt to go from rising prospect to top contender. How quickly he will make the attempt is anyone’s guess, but as most prospects discover over time the competition tends to get tougher as a fighter continues to climb up the ranks. We will see if Baranchyk can continue his rise the next time he steps in the ring.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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