CLEVELAND – Ivan Baranchyk beat on his chest after a ceremonial weigh-in Saturday afternoon.
He yelled at Montana Love’s supporters in the crowd and promised to knock out the hometown boxer in their 10-round fight Sunday night on the Jake Paul-Tyron Woodley undercard at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse (8 p.m. EDT; $59.99). When they came face-to-face for promotional photos, Baranchyk nearly pushed Love off the stage at KeyBank Theater.
Love intends to respond by knocking Baranchyk off the proverbial boxing cliff in the former IBF junior welterweight champion’s first fight since a brutal knockout loss to Jose Zepeda nearly 11 months ago. Russia’s Baranchyk believes a long break from boxing served him well and that he’ll be too much for Love in the unbeaten southpaw’s most difficult fight, at least based on resumes.
“He hasn’t had any big fights or tough opponents,” Baranchyk told BoxingScene.com. “This will be a bad experience for him.”
Baranchyk (20-2, 13 KOs) spent six months away from the gym after passing a battery of extensive tests necessitated by his vicious knockout loss to Zepeda. A resilient Zepeda overcame four knockdowns and dropped Baranchyk four times in a surreal slugfest that BoxingScene.com and numerous other outlets recognized as “Fight of the Year” for 2020.
A brutalized Baranchyk was removed from the ring at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas on a stretcher last October 3. He spent a night at Valley Hospital Medical Center, but he was hellbent on resuming his career once he returned home to Miami.
“The next day I felt much better,” Baranchyk said. “When I ate some ice cream and met with my wife, I was OK. I felt a little pain in my brain for a little bit – a week, maybe two. That’s it.”
Baranchyk, 28, returned to Russia temporarily to work with one of his former coaches. He eventually moved back to Miami, where his usual trainer, Pedro Diaz, prepared him to battle Love.
Baranchyk’s handlers selected Love as his opponent because while undefeated and skillful, Love (15-0-1, 7 KOs) isn’t considered the type of powerful puncher who can hurt him. The rugged Baranchyk, whom the left-handed Love described as “strong” and “wild,” has lost only to southpaws, though, in undefeated, fully unified junior welterweight champ Josh Taylor (18-0, 13 KOs) and Zepeda (34-2, 26 KOs, 2 NC).
“He’s a good boxer,” Baranchyk said of Love. “He’s undefeated. He’s good technically. I think I will be better and this fight, I think technically I will be better. I will try. I have no more words. I will show you everything.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.