SAN DIEGO, Calif., May 17, 2019 – The World Boxing Super Series has endured some shaky moments in 2019. Semifinals seemed in doubt due to apparent financial issues, causing athletes to voice their concerns and threaten to go find more solid opportunities elsewhere.
Thankfully this didn’t happen, and Saturday’s WBSS semifinals in Glasgow, Scotland promises to deliver more than enough action to make fans take a lunch break for boxing on DAZN USA. The chores can wait. Then the scale threatened to deliver another hiccup when super lightweight challenger and hometown favorite Josh Taylor missed making the 140-pound limit by .02 kilos, or just under a quarter of a pound. IBF super lightweight champion Ivan Baranchyk made weight at 139.5 pounds. Taylor made weight within the hour granted, and the fight is on.
Taylor vs Baranchyk preview: Home field advantage a plus
But hang on to your remote. Because this is an IBF title fight, there is a same day weigh-in Saturday in which both fighters must weight no more than 150 pounds, 10 pounds past the division limit.
The southpaw Taylor (14-0, 12 KOs) is a talented boxer-puncher who backs up his offensive output with solid defensive skills. Baranchyk of Belarus (19-0. 12 KOs) is a flat out offensive machine. Now training with Freddie Roach, expect “The Beast” to put his foot on the gas even harder in this bout.
“It’s the best guys in boxing fighting agaisnt each other,” says Taylor. “It’s far to say it doesn’t happen often in boxing. I’m in this game to prove I’m the best in boxing.”
Baranchyk said he plans to stop the fight early, and “I’m ready for war.”
Baranchyk presents the more aggressive persona, but his record reveals a less impressive list of opponents faced than Taylor. The “Tartan Tornado” is also fighting at home in front of Scottish fans who don’t get a world title fight in front of them too often. He took apart Viktor Postol and dealt first losses to Ryan Martin and Ohara Davies. As long as Taylor doesn’t make it a complete firefight with Baranchyk, we see the fight putting him in the final against Regis Prograis of the U.S.
Monstrous potential: Rodriguez takes on Inoue
The bantamweight semifinal features one of the best fighters most Americans don’t know. If you’re one of them, allow us to introduce you to “The Monster,” Naoya Inoue of Japan (17-0, 15 KOs). Two division champion Inoue scored Ringside Seat’s 2018 “Knockout of the Year” in the opening round of the World Boxing Super Series tournament last October. See it here, and you will understand the serious fan enthusiam. (Inoue vs Payano starts at 1:25 of the video).
Until this fight, Juan Carlos Payano of the Dominican Republic had never been stopped and had only one previous loss in a solid career. It must be daunting for Inoue’s semifinal opponent, Emmanuel Rodriguez of Puerto Rico (19-0, 12 KOs), but to his credit he’s not letting on if so. Rodriguez has scored several impressive early knockouts of his own.
Rodriguez defends his IBF title while Inoue puts up his WBA title in this unification bout. “All I have to say is, Emmanuel Rodriguez is going to continue being the IBF champion of the world,” said the Boricua boxer at the final news conference.
Inoue didn’t guarantee a knockout despite his 88 percent KO rate. “Of course I look for the knockout, but Rodriguez is a great fighter. As the fight goes on, if the knockout is there I’ll go for it. But he is a great fighter and I’m expecting a great match,” said Inoue.
Be in your seat at the opening bell for this one. It might be over before the ice melts in your drink.
This fight gives us another way to gauge just how good Inoue really is. Rodriguez is considered a solid test for Inoue, but so were Payano and prior opponent Jamie McDonnell, and Inoue took both out in the first round. Former opponent Antonio Nieves, who fought six hard rounds with Inoue in 2017 before yielding, said he’s never been hit harder by anyone. Whether Inoue gives fans a chance to see him go a few more rounds with Rodriguez, or delivers a 2019 KOTY finalist and sends you back to your weekend chores early, don’t miss this one.
Either way, Inoue is expected to prevail and face well-liked veteran Nonito Donaire in the final.
How does the World Boxing Super Series work?
If you’re new to the World Boxing Super Series, it began in 2017 and is now conducting its second year of division specific tournaments. Season 1 featured cruiserweights and super-middleweights culminating in spectacular unification finals. Season 2 once again features cruiserweights, adding the super lightweight and bantamweight divisions. Eight top rated boxers fight in a bracket style tournament, a total of seven fights per weight class with the best fighting the best in top venues around the world.
The World Boxing Super Series semi-finals air on DAZN USA starting at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on social media at @PRProSanDiego.
Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.
Copyright © 2019 by Falcon Valley Group