CLEVELAND – Montana Love supposedly wasn’t enough of a puncher to hurt Ivan Baranchyk on Sunday night.
That didn’t stop the Cleveland native from scoring a career-changing, technical-knockout victory over the former IBF junior welterweight champion on the Jake Paul-Tyron Woodley undercard at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Love withstood some troublesome moments against the hard-hitting Baranchyk before he dropped him with a perfectly placed left uppercut toward the end of the seventh round.
The ever-brave Baranchyk answered referee Lonnie Scott’s count quickly and the bell sounded to end the seventh round before Love could hit Baranchyk again. Pedro Diaz, Baranchyk’s trainer, started taking the tape off of Baranchyk’s right glove as soon as he sat on his stool, though, and stopped the bout before Baranchyk could absorb any more punishment.
Baranchyk’s co-promoters, Lou DiBella and Tony Holden, went to his corner after the seventh round to make sure the fight was stopped as well.
The 26-year-old Love improved to 16-0-1 and produced his eighth knockout. Russia’s Baranchyk (20-3, 13 KOs) lost by knockout in a second straight bout.
Diaz, DiBella and Holden were especially protective of Baranchyk because he fought for the first time since his unforgettable brawl with Jose Zepeda nearly 11 months ago, BoxingScene.com’s “Fight of the Year” for 2020. Zepeda dropped Baranchyk four times and overcame four knockdowns to knock Baranchyk unconscious in the fifth round of their spectacular slugfest last October 3 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
The 28-year-old Baranchyk was removed from the ring on a stretcher and spent that night in a local hospital. He was placed on a lengthy medical suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, but he returned to the gym six months after that devastating defeat and was determined to continue his career.
His career could come to an unceremonious end after what transpired in the seventh round Sunday night.
Love affected Baranchyk with a right hook 40 seconds into the seventh round and followed up with a straight left that kept Baranchyk at a distance. Baranchyk went to the canvas with a minute to go in the seventh round, but Scott rightfully ruled it a slip.
Love completely changed the course of their fight with a left uppercut that sent Baranchyk to the canvas with about six seconds to go in the seventh round.
Love landed a straight left a little less than a minute into the sixth round. Scott warned Baranchyk toward the end of the sixth round for hitting Love behind his head.
Love landed a left uppercut that Baranchyk took well, but a right hook by Love bothered Baranchyk and made him reset his feet with just under 30 seconds to go in the fifth round. Baranchyk came back to blast Love with a right hand that backed him into the ropes just prior to the end of the fifth round.
A sweeping left hook by Baranchyk backed up Love 35 seconds into the fourth round. Love caught Baranchyk with a counter right that landed with about 1:20 to go in the fourth round.
Love showboated after rocking Baranchyk with a flush left that knocked Baranchyk backward with under 40 seconds to go in the fourth round.
Baranchyk’s left hand knocked Love into the ropes at almost exactly the halfway point of the third round. A left-right-left combination by Baranchyk rocked Love, knocked him into the ropes and made him hold with over a minute remaining in the third round.
Love seemed to think Baranchyk hit him after the bell sounded to end the third round, so he fired back with a right hook that made Baranchyk stumble.
Love’s left hand knocked an off-balance Baranchyk through the ropes with just over 40 seconds on the clock in the second round. Another straight left by Love knocked Baranchyk backward just before the second round concluded.
A short right hook by Love landed with about 1:15 to go in the opening round. He made Baranchyk miss wildly with many of his punches in that opening round as well.
Baranchyk caught Love with a right hand that made Love hold him toward the end of the first round, though.
Six rounds later, Baranchyk suffered his third defeat to a southpaw. Before Love stopped him, undefeated, fully unified junior welterweight champ Josh Taylor (18-0, 13 KOs) and Zepeda (34-2, 26 KOs, 2 NC) beat him.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.
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