Jose Zepeda viciously KOs Ivan Baranchyk in Fight of the Year candidate

Jose Zepeda vs. Ivan Baranchyk. (Mikey Williams/Top Rank)Jose Zepeda vs. Ivan Baranchyk. (Mikey Williams/Top Rank)
Jose Zepeda lands a punch against Ivan Baranchyk on Saturday at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. (Mikey Williams/Top Rank)

Jose Zepeda and Ivan Baranchyk recreated on Saturday a boxing classic that happened nearly 45 years ago featuring one of the greatest fighters in history.

Zepeda won an incredible war of attrition on Saturday at the MGM Grand Conference Center, surviving four knockdowns by knocking Baranchyk down four times himself and knocking him out in the fifth in a super lightweight title eliminator.

The bout was reminiscent of the wild heavyweight fight between former champion “Big” George Foreman and Ron Lyle that happened at Caesars Palace on Jan. 24, 1976.

Zepeda went down twice in the first in a fight in which the two never stopped throwing haymakers.

“I feel great because I won the fight,” Zepeda said after the fight. “It was a hard fight, and I’m thinking, ‘Man, boxing is hard. It’s no easy game.’ Boxing, it’s tough, and you have to give it 100 percent because it’s a hard sport.

“Both of us are climbing up, and somebody had to stay. I was able to win the fight, and I told him, ‘Thanks for the fight. It was a great fight.’”

They fought their way into and out of trouble numerous times in the bout. Baranchyk seemed in big trouble after being dropped late in the fourth, but he dropped Zepeda with a right with 30 seconds left.

He was set for the kill, but nothing went according to form in this wild battle. After the fight resumed, Baranchyk came in and was clipped on the chin with a crushing left hook. He went down and the fight was over immediately.

He did not move for several minutes as doctors attended to him, but left the ring under his own power and was then transported to the hospital

It was a battle of wills that Zepeda, who is normally a more technical boxer, won out.

“I know I’m tough,” Zepeda said. “I didn’t know how tough I was. Tonight, I showed myself, too. I’ve never been in a fight like this. It was a great learning experience.

“I’m going for the titles. That’s why we’re here in boxing.”

It has to be considered a frontrunner for Fight of the Year. The action was nonstop and the momentum shifted repeatedly. Each man was cracked with thudding shots, and it looked like something out of Sylvester Stallone’s imagination rather than an actual fight at times.

While it had high expectations, it exceeded every one of them. Baranchyk won the first round 10-7 on all three cards, but trailed 37-35 at the time of the stoppage.

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