Scotland has a new world boxing champion after Josh Taylor secured an unanimous victory over Ivan Baranchyk to land the IBF super lightweight title at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro.
The 28-year-old from Prestonpans joins esteemed Scottish fighters and former world champions Ken Buchanan, Jim Watt and Ricky Burns, in taking his place at the sport’s top table.
In winning his first world accolade, Taylor will now face American and current WBA champion Regis Prograis – who was ringside – in the final of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) later this year.
Taylor’s promoter and Hall of famer Barry McGuigan had predicted his man would reach the very top when he acquired his signature in summer 2015. He was right.
Taylor has now reeled off 15 consecutive victories with relative ease. How far he can go is anyone’s guess and on this evidence who can stop him?
The duel itself was never going to be as straightforward as the Scot’s WBSS quarter-final triumph over American Ryan Martin in November, but these fights rarely are.
The atmosphere inside the Hydro was electric and Taylor duly delivered to send the 7,000 in attendance home ecstatic.
The Edinburgh boxer was simply too slick for the former champion, who proved too one dimensional for the quick-thinking 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
The home boxer produced the cleaner shots and used the jab well from the off. The Belarusian, the smaller but stalkier of the two, doesn’t take his nickname “the Beast” lightly and managed to absorb some of the early pressure.
However, the Scot finally landed a great shot in the fifth round that wobbled the Eastern European, but Baranchyk responded almost immediately and unnerved Taylor for the first time in his professional career – albeit it was temporary.
Taylor responded emphatically in the sixth with a massive right hook that sent his opponent crashing to the canvas as Baranchyk saw his place in the WBSS finals disappear right before him. The 26-year-old then endured a real punishing as the home fighter gradually forced him on the backfoot with a series of shots to the body. But the bell would save Baranchyk – for now.
Everyone inside the venue sensed the contest was drawing to a close and that spurred Taylor on who went in search of his 13th stoppage.
Nonetheless, by the tenth round Taylor knew he had done enough to earn the belt and really rubbed salt into his opponent’s wounds. Baranchyk was gone and was doing his utmost just to make it to the final bell.
Taylor lapped up the last two rounds, so much that he could even afford to mock Baranchyk with a couple of cheeky grins in his rival’s direction.
“It’s a dream come true – I am the new world champion,” Taylor said. “I can’t believe it. I probably took more risks than I should have in there but I knew I had the beating of him. I was pretty comfortable to be honest but I did switch off a couple of times which I need to learn from. I thought I was going to get the stoppage as I was picking him off with the jab but it was fairly easy.
“It’s on par with winning gold at the Commonwealth Games. It hasn’t sunk in. The noise inside the arena was incredible. The fans were just amazing. I believe I will go on and win the tournament now.”