IBF light-welterweight champion Ivan Baranchyk has said he intends to follow in the footsteps of his hero, Terence Crawford, the WBO welterweight belt holder who has won world titles in three weight divisions.
The first of those came when he outclassed then WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns in front of a partisan home crowd at Glasgow’s SEC in March 2014, and Belarusian bomber Baranchyk intends to silence Josh Taylor’s fans with a stoppage victory when they meet in the semi-finals of the Muhammad Ali trophy at the SSE Hydro on Saturday.
“I love Terence Crawford,” he said. “He is my favourite boxer right now – second only to Mike Tyson on my all-time list.
“Crawford is pound-for-pound the best fighter right now and every time he fights, he progresses.
“I want to be like him, to get better every time I step in the ring. So the fight with Josh Taylor is good for me, great experience.”
He is too polite to say so but the 26-year-old with a 19-0 record does not want this fight to go to the scorecards, preferring to eliminate the possibility of a hometown decision by ensuring that the bout does not go the distance.
“For me, it’s always better to knock the opponent out,” he said. “Saturday night, there will be no need for the judges. I will win, 100 per cent. Either I will knock him out or I will put him down so many times that there is no doubt but 100 per cent, I need a knockout.
“Taylor has never run into a brutal fighter, a beast like me. This is going to be a new experience for him, something he’s never seen before. Let’s see how he handles it. I know how I will handle it because I’ve been in this situation before.
“I have a lot of respect for Josh Taylor. I respect all my opponents because I know how hard we work to prepare for a fight; it’s hard for all boxers.”
Baranchyk will be the villain of the piece as far as the Glasgow fight crowd is concerned and that will be a novel experience for him.
“I am not used to being the bad guy!” he grinned. “In the States, I have a big following, a big crowd in the US. So this is the first time I’m really going to be the outsider, coming to a hostile environment.
“I don’t mind coming to Glasgow for my first defence. It’s not tough for me. I’m comfortable, I’m excited and there is no problem with being here. The reason it took me so long to come here was nothing to do with me; that was down to my manager. I would fight any place, any time.”
He has also switched trainers and is now working with the world-renowned Freddie Roach, who has been in the corner for Hall of Famers Manny Pacquaio and Oscar de la Hoya, among others, and he suggested that he may alter his aggressive, come-forward style against Taylor.
“Since working with Freddie, maybe I have a surprise,” he said. “We’ll see in the ring – it’s a secret! I think this will be my toughest fight because both me and Josh are very tough fighters, really strong.
“He has a good record. It will be great. This will be the most hostile crowd I’ve fought in front of. I’ve never fought in an arena where everybody wants me to lose! But I love that; it motivates me because I’m not popular, not famous here in Scotland. And I want to be famous here – I want the Scots to become my fans, to have fans all over the world.”