GLASGOW, Scotland — Josh Taylor set up a world title unification fight with Regis Prograis after controlling Ivan Baranchyk for most of a unanimous points win Saturday.
Taylor (15-0, 12 KOs), from Edinburgh in Scotland, lifted his first world title after twice flooring US-based Belarusian Baranchyk in the sixth round before earning scores of 117-109, 115-111 and 115-111 for the IBF super-lightweight belt in front of 6,000-plus fans at the SSE Hydro.
The undefeated southpaw progresses to face American Prograis, the WBA titleholder, in the final of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS), an eight-man elimination tournament, later this year.
“It’s a dream come true,” Taylor said. “I was pretty comfortable in there but switched off a couple times, and I could have made it a bit more comfortable for myself. If I had more time in that round (the sixth), I would have stopped him. I was just picking him off with my jab.”
Taylor then led the crowd in singing “Flower of Scotland” on the microphone from the ring.
Prograis, (24-0, 20 KOs), originally from New Orleans but now based in Houston, was ringside to check out who he will be facing next.
“It was a hell of a fight, and I felt like I was going to fight him (Taylor) anyway and now I can’t wait for it,” Prograis said.
Taylor, known as “The Tartan Tornado,” will face Prograis in a bout to decide the best at 140 pounds.
The 28-year-old, who trains in London with coach Shane McGuigan, is a smart boxer but found himself in trouble a few times, most notably in the fifth round.
But Baranchyk (19-1, 12 KOs), who is trained by Los Angeles-based Freddie Roach, lost the belt in a first defense after failing to land the volume of power punches he would have wanted on the slippery Scot.
Baranchyk, 26, nicknamed “The Beast” and based in Oklahoma, found Taylor too slippery again from the first round on. Taylor’s jab and fluent movement saw him establish an early lead, but Baranchyk was dangerous and he came charging at Taylor at the start of the fourth round. But Taylor enjoyed playing the matador and later in the fourth nailed Baranchyk with a left uppercut.
By the end of the fourth round, Baranchyk looked bemused at how to break Taylor’s control of the fight. But Baranchyk had better success in the fifth round, and Taylor was lucky to finish it without being given a count.
Taylor’s tidy work suddenly became a bit messy and the Belarusian was able to land with a right hand before rattling the home hero with two uppercuts. Taylor looked disjointed, and he even put a glove down after taking another shot but escaped without being counted.
In a thrilling seesaw encounter, Baranchyk was then floored twice in the sixth round as Taylor produced a robust response. As Baranchyk went to throw a right, Taylor was quicker to land a right to the jaw to floor the champion. After taking a count, Baranchyk was in more trouble on the ropes before Taylor floored him again with two left hands.
Baranchyk bounced up at the count of five and both landed big blows in a ferocious seventh round, leaving Taylor bleeding from above his left eye.
Baranchyk needed to produce something big in the later rounds, but Taylor remained sharp and in the eighth round connected with a left hook at the end of a fast flurry of punches.
Taylor’s reactions kept him out of trouble in the 11th round when he evaded Baranchyk’s swings with his hands down. Baranchyk went for it in the last round but could not land cleanly to really trouble Taylor, and he looked resigned to defeat at the end of the 12th.