Jose Zepeda knocked defeats Ivan Baranchyk

LAS VEGAS — Eight knockdowns. Fight of the Year.

Jose Zepeda knocked out Ivan Baranchyk in the fifth round of their junior welterweight instant classic Saturday evening at the MGM Grand Las Vegas. Both men hit the canvas four times, but it was a left hand from Zepeda, a two-time world title challenger, that ended the fight.

Baranchyk (20-2, 13 KOs), a former IBF junior welterweight world champion, scored a pair of knockdowns in the opening round, and then the two traded knockdowns in the second. Zepeda used his counterpunching skills to knock down Baranchyk in the third and fourth rounds, but Baranchyk roared back and planted Zepeda (33-2, 26 KOs) on the canvas early in the fifth. Soon after Zepeda rose to this feet, the knockout hammer dropped.

Zepeda said, “I feel great because I won 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.’

“I know I’m tough. 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.”

Flores Improves to 19-0

Gabriel Flores Jr. had a wake-up call in the first round, when a left hook from Ryan Kielczweski  stunned him for a brief moment. Flores regrouped from that hiccup and boxed circles around Kielczweski en route to a 10-round unanimous decision (100-90, 99-91 and 98-92) in the lightweight co-feature. 

Flores (19-0, 6 KOs), the 20-year-old prodigy from Stockton, Calif., spoke of his desire to contend at junior lightweight sooner than later. Kielczweski (30-5, 11 KOs) dropped to 1-2 in his last three fights, but the 31-year-old Massachusetts native has yet to be stopped as a professional.

Flores said, “{I was not} buzzed at all. Not buzzed at all. I was a little bit off balance on my heel, which is rare. I’m always on my toes.

“I gotta stay in the pocket more. I need to stay on myself to stay in the pocket. I’m in the pocket landing shots, and then I feel like, ‘I’m bored here.’”

In undercard bouts:

Guido Vianello (7-0-1, 7 KOs) Majority Draw, 6 Rounds,  Kingsley Ibeh (5-1-1, 4 KOs). Scores: 59-55 Ibeh and 57-57 2X. Vianello’s winning and KO streaks came to an end against Ibeh, who won a pair of fights inside the “Bubble” over the summer. Ibeh buzzed Vianello on several occasions and swept the first two rounds. Vianello, who suffered the first cut of his career, won the sixth round on all three judges’ cards to salvage the draw. 

Featherweight:Duke Ragan (2-0, 1 KO) UD 4 John Moraga (1-2, 1 KO). Scorecards: 40-36 3X. Ragan went the distance for the first time in his young career and bested Moraga, a former UFC title challenger. Ragan, from Cincinnati, signed with Top Rank earlier this year and scored a first-round knockout in his pro debut in August.

Junior Lightweight: Frevian Gonzalez (4-0, 1 KO) MD 4 Carlos Marrero (2-4-1). Scorecards: 38-38 and 40-36 2X. Gonzalez defeated the most experienced foe of his young career and cruised to victory despite the lone draw scorecard.

Heavyweight: Mitchell Sipe (1-0, 1 KO) TKO 1 Jimmy Barnes (1-1, 1 KO), :43. MMA veteran Sipe made a smooth transition to the pugilistic ranks, knocking down Barnes in the opening seconds of the fight and hitting his beleaguered opponent at will after he rose to his feet. In less than a minute, it was over.

Featherweight:Haven Brady Jr. (1-0, 1 KO) TKO 4 Gorwar Karyah (2-2, 2 KOs), 2:27. Brady closed the show in style in his pro debut, stopping Karyah with just 33 seconds remaining in their scheduled four-round fight. Brady was deducted a point in the second round for a low blow, while Karyah had a point taken away in the fourth round for repeated holding.

Welterweight: JJ Mariano (3-0, 2 KOs) TKO 1 Matthew Reed (1-1, 1 KO), 1:27. Mariano, from Reno, Nev., knocked down Reed early in the opening round and then pinned him against the ropes. A barrage of blows prompted referee Robert Hoyle to stop the fight.

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