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After 8 knockdowns, Jose Zepeda starches Ivan Baranchyk in Fight of the Year favorite

Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank
Fighters Network

Forget Fight of the Year, this may have been Fight of the Decade.

Jose Zepeda and Ivan Baranchyk scored four knockdowns apiece, but it was Zepeda’s unreal heart and resilience that pulled through with a career-defining fifth-round knockout of Baranchyk on Saturday in a Hagler-Hearns slugfest on Saturday night.

Just moments after Baranchyk drilled Zepeda into the ropes to score a fourth knockdown, Zepeda knocked out Baranchyk cold with a left hook that emphatically concluded their scheduled 10-round junior welterweight affair at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas with just 10 seconds to go in the fifth round.

Russia’s Baranchyk (20-2, 13 KOs) remained motionless on the canvas for several minutes and was eventually taken to a local hospital for observation.

Zepeda came into the fight having only been knocked down once in his pro career. He overcame four knockdowns in this brutal contest to beat Baranchyk in what is undoubtedly the 2020 Fight of the Year.

Referee Kenny Bayless halted the action at 2:50 of round five.

Baranchyk came out swinging out the gate, connecting with two big left hooks. A right hand then sent Zepeda down for the first time, and Baranchyk floored him again with another right hand later in the frame.

After getting dropped twice in the opening round, Zepeda rallied to floor Baranchyk with a short left that knocked him down just nine seconds into the second round. However, referee Kenny Bayless ruled no knockdown.

Zepeda then floored Baranchyk with a left hand for his first official knockdown just 45 seconds into the second round. However, Zepeda recklessly attempted to finish Baranchyk believing the end was near. Instead, Zepeda got nailed with a counter right hand and found himself looking at the ceiling for the third time.

Roughly a minute into round three, Zepeda sent Baranchyk to the canvas for a second time, but the Belarus native rose to his feet.

With 18 seconds remaining in the fourth round, Zepeda connected with a left hook that sent Baranchyk to the deck for the third time in the bout.

A devastating right hand by Baranchyk knocked Zepeda into the ropes with 38 seconds to go in the fifth round. The ropes held up Zepeda, and Bayless correctly ruled that a knockdown. That marked Baranchyk’s fourth knockdown in just five rounds.

But Zepeda was still in the fight.

Approximately 20 seconds after beating the count for the fourth time, the 31-year-old Zepeda (33-2, 26 KOs), of La Puente, California, uncorked a left hook that nailed Baranchyk directly on the chin to end their unforgettable, sensational brawl.