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Updated: Oct 7, 2019

Ivan ‘The Beast’ Baranchyk (19-1) returns to action in New York on Saturday night, fighting Gabriel Bracero (25-3-1) as chief support to the middleweight title fight taking place between Gennady Golovkin and Sergiy Derevyanchenko at Madison Square Garden.

This is Baranchyk’s first fight since his World Super Series semi-final unanimous decision loss to Josh Taylor in May, a defeat in which he also surrendered the IFB super lightweight world title.

At 38, his opponent, Gabriel Bracero, is 12 years his senior. His last fight was an unexpected victory against 25-3, Artemio Reyes; a fight Bracero was hastily offered as ageing last-minute replacement and one which he was widely predicted to lose. He overwhelmed and KOed Reyes in the 5th round, leading to a welcome and exciting clamour as to what might come next. The answer, unfortunately, has been inactivity. Indeed, that fight took place in July 2018, and despite fighting on Saturday night, Boxrec still lists Bracero as ‘status: inactive’.

However, this fight promises to be unyielding and front-footed for both men. Baranchyk is a well-conditioned and relentless pressure fighter. Despite being knocked down twice in a fraught 6th round against Taylor, he continued to throw loaded and voluminous punches, enduring their reply and consistently backing Taylor up until the end of the 12th. Correspondingly, promoter Lou DiBella has described Bracero as “a crowd-pleasing brawler with a huge Puerto Rican following.” This is not hyperbole. Bracero is tough and likely unphased by any circumstance occurring within a boxing ring. He endured a misspent youth which alongside regulated boxing training and competition, included regular street fights, the habitual robbing of drug dealers and the reselling of the proceeds; building a criminal record which lists, amongst others, the grave crimes of attempted murder, aggravated assault and criminal possession. These charges ultimately resulted in him spending approximately 6 years of his life lost in the secluded routine of New York’s unforgiving Rikers Island prison complex.

Both men are hardy, tough and endured to physical hardship. Both are energised to fight by their own idiosyncratic motivations. One, a former world champion who is looking to reclaim and reascend to the rarefied heights of which he has recently been excluded; the other, an ageing warrior who continues to be written off and desires to not only prove something to himself but to silence everyone else. On Saturday night only one of them can prevail. Who will it be?

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