Montana Love picked up by far a career-best win in by far a career-biggest opportunity, stopping former 140 lb titleholder Ivan Baranchyk after seven rounds tonight in Cleveland.
Love, a native of the city, was sharper, quicker, and just consistently got to the punch before Baranchyk, who hadn’t fought since his epic 2020 Fight of the Year war with Jose Zepeda.
It has to be said that referee Lonnie Scott — who is extremely inexperienced — was a factor here, as he lost control a little bit at times, including a late punch on the break that wobbled Baranchyk at one point. Baranchyk (20-3, 13 KO) never quite got momentum back after that, but it was also clear that Ivan just doesn’t have the punch resistance he used to; he’s always been at his best eating shots and throwing bombs, and that seems to have caught up to him at age 28.
Love (16-0-1, 8 KO) hurt Baranchyk repeatedly with sharp shots from both hands, and the hometown southpaw put Baranchyk down late in the seventh round. When Ivan returned to his corner, trainer Pedro Diaz made the immediate decision to stop the fight. He didn’t like what he was seeing, and you have to wonder if Baranchyk has already seen his best days come and go, with due respect to Montana Love.
“It’s a dream come true,” Love said. “I was thinking about this moment, visualizing this moment every day training. Thank you to Ivan for giving me this opportunity, man. The game plan was to move, he don’t have any feet. Box him, get in his head, make him miss, and we knew eventually he was gonna open up.”
Love, 26, said he’s hunting a title next.
“Strap me up, man! Strap me the fuck up, man! It’s my time. We want Josh Taylor, Gervonta Davis, they’ve got the titles in my weight class,” he said. “We can line it up and make it happen as soon as possible.”
It must be noted that Josh Taylor is the only true titlist at 140 lbs, the undisputed champion, but Gervonta Davis — who needs an opponent — does have the WBA’s secondary belt still, and that is a possible fight.
Davis-Love could, ostensibly, create a mandatory challenger for Josh Taylor, and if Taylor moves up to 147 next year as most expect, that’s a whole other story. Taylor is currently set to defend his four belts against Jack Catterall on Dec. 18 in Scotland.
Tommy Fury UD-4 Anthony Taylor
This wasn’t exactly the performance Tommy Fury (7-0, 4 KO) might have wanted to sell himself as a potential opponent for Jake Paul, but it could still happen. The question probably comes down to how much money Frank Warren can get from it in the UK, where this show was sold on BT Sport Box Office (pay-per-view), and it’s not a coincidence that Tommy is on this card.
Taylor (0-2) is an MMA fighter by trade and not, like, a particularly one — he was no Tyron Woodley or Ben Askren in that world. This was a pretty ugly fight, with Fury clearly winning it, but not impressing the way he likely expected he would, or meant to. Taylor was able to move and avoid clean shots just enough to go the four-round distance.
“Let’s get it on, Jake Paul! I’ve done my bit, you do your bit, and we’ll get it on,” Fury said. “It should be easy enough for him. I went four rounds with his sparring partner. Jump in the ring! It should be no test at all!
“I’m a seven-fight novice in this game, I’ve got a lot to work on. I’m nowhere near the finished article.”