Jose Zepeda vs Ivan Baranchyk and the history of multi-knockdown thrillers


Jose Zepeda vs Ivan Baranchyk

Wow. Just wow.


Those words pretty much summed up the depth of my thoughts while watching Jose “Chon” Zepeda rise from four knockdowns to stop Ivan Baranchyk after administering four (five unofficially) of his own to likely seal the deal for Fight of the Year and KO of the Year.


After each knockdown, Zepeda, 33-2 (26), always rose with a clear head and appeared the victim of well-timed punching and placement. Baranchyk, 27, on the other hand, appeared hurt and rose having left a little piece of himself on the canvas. Baranchyk took some time to recover in the ring, but the following day appeared to be in good health and spirits as he enjoyed a bowl of ice cream with a team member, shared via social media. Baranchyk fell to 20-2 (13).


What a wild fight. It was fistic pornography and aesthetic brutality all at once. It’s something we will likely see again, but surely not for a long time. I say this confidently because it is something, although rare and inexact, boxing fans have seen (or read about) before.

  1. Qa’id Muhammad w rsf 5 Jamal Parram – November 11, 2012
    I’ve heard about it, but I’ve never seen this bantamweight bonanza. There are multiple accounts of the fight online, but no footage that I have seen, so help us boxing fans out and post some on YouTube if you have it. The account I read from ringside reporters tells of a furious contest laden with seven knockdowns and one questionable call, which ruled a body shot as a low blow. It was the unbeaten prospect in Muhammad who hit the canvas thrice in round three after being initially hurt by a counter following his jab. A battery of left hooks produced the other two as Parram went in for the finish. Muhammad survived the round and turned the tide in the fourth according to Tracy Morin, who wrote for Memphis Boxing. Over the next two frames, Muhammad dropped Parram four times or twice in each round. His body attack produced these results. A right to the torso had Parram down in the fifth and the debilitating attack forced him to take a knee later in the round. At this time, Parram’s corner saved him.
    After the bout, Muhammad promised to be back in the gym that Monday. He may have kept that promise, but he never fought as a professional again. Managerial conflicts surfaced on the web from time to time, but Muhammad was never in the mainstream. Not until his untimely death in 2018 when he was fatally shot in Las Vegas. Muhammad, 29, was still unbeaten at 8-0 (7).
  2. Bernard Dunne w rsf 11 Ricardo Cordoba – March 21, 2009
    For this one, I was watching live via my computer. However, I have an Irish friend who attended Dunne-Cordoba live and his account has the decibel level of the Irishman’s fans off the chart once he mounted his comeback.
    Dunne entered the ring as a super-bantamweight challenger, not two full years removed from a first-round KO loss to Kiko Martinez. Cordoba, from Panama, possessed much greater experience, but was unlucky in a pair of draws against Volodymyr Sydorenko and a split decision loss to Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym on the road.
    These two came out throwing heavy hands at the first bell much to the delight of fans. Dunne kicked it up a notch in the third. Dunne dropped the champion with a compact left hook that saw Cordoba tumble to the other side of the ring before crashing to his trunks. The two tangled legs at the start of the fifth and Cordoba slipped to the canvas, many thinking it was a knockdown. Once the referee ruled it a slip, the champion piled on the pressure with a two-fisted assault that introduced Dunne to the canvas as he sunk to his knees. Damaged, but not discouraged, Dunne rose to a buffet of rangy right hands. Dunne looked cooked after he was reacquainted with the canvas following a two-fisted barrage in close quarters.
    From the sixth through the 10th, the momentum would shift drastically and with great frequency as both men would appear nearer and nearer to succumbing under the pressure and torrid pace. Dunne had the support, but Cordoba had the lead going into the 11th round. Dunne began rocking the champion with left hooks. Cordoba wobbled, clearly stunned, and a corsage of punches punctuated the effort to drop the champion for the second time in the bout. The Panamanian rose, his stilted legs unevenly balancing him, but he soon was repositioned on the canvas with another left. Cordoba was on borrowed time and in the dying seconds of the round Dunne finished his magnum opus with one final left hook to leave the champion flat on his back.
    Dunne would lose his title in his next effort in three rounds against Kratingdaenggym and retire at 28-2 (15). Cordoba would rebound, going 5-1 over his final stretch to finish 39-3-2 (25).
  3. Dave McAuley w pts 12 Rodolfo Blanco I – September 15, 1990
    I remember reading about McAuley’s second flyweight title defense in The Ring or KO magazine. In total, this bout saw a combined five visits to the canvas, but they were accompanied by at least three chicken dances from Blanco.
    In the first round, it looked like it was going to be an early night for the champion as he was able to rock Blanco and put him on wobbly footing – one leg lifted about a foot off the ground in the second instance. In round two, the challenger gave fans the same indication, but more emphatically in his favor. A right hand floored McAuley for the ninth time in his relatively short career. His 10th knockdown suffered was just around the corner though when another right hand sunk the champion directly in Blanco’s corner. McAuley looked in dire straits, but his Irish heart and the bellowing fans fuelled his rise. McAuley got himself back in gear winning much of the third round with some gritty, but effective boxing. However, it was only after being dropped early in the frame by yet another right hand.
    The middle rounds kept a frenetic pace, but each man remained on his feet. Blanco did, however, get badly wobbled twice in the fifth round. It wasn’t until the ninth round that the Colombian boxer was fully taken off his feet. A smart shift to the southpaw stance followed by a short left by McAuley caught Blanco in a beautiful trap and put him down. The fun was not over yet though and late in the 11th a tired McAuley was dropped as he shuffled backward, but not out of range for a long right. Surprisingly though, this one did go the distance.
    This one was good fun and even if the scores might have sullied the ending, the overall work was great. Hands down, the scoring was awful and Blanco deserved to lift the title, but watch for yourself to enjoy the ebbs and flows and keep score.
  4. Archie Moore w ko 11 Yvon Durelle – December 10, 1958
    I wasn’t born until the late 70s and did not watch my first boxing match until well into the 80s. However, this one is for even longer-term fight fans and is almost the standard for knockdown, drag-out fights. By the time the fat lady was ready to sing, the two light-heavyweights scored a combined eight knockdowns much like Zepeda-Baranchyk, but the distribution was much different.
    Moore, the established champion for about six years, had a disastrous start against his top 10 contender. “The Fighting Fisherman” hurt “The Old Mongoose” about a minute in and dropped him with a right hand. The champion rose, but was kept in a defensive stature, wobbling from corner to corner, for the better part of a minute. Eventually, the barrage and sheer pressure from Durelle floored Moore for a second time. Upon rising, the all-time great was barely afforded a full breath before his challenger dropped him for a third time with an overhand right. The opening stanza was not yet over though and Moore, who barely beat two counts, fought back before the final bell.
    Durelle appeared to have fought a full 15 rounds in three minutes and Moore was right there with him, chests heaving. By necessity, round two ensued more tactfully with boxing as opposed to haymakers. The action was fought mostly on the outside, which favoured the champion, through round four. Durelle used smart boxing to cut the distance quickly on Moore in the fifth. A combination in close quarters deposited the champion on the canvas for the fourth time. The “Old Mongoose” climbed to his feet and used more veteran tactics to survive the follow-up attack from Durelle. The crafty pugilist even managed to stagger Durelle before the round’s end.
    The sixth saw a return to tactical warfare and this carried on until Moore broke through with a barrage of power shots that finally felled the Canadian slugger in the seventh. The eighth was among the best rounds of the fight, but neither man would touch the canvas. Durelle hurt Moore to the body and battered him in the ninth. Defying all logic, Moore came out for the 10th the fresher fighter and proceeded to hammer Durelle with heavy hooks until the younger fighter sought the canvas for reprieve. The bell saved the Canadian in this instance, but the minute’s rest between rounds could not save him from Moore. The champion again unloaded with some thunderous right hands in combination until Durelle’s only option was to wilt or be stopped. Durelle would beat the count, but moved back into harm’s way and Moore quickly leveled him with a right hand. Referee Jack Sharkey would finally reach the count of 10, although a tad hastily, in his eighth attempt!
    About eight months later, Moore would drop Durelle four more times to finish him in round three of their rematch. He would fight on, mostly at heavyweight, for four more years and retire at 186-23-10 (132). This bout would be the bout Durelle was most remembered for and he retired roughly five years later at 88-24-2 (49).

Four knockdowns each, a knockdown in every single round, and just five rounds of action: that’s the stuff of lore. In a period when everyone could use time to drop their masks and take a deep breath of fresh air, Zepeda and Baranchyk gave the sport of boxing just what it needed in 2020.


Oh, and if anyone discovers footage of Bob Pastor vs Turkey Thompson in their Great Grandpa’s attic, please find a way to get it on YouTube.

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