NEW YORK -- Junior middleweight Israil Madrimov, one of boxing's best prospects, dominated Alejandro Barrera en route to a fifth-round knockout victory on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Madrimov, who only turned pro 11 months ago, is on the fast track and showed why on the Gennadiy Golovkin-Sergiy Derevyanchenko undercard as he dominated Barrera, landing left hooks and body shots with abandon.
"I knew exactly who I'm fighting. I knew the guy was very tough, and I expected to stop him in the fifth or sixth round," Madrimov said. "I knew I was going to take some punches to get him tired, and that's exactly what happened. When I felt there was no power, I knew I could take him out."
Madrimov (4-0, 4 KOs), 24, a former amateur standout from Uzbekistan now fighting out of Indio, California, where he is trained by Joel Diaz, attacked Barrera from the opening bell and scored a clean knockdown in the first round with a flush left hook. After the knockdown, Madrimov focused on attacking Barrera's body.
Madrimov continued to dominate Barrera, who stood up to many fierce left hooks through the first few rounds. By the fourth, Barrera's face was showing damage, and Madrimov was in total control.
"First two rounds, the guy was really reckless, really awkward, so it took a couple rounds to find the rhythm, because usually I'm the awkward guy. But this time, the guy created a little trouble with the way he punches," Madrimov said. "But after two rounds, we were good."
When Madrimov landed a series of clean shots in the fifth round, including a wicked left hook to the head that had Barrera seemingly out on his feet, referee Benjy Esteves stopped it at 2 minutes, 36 seconds, after which Madrimov did a back flip in celebration.
Madrimov turned pro in November, and through four fights, he has faced opponents with a combined record of 87-21.
Barrera (29-6, 18 KOs), 33, of Mexico, was fighting for the first time in 17 months, since a decision loss to junior middleweight up-and-comer Carlos Adames on the Vasiliy Lomachenko-Jorge Linares undercard in May 2018, also at Madison Square Garden.
Barrera lost his third fight in a row and for the fourth time in his past five fights, including a fifth-round knockout to then-prospect Errol Spence Jr. in November 2015.
"I know that Spence stopped him and they're going to compare who stopped him earlier, but he had three months of training camp, so he was prepared as never before," Madrimov said. "Obviously, I wanted to stop him. It didn't matter to me when it happened, but he was a tough guy to take out."
Baranchyk blows out Bracero
Former junior welterweight world titlist Ivan Baranchyk got back on the winning track with a one-sided fourth-round knockout of Gabriel Bracero.
In October 2018, Baranchyk stopped Anthony Yigit in the seventh round of the quarterfinals of the World Boxing Super Series to win a vacant junior welterweight world title. But after that fight, he lost the 140-pound belt in his first defense by unanimous decision to Josh Taylor in the tournament semifinals in May. On Friday, he returned to the ring for the first time since that loss, against Bracero.
Baranchyk (20-1, 13 KOs), 26, who is from Russia and fights out of Miami, Oklahoma, dominated Bracero (23-4-1, 6 KOs), 38, of Brooklyn, New York.
"I'll be back. 'The Beast' is back. This is my message for everybody," Baranchyk said. "It's very important for me [to come back with win]. I have good opponent. And I'll be back."
Baranchyk could not miss with his left hand, and by the second round Bracero's face was already showing damage. Baranchyk continued to take it to Bracero in the third round. And when Bracero threw punches at Baranchyk after the round ended, referee Arthur Mercante gave Bracero a stern warning.
In the fourth round, Baranchyk badly hurt Bracero with a left hook to the body, then hammered him with a right hand to the head. Bracero tried to grab on to Baranchyk to stay upright but could not and went down. Bracero, who was fighting for the first time in 15 months, beat Mercante's count, but he had taken a lot of punishment, including a cut on his face, and Bracero's corner threw in the towel. Mercante stopped the fight at 1 minute, 30 seconds.
Akhmedov blitzes Hernandez in first round
Super middleweight up-and-comer Ali Akhmedov retained his regional belt as he blew away Andrew Hernandez in the first round of a scheduled 12-round bout.
Akhmedov (16-0, 12 KOs), 24, of Kazakhstan, who is with GGG Promotions, needed only 44 seconds to get rid of Hernandez, whom Akhmedov cracked with a chopping overhand right to send him to one knee. Hernandez beat the count but wobbled badly when he got up, and referee Eddie Claudio stopped the fight.
"I'm glad the way the fight came out. We had a very good camp in anticipation of this fight and I'm really happy with the outcome," Akhmedov said. "My promoter does a very good job trying to find opponents for me. I'm ready for anyone. I'm ready for any fighter."
Hernandez (20-8-2, 9 KOs), 33, of Phoenix, dropped to 1-3-1 with a no contest in his past six fights, including a decision loss to Caleb Plant, who later went on to win a super middleweight world title.
Ceballo easily stops Amanov
New York welterweight prospect Brian Ceballo (11-0, 6 KOs), 25, had an easy time with Azerbaijan native Ramal Amanov (16-1, 5 KOs), 35, in a third-round knockout victory.
After the bell rang to start the third, referee Arthur Mercante called timeout to have the ringside doctor take a look at Amanov, who had taken serious punishment in a one-sided second round.
In that third round, Ceballo, a pro for 19 months after a standout amateur career, continued to pound on Amanov, who was fighting in the United States for the second time. Mercante eventually waved it off on advice of the ringside doctor at 1 minute, 20 seconds.
Szeremeta knocks out Cortes
Middleweight Kamil Szeremeta (21-0, 5 KOs), 29, of Poland, knocked out Oscar Cortes (27-5, 14 KOs), 26, of Mexico, in the second round.
Szeremeta had been due to defend the European middleweight title against Matteo Signani on Oct. 11 in Italy but instead vacated the belt to take this fight with Cortes for more money on a bigger stage.
With 35 seconds left in the first round, Szeremeta landed a flush left hook that sent Cortes to the canvas.
In the second round, Szeremeta hurt Cortes with two right hands and Cortes went down, but Szeremeta continued with his combination. Szeremeta caught Cortes with a right and a left after Cortes' knee already had touched the canvas. Cortes appeared to exaggerate his condition due to the late punches, but referee Benjy Esteves wasn't buying it and stopped the fight at 45 seconds. It was Cortes' second loss in a row.
Ward loses pro debut on injury
Light heavyweight Joe Ward, a 2016 Irish Olympian who signed with promoters Lou DiBella and Murphys Boxing with fanfare, had an extremely disappointing professional debut. He lost by second-round knockout to Marco Delgado (6-1, 5 KOs), 28, of Anaheim, California, when he took a step back and his left knee gave out. Ward fell to the mat in agony, and his knee appeared to be dislocated.
Ward, 25, who is trained by International Boxing Hall of Famer Buddy McGirt, was unable to continue, and referee Eddie Claudio waved off the fight at 1 minute.
Ward, who was 290-15 as an amateur, won 15 Irish National Championships, three gold medals at the European Amateur Championships (2017, 2015, 2011) and gold at the World Youth Championships (2010) and World Junior Championships (2009). He also was 8-1 in the World Series of Boxing.
"White Chocolate" smashes Seldon
Middleweight prospect "White Chocolate" Nikita Ababiy (7-0, 6 KOs), 20, of Brooklyn, New York, scored a brutal first-round knockout of Isiah Seldon (13-3-1, 4 KOs), 31, of Somers Point, New Jersey.
Ababiy went right at Seldon and eventually landed a combination, including a short left hand, that floored Seldon. Referee Arthur Mercante immediately stopped the fight at 1 minute, 45 seconds. Seldon, who is the son of former heavyweight world titleholder Bruce Seldon, was on the mat for several minutes receiving medical attention, before moving to a corner stool to continue being examined.
Ababiy, who turned pro last October, was under the weather when he was forced to go the distance (in a six-rounder) for the first time in July on the Jose Ramirez-Maurice Hooker undercard, but he bounced back viciously against Seldon.