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Breakdown: Taylor vs Baranchyk, Inoue vs Rodriguez fight preview and prediction

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Saturday is a pair of WBSS semi-finals with Josh Taylor vs. Ivan Baranchyk and Naoya Inoue vs. Emmanuel Rodriguez on DAZN.

Naoya Inoue v Juan Carlos Payano - World Boxing Super Series Bantamweight Quarter-Final Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images

This Saturday the somewhat beleaguered second season of the World Boxing Super Series is back. This time, it’s a pair of semi-final fights in the Bantamweight and Super Lightweight divisions. WBSS airs live on DAZN this Saturday, May 18 with a fight time of 2:00 p.m. ET. Here’s what you can expect from the featured fights.

Josh Taylor (14-0; 12 KO) vs. Ivan Baranchyk (19-0; 12 KO)
Super Lightweight (140 lbs.) - 12 rounds

Winner of this semi-final claims the IBF title currently held by Baranchyk, plus moves on to the finals and a shot at the division’s top dog Regis Prograis. Taylor is ranked #2 in the division, and is a Scottish fighter who will have a loud fan section here in Glasgow. He scored the biggest win of his career a year ago when he defeated Viktor Postol, then stopped Ryan Martin in the 7th round to advance in the tournament. Baranchyk is also undefeated, and has faced good opposition but lacks a win like Postol so far. He defeated Anthony Yigit in his quarterfinal and is now ranked #5 in the division. He’s switched trainers and is now working with Freddie Roach for this camp. They are very well matched, and this is exactly what you want from a tournament like this - two undefeated, top 5 fighters testing each other. I have to give the nod to Taylor, but this is a close one.
Prediction: Josh Taylor, UD

Naoya Inoue (17-0; 15 KO) vs. Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0; 12 KO)
Bantamweight (118 lbs.) - 12 rounds

On the Bantamweight side, you have another excellent fight. Again, two undefeated top 5 fighters. But the difference maker here is Inoue, who is not only the division’s #1 fighter, he’s a pound for pound top 10. The Monster is a terrific power puncher - a rarity in these lower weight classes. His KO of Juan Carlos Payano to earn this semifinal slot was a thing of brutal beauty. Inoue’s international star status has been on the rise, and this tournament is the perfect place for him to really break out. Standing in his way this time is undefeated Puerto Rican fighter Rodriguez. Currently ranked #3 in the division, Rodriguez is a highly skilled fighter and the current IBF champion. He’s a highly credible top 3 fighter, but he’s in deep here because Inoue is just that good. For Rodriguez to win, he’ll need to fight a near perfect game, avoid that power, and shut down Inoue’s body attack. That’s a big ask. Winner here is the IBF champ, Ring champ, and moves on to face Nonito Donaire in the tournament finals. Of the two fights here, this one if the must-watch fight, simply because Inoue is a must-watch fighter here to put Rodriguez down and out, violently.
Prediction: Naoya Inoue, KO R3