By Keith Idec
Mikey Garcia was completely transparent about his motivation for remaining at 140 pounds to challenge Sergey Lipinets.
Fighting Lipinets doesn’t just give Garcia a chance to become a world champion in a fourth weight class. The unbeaten WBC lightweight champ was offered more money for their 12-round fight February 10 than for lightweight championship unification matches against Jorge Linares and Robert Easter Jr., and another 140-pound bout with Omar Figueroa.
Lipinets’ incentive is obvious, according to Garcia, for a fight Showtime will televise from the Alamodome. Becoming the first fighter to beat Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs) would make the comparatively unknown Lipinets a boxing star, undoubtedly the boxer to beat at 140 pounds.
“He’s hungry,” Garcia told BoxingScene.com before a press conference Monday in Los Angeles. “He just won his world title, so obviously he sees an opportunity by fighting me that if he beats me, he’s going straight to the top. If he beats me, he’s the man. So that’s why he’s gonna be very hungry and motivated. But I just have to be careful not to get caught in one of those exchanges.”
The 28-year-old Lipinets (13-0, 10 KOs) has been a world champion for only a month-and-a-half, yet jumped at the chance to make his first title defense against one of the best boxers in the sport, pound-for-pound.
Kazakhstan’s Lipinets was the mandatory challenger for Terence Crawford’s IBF 140-pound championship, but Crawford vacated that title to move up to welterweight after knocking out former champion Julius Indongo (22-1, 11 KOs) on August 19 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Lipinets out-boxed Japan’s Akihiro Kondo (29-7-1, 16 KOs) in their 12-round bout to win the unclaimed IBF belt November 4 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Three months earlier, Garcia, of Oxnard, California, won his 140-pound debut by defeating former four-division champion Adrien Broner (33-3, 24 KOs, 1 NC) by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder at Barclays Center.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to become a champion in four divisions and to take the title away from an undefeated champion,” Garcia said. “He might not have the long career, that long of a record as a pro, but he’s a champion with only 13 fights. He’s definitely skilled enough to be a champion that early.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.