With the welterweight scene continuing to take shape for the first part of 2020, one bout currently in advanced talks remains contingent on several moving parts.
BoxingScene.com has learned that plans are in place for a welterweight showdown between top-rated contenders Sergey Lipinets and Kudratillo Abdukakhorov. The bout carries dual significance, though both angles factoring heavily into when such a pairing can be confirmed.
According to sources, the fight is being eyed for a place on the undercard of the rumored Feb. 22 rematch between unbeaten heavyweights Deontay Wilder (41-0-1, 40KOs) and Tyson Fury (29-0-1, 20KOs). A full announcement on the heavyweight title fight is entirely dependent upon Alabama’s Wilder prevailing in another rematch, as he faces Miami-based Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz (31-1, 26KOs; 2NCs) this weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada, which will serve as the likely destination for Wilder-Fury II.
Putting together the heavyweight fight puts longtime bitter business rivals Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) creator Al Haymon and Top Rank founder and chairman Bob Arum in the same room, which also applies to the welterweight fight in play. Lipinets (16-1, 12KOs) is advised by Haymon, while Uzbekistan’s Abdukakhorov (17-0, 9KOs) fights under the Top Rank banner, tentatively giving the Feb. 22 show two such matchups pitting the two boxing powerhouses on opposite sides.
The stakes for which Lipinets and Abdukakhorov will fight are still being established, contingent upon another external factor—the recovery process and confirmed ring return of unbeaten and unified welterweight titlist Errol Spence (26-0, 21KOs).
Abdukakhorov is the mandatory challenger to the International Boxing Federation (IBF) welterweight title, one of two belts currently in Spence’s possession. The unbeaten 26-year old challenger was prepared to take a stay busy fight while Spence recovered from physical injuries sustained and any emotional trauma experienced from a single-car crash this past October in downtown Dallas near his hometown of Desoto, Texas. Given the circumstances, the IBF granted Abdukakhorov—who is coming off of a points win over former titlist Luis Collazo in October—the opportunity to take an interim fight, a practice not normally afforded mandatory challengers in waiting.
It appears now as if he could be fighting for the interim title, if not the full version should the title be declared vacant in the coming weeks.
Lipinets fits into the picture as the next-highest rated contender. The no-nonsense former 140-pound titlist from Kazakhstan—who now lives and trains in California—has sought to make his way back to the title scene ever losing his strap in a 12-round decision to Mikey Garcia last March. Three wins have followed, including a 10th round knockout of former two-division title claimant Lamont Peterson in their Fight-of-the-Year level war this past March. He’s since followed with a two-round wipeout of Jayar Inson, a late replacement for an ill John Molina Jr. this past July in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox