HOLLYWOOD, Florida – Sergey Lipinets prepared for his non-televised, eight-round fight on the Adrien Broner-Omar Figueroa Jr. undercard as if he would replace Broner or Figueroa in the 12-round main event Saturday night.
That opportunity presented itself Monday morning, when Broner announced his withdrawal from their 140-pound bout to address his mental health. The former IBF junior welterweight champion happily accepted a chance to rejuvenate his career within the weight class in which he has had the most success.
“Sergey never said no to a fight,” Alex Vaysfeld told BoxingScene.com following a press conference Thursday. “He demands to be paid for it, which is fair. But he will never say no to a fight because his life beat him up way, way more than Jaron Ennis ever could.”
Ennis indeed beat up Lipinets in the Kazakhstan native’s most recent fight.
The smart, strong, powerful Philadelphia native stopped Lipinets in the sixth round of an entirely one-sided bout that took place in April 2021 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Ennis sent Lipinets to the canvas twice during a fight Showtime televised, once apiece in the fourth and sixth rounds.
That lopsided loss to Ennis (29-0, 27 KOs, 1 NC) inspired Lipinets to return to the junior welterweight division, where the 33-year-old veteran believes he belongs. Lipinets (16-2-1, 12 KOs) would’ve remained at 140 pounds if not for his exclusion from the World Boxing Super Series’ tournament, which began in 2018.
“The decision to go up to 147 was because the tournament came right after I lost to Mikey Garcia [in March 2018], and I was not included in it,” Lipinets explained. “We tried to get in it, but I was not included in that tournament. So, more or less, there were no names to fight at 140 pounds. It was more of a financial decision to go up to 147. We were offered to fight Lamont Peterson, which was a great fight. I got paid for that and I felt good at 147. Then we were supposed to fight John Molina.
“And then when I fought Jaron Ennis, he was just way too big for me. In the ring, I was probably about 152 pounds. He was probably 160-something. But it’s on me, so we made a decision to go back to 140. And it’s about to happen 140 right here, in this arena. And everybody will see if I’m still a force to be reckoned with at 140. This fight will show it.”
Figueroa (28-2-1, 19 KOs) also has moved back down from welterweight for this “Showtime Championship Boxing” main event at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Like Lipinets, Figueroa will end a long layoff when he enters the ring for the featured attraction of a four-bout broadcast scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET. The 32-year-old Weslaco, Texas native hasn’t boxed since welterweight contender Abel Ramos (27-5-2, 21 KOs) dominated him until their May 2021 bout was stopped following the sixth round at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Figueroa dealt with his own mental health issues after his loss to Ramos, which has brought that important matter to the forefront during the buildup toward this card.
“I don’t even know what that is,” Lipinets said. “I guess they got too much money and too much free time on their hands. I’m too busy taking care of my family, taking care of my [two] kids, everything that I have, so I don’t have time for mental health. I don’t even know what that is. I’m not judging anyone. I’m not saying anything about, ‘Hey, you know, this guy is making stuff up,’ or anything else. Whatever they’re going through, I hope they’re gonna get well.”
Lipinets prefers the type of therapy he’ll experience Saturday night, when he’ll face Figueroa in what is likely to be a more fan-friendly fight than the conservative Broner and Figueroa would’ve produced.
“Stylistically, it’s a win-win fight,” Lipinets said. “Omar is not running around. Omar is going forward and trying to throw punches in bunches. You know me – I’m doing the same thing. I will stay there and mix it up with him. The fans are gonna be ecstatic. I don’t care how much blood is gonna be spilled in that ring. I’m a Samurai. That’s how I feel in my heart. Omar is a real Mexican fighter.
“I’ve been called out on social media by some young up-and-coming fighters, saying, ‘Hey, come on, Lipinets, let’s dance.’ I don’t dance. I fight. All that stuff on social media, they’re making more fights on Twitter than in the ring. And that’s really sad nowadays, because as an old-school fighter. I love to get in the ring. Stop talking. Get in the ring.”
Figueroa wants to revitalize his own career, yet Lipinets, who is listed by most sportsbooks as a 3-1 favorite, cannot envision losing his first fight in 16 months.
“I’m really feeling good,” Lipinets said. “I miss that ring, I miss those lights and I’m hungry. I’m ready to go out there and show the world that I’m still at it. It’s definitely gonna put me right back in a good spot. If I’m gonna reclaim anything in the sport of boxing, that’s the date and time to do it. Winning will put me in a position to fight for all kinds of different things. It’s a very important fight, make it or break it, so to speak.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.