By Keith Idec
Sergey Lipinets was pleasantly surprised when Mikey Garcia agreed to fight him.
The newly crowned IBF junior welterweight champion campaigned for a big fight after he won that title November 4. He just didn’t expect it to come against Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs), who admits he is probably better off fighting at lightweight, five pounds lower than the 140-pound limit at which he’ll challenge Lipinets (13-0, 10 KOs) on Saturday night in San Antonio.
“There were a couple of names on the table who we were looking at when I won the title,” Lipinets told BoxingScene.com through a translator. “I was really surprised Mikey Garcia took the fight. I’m happy he did. I thank him a lot for that. Whatever reason they used and whatever they looked at for taking the fight – because we know the Garcias don’t take fights that they might not win – I’m gonna make sure I prove otherwise.”
Kazakhstan’s Lipinets is certain Garcia made a mistake by accepting their 12-round, 140-pound title fight at Freeman Coliseum. The 28-year-old champion feels he’ll be too big and too strong for the three-division champion from Oxnard, California, when they square off in a “Showtime Championship Boxing” main event at Freeman Coliseum.
Lipinets went the distance in his last fight for just the third time in his four-year pro career. The opponent Lipinets beat to win the then-vacant IBF junior welterweight title, Japan’s Akihiro Kondo (29-7-1, 16 KOs), has never been knocked out, or even knocked down.
“Maybe they looked at my last fight, when I won the championship,” Lipinets said, “and they saw something, that I have vulnerabilities of some kind, that I have holes in my game. Whatever they saw, it’s gonna be different when we step in the ring. … I’m a champion of the world right now and he’ll have to pry my title out of my dead hands to get it from me.”
Garcia-Lipinets will headline a Showtime doubleheader that’ll start Saturday night at 10:15 p.m. ET.
The opener of the broadcast will match Cuba’s Rances Barthelemy (26-0, 13 KOs) against Belarus’ Kiryl Relikh (21-2, 19 KOs) in a 12-round rematch for the vacant WBA super lightweight title. Barthelemy defeated Relikh by 12-round unanimous decision in their first fight, which took place May 20 at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.