Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York - In the opening bout of the telecast, unbeaten top contender Sergey Lipinets (13-0, 10 KOs) earned the vacant IBF Junior Welterweight World Championship with a unanimous decision victory over Japanese veteran Akihiro Kondo (29-7-1, 16 KOs). The judges scored the fight118-110, 117-111 and 117-111.
The belt became vacant a few months ago after unified champion Terence Crawford dropped the belt in preparation of his move to the welterweight limit of 147 pounds. Lipinets was the mandatory challenger to the belt, with Kondo as the highest available contender.
The back-and-forth 12-round world championship fight saw Lipinets control the early rounds with a diversified, creative attack targeting Kondo's body.
An accidental clash of heads in the sixth round, which opened up a deep cut on the forehead of Lipinets, altered the momentum of the fight as Kondo gained confidence and was able to land some powerful punches to the head and body of Lipinets.
The 28-year old Lipinets, who earned the title in just his 13th professional fight, was able to regain control in the later rounds to earn the unanimous win.
"I think the scorecards were accurate but it was a good fight," said Lipinets. "The head-butt really impaired my vision and it led to me walking into some stupid shots.
"I'm happy with my performance. I'm just going to keep getting better from here. I'm ready to take any on challenge thrown my way."
Kondo, who was fighting for the first time in the United States, proved a worthy opponent on the night. "It was a fair decision," said Kondo, through a translater. "He hit me with a lot of hard punches and I felt like I needed at least a knockdown in the last round.
"I made up my mind that I wasn't going to show any pain or fear from his punches. I was determined to keep fighting all night."