By Lem Satterfield
Sergey Lipinets faces a champion as an underdog for the second time in three bouts in two-division title winner Lamont Peterson on March 24 at The MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill , Maryland. (Fox 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT).
“The Samurai’s” past three fights comprise winning the IBF’s vacant crown in November 2017 by unanimous decision over Akihiro Kondo, being dethroned in the same way after being floored in the seventh round by unbeaten Mikey Garcia in March, and winning his last fight and 147-pound debut in August by unanimous decision over Erick Bone.
It doesn’t get any easier for Lipinets (14-1, 10 KOs) in pursuit of his second straight win in as many 147-pound bouts against Peterson (35-4-1, 17 KOs), who will be supported by partisan fans near his native Washington, D.C.
“Lamont is just like Mikey, having experience on me,” said Lipinets, who joined countrymen Gennady Golovkin (160 pounds), Zhanat Zhakiyanov (118), Beibet Shumenov (175/ 200), Vassiliy Jirov (200) and Oleg Maskaev (heavyweight) who have won crowns.
“But I’ve learned a lot from fighting Mikey Garcia, and as far as being in Lamont’s hometown, I don’t care where we’re fighting because it’s not the first time I’m fighting in someone s hometown. My job is to leave no doubt that I’ve won the fight, and that’s what I’m planning on doing.”
Lipinets’ run of three straight stoppage victories ended against Kondo, who rode an eight-fight winning streak that included six knockouts and five stoppages in a row into their bout on the November 2017 undercard of heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder’s three-knockdown, first-round stoppage of Bermane Stiverne.
Lipinets' other big wins include a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Lydell Rhodes (October, 2015), a fifth-round KO of Levan Ghvamichava (March 2016) and a seventh-round stoppage of Walter Castillo (July 2016).
“If you’ve followed Sergey’s career, you can see that he’s been challenged from the first fight on,” said Alex Vaysfeld, Lipinets’ manager. “It’s not anything new to him or anything he hasn’t seen before. He knows what he has to do and how he’s supposed to approach Lamont.”
It’s a veritable crossroads for Peterson, whose last action was January’s one-knockdown, eighth-round stoppage loss to left-handed IBF 147-pound champion Errol Spence (24-0, 21 KOs), who registered his 10th straight KO four days before Peterson’s 34th birthday.
Before facing Spence, Peterson ended a career-long, 16-month ring absence by making his 147-pound debut in February 2017, a a unanimous decision over David Avanesyan to become a two-division world champion.
“Havoc” Peterson dethroned Amir Khan for his first crown in December 2011, a disputed split-decision earning the IBF and WBA titles. Peterson made three defenses, two by stoppage, before facing Danny Garcia in a 143-pound non-title bout, falling by disputed majority decision in April 2015.
“Sergey has big respect for Lamont, and we watched how he boxed Danny Garcia,” said Vaysfeld of Lipinets, who joined Shumenov, former 140-pound titleholder Chris Algieri and retired heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko as former kick boxers turned boxing title winners.
“We don’t believe Lamont is going to be aggressive, we believe Lamont is going to box. But if Lamont’s going to be aggressive, then it’s going to work into Sergey’s whole plan and work out better for us. We never overlook anybody and Sergey knows exactly what he needs to do.”
Peterson rose from a first-round knockdown against Khan in Washington, D.C., a decision which sparked controversy and an investigation into alleged scoring discrepancies based on a failed appeal by Khan’s then-promoter Golden Boy.
“The judges are being picked by the WBA and are completely neutral,” said Lipinets. “That’s in the contract.”
Peterson's 140-pound defenses were by eighth-round KO of former titleholder Kendall Holt (February 2013), unanimous decision over Dierry Jean (January 2014) and 10th-round TKO against Edgar Santana (August 2014). There was also a non-title, three-knockdown third-round TKO loss to Lucas Matthysse (May 2013).
Peterson rose to 144 pounds in October 2015, winning a hard-fought majority decision over 2008 Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz of the Dominican Republic before facing Avanesyan.
“I don’t like predict my fights,” said Lipinets. “But I’m studying Lamont just as I’m sure as he is studying me, and we’ve been putting together a game plan to beat him and come out victorious one way or another.”