By Anthony "Zute" George
Sergey Lipinets (13-0, 10 KO’s) defends his IBF 140-pound title against Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30 KO’s), Saturday night in San Antonio, Texas. Lipinets won the title courtesy of a unanimous decision over Akihiro Kondo back in November.
Mikey Garcia has previously held the title in the Featherweight, Super Featherweight and Lightweight divisions, and is coming off a dominate performance over Adrien Broner, his first fight in the 140-pound division.
Most boxing pundits consider Mikey Garcia one of the best boxers in the world. The fact that he is fighting for his fourth world title supports this claim. Sergey Lipinets is a well-rounded pugilist, who is much more than a tough guy inside the squared circle. This fight promises to provide boxing fans with plenty of thrilling action. Let’s break it down.
The Pros: A well-rounded boxer with an Eastern European background. Accurate puncher who does not waste a lot of energy. Showcases good lateral movement and is comfortable as an aggressor. Goes to the body well with jabs and hooks, and is well-versed in setting up fighters for punchers. Mean left hook that comes off the jab well. Battled tested. Has showed us that the sight of his own blood is not a deterrent.
The Cons: Has a decent defense, but is vulnerable to a jab, as well as a classic one-two. Only 13 professional fights, a major disadvantage against a fighter such as Garcia. Better fighter at range than in close, a major weakness in this fight if Mikey choses to expose it. Has had significant cuts in fights.
The Pros: Always in great position and throws every punch in a correct and accurate manner. Power in both hands. A master at cutting off the ring. Great inside fighter who can find the body and is lethal in both hands. A ton of experience and has lost very few rounds a professional.
The Cons: May be looking past Sergey, as talks of big money fights seem to occupy the narrative much more than this fight. Tends to fight in spurts and takes time off during rounds. Might have left his power at the lighter weights, despite dominating Broner, he never had him in down or in serious trouble.
Mikey Garcia is a heavy favorite, as well as he should be. There is very little he does wrong in the ring and has been on a roll since his return from his legal battle
With that said, I give Lipinets a better chance than many to win this fight. He is by far the best fighter Mikey has faced in a while. Sergey is the natural 140-pound guy.
So, even though Tony Luis, the WBA-NABA Lightweight Champion, recently pointed out, Garcia is a “big, thick, guy”, Sergey should have the strength advantage.
If Sergey can touch Mikey’s body early, I can see him setting up, and hurting, Garcia with his left hook in the middle/late rounds. Sergey slips punches better than he gets credit for and is a better offensive fighter at distance, a perfect remedy for landing a punch your opponent does not see coming.
For Garcia to win this fight he must establish that he is the boss right away and crowd Lipinets. With his ability to cut of the ring, this scenario has a great chance of bearing fruit.
If Mikey executes this tactic, it is an easy, and a potentially quick fight for him. Although, if he could not stop Broner, I do not like his chances of stopping Lipinets, unless it is on cuts.
I think Garcia might want to keep this fight at distance, out of respect for the Lipinets left hook. I think this tactic plays right into the hands of Lipinets. Although Garcia has a great jab and Lipinets can be touched with a solid jab. Indeed, there is no easy scenario in this fight, a great match-up that I think is being mistaken as a mismatch.
If Lipinets wins, it would be hard to top it as upset of the year; even though I think it is very close to an even fight. Lipinets should then face the winner of the Ivan Baranchyck vs. Petr Petrov fight that takes place on Friday, or, the Rances Barthelemy vs. Kiryl Relikh undercard fight Saturday night.
If Mikey wins, he will become a four-weight world champion and will most likely face the winner of the Rances Barthelemy vs. Kiryl Relikh fight, to unify the 140-pound titles. Mikey can also return to the lightweight division to face fellow champion, Jorge Linares, or, push for a Super Fight against Vasyl Lomachenko.
Regardless of the outcome, the fans should be the big winners.
So, what will that outcome be?
Prediction: I think it will be very difficult for Sergey to win a decision. Garcia will be the crowd favorite and is the kind of A-side fighter who will get every benefit and chance to feel comfortable before the fight, even though Sergey Lipinets is the champion defending his title. It is, after all, the Texas Athletic Commission we are talking about, Yikes!
With that said, I do not see the fight going the distance anyway. We will see early that Mikey has overlooked Sergey and get hurt. Mikey will then try to establish his jab and be surprised by Sergey’s own formidable jab and counter-puncher skills. Because he is supposed to win this fight,
Garcia will get every chance to come back in this fight and may even rally in the middle rounds. However, Lipinets’ Eastern European toughness and kick boxing background will provide the champion with the second wind he will indeed need. Lipinets will drop Garcia with a left hook off his jab, a punch he will be setting up all night, and stop Mikey Garcia in round 10.
Zutes Boxing Talk on Blog Talk Radio & thegruelingtruth.net.