Earlier this month we saw the sensationally talented Terence Crawford (32-0, 23) prove his class as he unified the WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF Light Welterweight titles. Sadly his reign with all 4 titles has been a short one, with the fighter vacating the IBF title, rather than have rushed negotiations with mandatory challenger Sergey Lipinets (12-0, 10), and stating the he has plans to move up to the Welterweight division.
For those whohaven't seen Lipinets he wouldn't be favoured against Crawford, but he is an aggressive nightmare and a handful with heavy hands, an aggressive mentality and good boxing skills. Those skills have seen him defeat the likes of Cosme Rivera, Kendal Mena, Haskell Rhodes, Leven Ghvamichava, Walter Castillo and Leonard Zappavigna during his short, and destrutice career.
With Crawford stepping aside we now know that Kazakh born Lipinets will be getting a shot at the now vacant title. The question however is "who will he face?"
The next highest ranked contender behind the Kazakh is Japan's Akihiro Kondo (29-6-1, 16) [近藤 明広]. He's a veteran of the Japanese scene who has been a professional since 2006, has won the Japanese Lightweight title and is the current WBO Asia Pacific Light Weltweight champion. Although unknown outside of Asia he has scored notable wins over the likes of former Oriental champions Ryuji Migaki, and Jimrex Jaca, former Japanese and OPBF champion Yoshitaka Kato and Thai veteran Patomsuk Pathompothong.
If Kondo doesn't fight Lipinets the Kazakh could potentially face Maurice Hooker (23-0-3, 16), in what would be a fun bout between unbeatens, though it is fair to say that Kondo and his team would like to take a world title fight if he's offered it, even against someone as formidable as Lipinets.
(Image courtesy of Ichi Riki promotions)
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