This coming Saturday is an interesting day for fight fans, and potentially the bout of the day is a bit of a hidden gem, as Kazakh born Russian Sergey Lipinets (12-0, 10) faces off with Japanese warrior Akihiro Kondo (29-6-1, 16) for the IBF Light Welterweight title. The bout is on US TV but the reality is that American fans won't be massively familiar with either man, and will instead be tuning in for some of the bigger names on offer, such as Deontay Wilder and Shawn Porter. Despite not tuning in particularly for Lipinets Vs Kondo the bout does have a good chance of stealing the show.
Of the two men the one more well known by Western fans will be Lipinets. This will be his 9th bout on US soil and follows notable wins over the likes of Cosme Rivera, Haskell Rhodes, Levan Ghvamichava and Leonardo Zappavigna. During those bouts Lipinet's has shown his exciting, heavy handed and calculated style. As with many of the rising Central Asian fighters Lipinets is well schooled and hits like a hammer, with every shot he lands being thudding. He's not a man the quickest or the most slick but he's got under-rated nuances, both offensively and defensively.
At time Lipinets can look a little slow and even one paced, though it seems like he's sometimes taking his time to read his opponent, and then slowly cranks it up after he's gotten a good look the man in the opposite corner. When he does up things he looks really good and throws some really varied body shots, with his left hook to the mid-section completely destroying the teak tough Ghvamichava last year.
Although unbeaten and talented Lipinets hasn't always had things his own way. He lost a number of rounds against Zappavigna before stopping the Aussie last December, and it does seem like the way to beat him is on points. Crowding him up close and stopping him from getting extension on his shots is key to beating him, as is out working him, without taking too much punishment. That is however easier said than done and when Lipinets lets his shots go they are damaging, and although Zappavigna had some success he was left cut, and beaten up at the end, being ground into submission.
Unless you're a Japanese fans there is a good chance you won't have seen Kondo, or even know that much about him. The is despite the fact that the 32 year old is an 11 year professional with 36 bouts and reigns as the Japanese Lightweight and WBO Asia Pacific Light Welterweight champion. Whilst you may not have seen Kondo he has been a notable part of an intriguing Japanese scene at 135 and 140, which has seen him twice face off with Yoshitaka Kato and Nihito Arakawa. Other notable foes to have faced Kondo include Patomsuk Pathompothong, Ricky Sismundo, Jimrex Jaca and Ryuji Migaki.
Like Kato and Arakawa it's fair to say that Kondo is teak tough, a proper hard nut like many Japanese fighters are. He's yet to suffer a stoppage loss, and has gone 10 or more rounds in 5 different bouts. He has shown his toughness, energy and warrior mentality, though has come up short a number of times, losing by split or majority decision 4 times, a technical decision once and a razor thin loss in one other bout. He can be out boxed and out brawled, but he's always coming to fight, and does hit harder than his record suggests, especially in recent years ith 5 straight stoppages coming into this bout.
Kondo has stated that he will be looking to use his speed here, though the truth is that he's not that quick, and the reality is that he's likely to be dragged into a war sooner rather than later. When that happens we'll see how tough Kondo is at this level, and how willing he is to take the power of Lipinets. If he can take one to land one then we could be in for something very special.
We suspect that Lipinets' better skills and heavier hands will be too much for Kondo in the middle rounds, but until we get that far we're expecting to see an all action bout. Kondo will likely try to box and move early on before getting dragged more and more into a war, before we finally get a show stealing fire fight. When that happens we expect Lipinets to come out on top, but not until the fans have had something to remember.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.