Late last year we saw Kazakh born Russian Sergey Lipinets (13-1, 10) claim the IBF Light Welterweight title as he out pointed Akihiro Kondo a tough and gruelling fight. In his first defense, this past Saturday night, Lipinets battled multi-weight champion Mikey Garcia (38-0, 30), and this time Lipinet's would be unable to come out on top, losing a very tough and damaging fight.
Garcia looked incredible to begin the bout, winning the first two rounds and looking close to untouchable as he controlled the distance, landed some massive right hands and looked amazingly crisp. In round 3 however the fight took a swing towards Lipinets, who busted Garcia's nose and began to make adjustments to avoid some of the right hands Garcia was landing. It wasn't enough to win the round, but it was making life tougher for Garcia.
In the middle rounds Lipinets began to find more and more success, having success with his own jab, and tagging the body of Garcia, who seemed to become a little bit hesitant and held back slightly. It allowed Lipinets to make the middle rounds a little bit more competitive, and at one point it began to look like Garcia was going to be worn down and forced to fight Lipinet's fight.
The success of Lipinets was forgotten somewhat in round 7 when Garcia dropped him with a monstrous hook. The heart Lipinets showed to get to his feet was impressive, and but from there on it seemed like Garcia had a second wind, and a new found belief as he went on to clearly win the following few rounds. At times Lipinets did will to trap Garcia on the ropes, but struggled to do anything with him on them, and despite having moments, he never managed to grab he bout by the scruff off the neck.
The final round came around and it was clear Lipinets had to go big, and to his credit he tried, especially early on and very late, and at one point he did have Garcia in some trouble. Sadly for him however Garcia saw off the storm and landed his own eye catching shots to finish strongly against the tough and offensive Kazakh.
Despite the effort from the Kazakh he had clear lost, the judges saw it a clear win for Garcia with scores of 116-111, and 117-110, twice to become a 4 weight champion and score his latest big win. He not only won, with some ease, but showed his power carries up to Light Welterweight, all the way from Featherweight, and that he is a man who still has a lot left to give the sport, at whatever weight he'll be continuing his career at.
For Lipinets this loss is a serious setback, and despite the loss he will remain a top Light Welterweight, but will also be on that many other contenders will look to avoid give his toughness, desire and power.
The Light Welterweight division was, earlier this year, the only division with an undisputed champion thanks to Terence Crawford. Having conquered the division Crawford stated his intent was to move up, and as a result a number of titles became vacant. One of those was the IBF title, which saw a new champion being crowned on Saturday, as Kazakh born Russian based fighter Sergey Lipinets (13-0, 10) out pointed Japan's Akihiro Kondo (29-7-1, 16) [近藤 明広] in a really tough and draining bout.
The fight started really well for Lipinets, who looked too slick, too fresh and too quick for Kondo early on. The Japanese fighter walked forward through some big shots from Lipinets and it was clear that Kondo's toughness was going to give Lipinets problems with the Japanese fighter showing no fear of Lipinets' much lauded power.
As the fight went on Kondo began to pick up the pace, began to find his range and began to press the tempo, with his body shots beginning to connect almost as often as the ones thrown by Lipinets. The Kazakh seemed to have more power on his shots but he never discouraged Kondo who's body assault in round 3 seemed to take a toll on Lipinet's, who was being forced to work harder than he'd have expected. The increase in work from Lipinets showed in round 4, a very good round for him, but in round 5 it slowed and Kondo began to find cracks. A right hand from Kondo part way through the round seemed to clearly buzz Lipinets, who got on his bike late in the round.
In round Kondo's aggression amped up again and when the two men got too close a headclash left Lipinets with a cut on the hairline. The doctor did look at the cut but it seemed clear that the cut was never going to be fight ending. Itstead of threatening to end the fight early the cut was encouragement for Kondo who had one of his best rounds in round 7, and built on that in rounds 8 and 9 as he began to carve into the lead of Lipinets and make things very interesting. Not only was Kondo having success but Lipinets was beginning to tire and that showed in a pretty low action round 10, where Lipinets used a lot of movement, but threw very little.
Despite looking to have faded over the previous few rounds Lipinets managed to find a second wind in round 11 as he used his skills to make the most of Kondo's mistakes. It was a really good comeback round form Lipinets and left Kondo with work to do in the final 3 minutes, and boy did Kondo go for it. The Japanese warrior took the fight to Lipinets through an action packed final round, with Lipinets being forced to work hard to keep up with Kondo.
Having 12 rounds both men showed the damage of war over their faces, with with both having lumps and bumps visible on their face. Sadly for Kondo though the judges weren't impressed by his success and gave Lipinets the bout with scores of 118-110 and 117-111.
We don't think many would argue too strongly against Lipinets winning, but we also don't see how the bout was so wide. We had the bout 115-113 to Lipinets, Steve Farhood for Showtime had it 114-114 and it was certainly a closer contests than the judges suggest. For Lipinets it was a title win that took some shine off his rise, whilst the loss for Kondo certainly enhanced his profile, and he will likely get another big Stateside fight if he wants one. It was a funny old outcome, but a very good fight.
An amazing fact, but in someways a disappointing one, is that no Japanese fighter has ever won a world title bout in Europe. That record continued earlier today as Japanese Light Welterweight Keita Obara (16-2-1, 15) [小原 佳太] suffered a painful second round loss to Russian puncher Eduard Troyanovsky (25-0, 22) in a bout held in Moscow for the IBF and IBO titles.
The opening round was a close one with both fighting cautiously, neither wanting to over-commit or take too many risks. It saw Obara being tagged by one notable right hand and one uppercut whilst landing one solid right hand of his own, pretty much everything else that connected was a jab with both understanding that the other man had serious power.
Whilst Obara seemed to acquit himself well for the opening round that was all forgotten in round 2 when Troyanovsky moved into third gear and Obara failed to respond before being hurt. A follow up attack sent Obara through the ropes and outside of the ring and immediately saw Troyanovsky celebrate with a backflip. Obara's fighting instinct kicked in and he pulled himself form the ground and back into the ring ring but hadn't recovered from the shots that had sent him out of the ring and and he was stopped soon afterwards from a follow up attack that forced the referee to stop him.
For the champion the this was one of his most impressive performances. A slow start saw him move through the gears, hurt his man and follow up with a vicious attack that leaves the champion as arguably the most destructive fighter at 140lbs today. Maybe not the most skilled, that's obvious Terence Crawford, but the most destructive.
For Obara the next move will be a difficult one. He could go back to Japan and fight at Oriental level, with fights against the likes of Al River and Hiroki Okada being interesting assignments, a move up in weight could also be interesting, with bouts against the likes of Suyon Takayama, Jack Brubaker and Toshio Arikawa. Sadly though the loss, and the nature of it, will be hard to bounce back from and it could be that he takes a long break before considering a ring return.
The Chinese boxing scene has really come alive in recent years with the emergence of the Macao scene. Sadly however that rising in activity and attention has yet to really bare much in terms of success. Earlier this year it was Zou Shiming coming up short, after he tasted the world level against Amnat Ruenroeng, and we've also seen Ma Yi Ming get blitzed by Randy Petalcorin, but today it was Ik Yang (19-1-0-1, 14) who came up short as he was easily out-boxed by Cesar Rene Cuenca (48-0-0-2, 2) in a bout for the IBF Light Welterweight title.
Coming in to the bout Yang was the big betting favourite. He was the puncher, the younger fighter and the man at home. In the end however those advantages didn't matter as Cuenca was so much more skilled than Yang and it was clear from the first round.
From the off Cuenca was on his toes, landing sharp, but light, jabs and straights that found their way through to the target time and time again. The accuracy and consistency of Cuenca's shots, and the intelligence of his footwork was simply too much for Yang, who looked lost. Whilst the start was poor for the Chinese fighter it was made worse by the knockdown call he had against him when he stumbled, off balance, into the ropes.
Following the awful start for Yang things just got worse. Rounds 2,3 and 4 were all 1-sided with Cuenca being far too good for the Chinese fighter who struggled to land more than a handful of shots whilst being tagged frequently by the talented Argentinian veteran.
A rare moment of success for Yang was seen in round 5 when he managed to draw Cuenca into a short lived fire-fight that saw the Argentinian suffer a flash knockdown. It essentially neutralised the opening round knock-down against Yang but did little to turn around the 3 rounds that Yang had lost between the opening and the 5th. Even worse for Yang was the fact it seemed to further build Cuenca's resistance to exchanging shots.
In round 6 seemed to slowly though Yang failed to make the most of his opportunity to close the scores and by the end of the round it looked like Cuenca had re-found his rhythm. The following round saw Yang have one of his better rounds, and in fact it could have gone Yang's way, with the Chinese fighter landing more shots in the round he had in a number of others. Sadly for him it was another fleeting moment of success.
From round 8 to round 11 Cuenca did what he had been doing early on and he controlled Yang with complete ease. The Chinese fighter could do little other than plod forward looking like a fighter without a gameplan and with out any help from his team. The only thing Yang seemed to have was frustration, which was further hindering his cause as he threw some bizarre shots that were never likely to catch a guy like Cuenca.
Going into the final round Yang knew he'd need a KO and for the first time in the fight he fought as if he needed one. From the bell to start the round Yang fought like like a wild man, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Cuenca who was forced to hold on numerous times. During one of those holds Yang tossed his man to the canvas, resulting in a point deduction, though it was clear that he knew it was now or never. Sadly for Yang however it wasn't to be as the clock ran down and the bell rang to end the fight.
For Yang this loss should send him down the rankings though given his style and popularity he should be involved in some exciting bouts whilst maybe even competing in and around the OPBF level, which could make for some very interesting fights. As for Cuenca this win opens up a lot of possibly interesting match ups and despite his lack of a punch it seems clear it's going to take a very good fighter to beat him.
The search for the second Chinese world champion, sadly, continues.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.