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.
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.