Mikey Garcia got one of the, if not THE, toughest fight of his career Saturday night on Showtime but won handily on the scorecards against a game Sergey Lipinets.
It was a very nice match-up of technically proficient and hard-hitting boxer-punchers. This writer had it closer than most, with a 7th round knockdown the difference for Garcia. The judges scored it 116-111, 117-110 and 115-112.
Garcia started a little faster than usual, but the 1st still took a while to get going as both men feinted and felt each other out. Garcia largely controlled the early rounds with his 1-2. But Lipinets stalked him and started winning rounds around the 4th as he forced Garcia backwards after bloodying his nose.
In the 7th, though, Garcia got sick of it and decided to stand his ground. A blistering exchange seemed to be going Lipinets’ way until Garcia turned the tables with a beautiful counter left hook that dropped Lipinets for the first time in his career.
But as Garcia noted after the fight, he never had Lipinets hurt enough to try to finish him, and while Garcia clearly has good power at 140 pounds, he probably doesn’t have the big-time power he’s had at lower weight classes.
So they exchanged rounds thereafter, with Lipinets winning a higher number of close rounds as he again pushed Garcia back. Still, it wasn’t enough even on my generous scorecard.
Because Garcia was ranked #1 by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board and Lipinets was ranked #2, this ended up establishing a new lineage. The idea was a touch controversial on Twitter. But the fact of the matter is, the 140 pound division doesn’t have a clear #2, and Lipinets proved against an elite opponent that he had a case. As he noted afterward, he just needed more experience.
Garcia is talking about moving down to 135 for a little while longer, then back up to 140 and eventually 147. Maybe he’ll grow into his body as he gets a little older, and he’ll be excellent even above his power range thanks to his intelligence and technique. But the higher he goes, the riskier it gets. He probably ought to stay at 135, really, but he’ll have options for paychecks all over the place if he wants to roll the dice. Still would kill to see him versus Vasyl Lomachencko.
(Mikey Garcia drops Sergey Lipinets with a left; via)