Mikey Garcia Outclasses Sergey Lipinets, Becomes Four-Division Titleholder
Mikey Garcia joined an elite club on Saturday night, becoming one of just three male boxers to win world titles at featherweight, junior lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight.
The other two? Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, two of the best fighters ever.
Garcia added the fourth division to his collection by outclassing Sergey Lipinets, dropping him once en route to a unanimous decision victory. Lipinets was a promising titleholder — relatively early in his career and lacking experience against high-level opponents — but he’d shown talent. And you could see glimpses of that talent from Lipinets while he fought Garcia.
The problem was that he was fighting Garcia.
After a slow first, Garcia showed that he’d used the traditional feeling-out round to study Lipinets and had discovered something. The second round brought a series of right hands. Garcia would send out the jab, leading Lipinets to bend to his right, leading Lipinets into the path of the right hand that followed. By the third round, the right hand had landed with enough regularity and enough force to bring blood from Lipinets’ nose.
Lipinets had moments of success. Garcia made sure to limit those moments by coming blasting back, making sure that his blows were remembered more by the judges scoring from ringside.
Garcia has an impressively varied arsenal. He mixes up his shots well. He times and places his punches well. He sets up traps. He is technically sound. And he’s skilled on defense, comfortable in the pocket, and blessed with a good chin.
He calmly stood in front of his bigger opponent in the seventh round, took a left hook and a right hand, and soon retaliated with more emphasis. Lipinets missed a right uppercut from too far away, then tried a a left hook. But he brought his right hand back too low in the process, and Garcia spotted an opening, countering with a left hook and dropping Lipinets to the canvas.
Lipinets wasn’t overly discouraged. He continued to try and was able to land clean on occasion. Garcia never was shaken and didn’t appear to take much damage. There was no question who the winner was when the final bell sounded, and the judges agreed, two of them seeing it 117-110 for Garcia (nine rounds to three, with an extra point deducted from Lipinets for the knockdown), and the other seeing it 116-111 (eight rounds to four).
Garcia improves to 38-0 with 30 knockouts. He’s been on an impressive run since returning to the sport back in mid-2016. He’d spent more than two years away due to a dispute with his now-former promoter. But he shook off the rust with a win over Elio Rojas, then easily knocked out Dejan Zlaticanin last year for a world title at 135, defeated Adrien Broner later in the year, and has now added Lipinets’ belt to his collection.
He’s a rarity in the sport, someone with titles in two divisions at the same time.
“What I love is I have all the options,” Garcia said afterward. “I could go down to 135 to unify titles, which is what I really want to do.”
Vasyl Lomachenko and lightweight titleholder Jorge Linares are expected to fight this spring. The other two guys with belts are Ray Beltran and Robert Easter Jr.
Meanwhile at 140, the division is finding a new shape ever since Terence Crawford unified all four world titles and then vacated them to move up to 147. Lipinets was able to win one of those belts. Kiryl Relikh just captured another on the Lipinets-Garcia undercard. Jose Ramirez and Amir Imam will fight for a third later this week. The fourth will belong to the winner of April’s fight between Terry Flanagan and Maurice Hooker.
Garcia’s trainer says that 135 is his best division, but the landscape at 140 is such that Garcia could do plenty of damage.
He’s aiming for even greater things, however.
“In a couple of fights, you’re going to see me at 147,” he said.
Lipinets, meanwhile, fell to 13-1 with 10 KOs. He deserves a chance to rebound and mix it up with any of the many names listed above. While he’d of course have preferred to win on Saturday night against a fighter of Garcia’s caliber, this defeat could end up being good for him.
“I want to go back in the gym and work on the problems I showed in the ring,” he said afterward. “There are a couple of holes I need to close. I’ll be back. It’s a learning experience.”
Oscar Valdez Remains Undefeated After Grueling Victory Over Scott Quigg
Oscar Valdez gambled and won, taking a unanimous decision over Scott Quigg in a fight that he otherwise would’ve had every right to pull out of at the last minute.
He took a risk and reaped the reward, but he also went through hell in the process.
Valdez left with his jaw injured, possibly broken, with his teeth damaged, with blood pouring out of his mouth and onto his chest. But he also left with his featherweight world title defended for the fourth time, triumphing in yet another battle, and doing so in the main event on national television on ESPN.
It was unclear earlier in the day whether the fight would even take place at all.
Quigg had come in massively overweight — at 128.8 pounds rather than at 126, closer to the junior lightweight limit than the featherweight limit. He’d also refused a second weigh-in the morning of the event, a measure often put in place in such situations to keep an overweight fighter from rehydrating too much and having an even greater size advantage.
(It was ultimately revealed that Quigg had suffered a foot injury during training camp about four weeks ago, hadn’t been able to train the way he would’ve preferred, and struggled in his attempt to drop the final few pounds in the time leading up to the weigh-in).
But Valdez and Quigg were able to make a deal. Quigg’s failure to make weight meant he couldn’t win the world title, but a victory would still help his career. Valdez wanted the fight, wanted the chance to defeat the former 122-pound titleholder, even if he was potentially coming in with the odds stacked against him. Quigg came in that night at 142.2 pounds, while Valdez was up to 135.6. Perhaps Quigg would be able to punch harder now, and maybe Quigg would be better able to walk through Valdez’s shots.
Given the situation, Valdez came in with a good approach. He dug into Quigg’s body, going around Quigg’s guard and trying to take the steam out of him. And Valdez fired shots and combinations and then moved, hoping to avoid getting caught and dropped like had happened against Genesis Servania last September.
Quigg continued to come forward, even if he wasn’t throwing as much as Valdez. And he began to find a home for his overhand right. The pace began to wear on Valdez, and Quigg came on in the fifth. Valdez was able to land a punch that opened a cut over Quigg’s left eye, but Quigg quickly retaliated, catching Valdez pulling away with his hands down, landing a right hand that wobbled Valdez’s legs.
Valdez made it out of the round, though blood was now coming from his mouth. He caught his second wind by the seventh round, throwing and moving better, and began unleashing extended combinations in the eighth. Quigg was still right there, landing good punches, trying to drag Valdez into a war and land another heavy blow.
Valdez returned to the punch that had brought him so much success early on, landing body shot after body shot near the end of the ninth, doing enough damage that Quigg lowered his arms out of self-preservation. Quigg was also forced to cover up early in the 10th, a round that saw his nose busted up as well.
They continued to exchange, treating the crowd who’d remained in the outdoor arena despite a steady rain. Quigg dropped Valdez toward the end of the 11th with a right hand well below the belt. Valdez took a little bit of time to recover from the low blow, then shook Quigg with a good counter left hook.
That was the theme of the night: Quigg fought hard, but Valdez outworked and outlanded him. The fight was more competitive than the scorecards indicated. Two judges had it 117-111 (nine rounds to three for Valdez), while the third had it 118-110 (10 rounds to two). Nevertheless, Valdez was the rightful winner.
He is now 24-0 with 19 KOs. His previous two fights — decision victories over Miguel Marriaga and Servania — helped prepare him to go the distance and fight through tough moments against Quigg. Perhaps a fight with the winner of Carl Frampton vs. Nonito Donaire could be soon. He still has some flaws to work on, some weaknesses to shore up before then.
Quigg, meanwhile, falls to 34-2-2 with 25 KOs. His other defeat came against Frampton in 2016, back when both were junior featherweights. Quigg will have to decide whether he can still make 126 given a better training camp. He still has a name and talent, and there are plenty of good fights available at featherweight. Otherwise, a move to 130 may need to come in the near future.
Arnold Barboza Ready for Next Level After Outpointing Mike Reed
Arnold Barboza vs. Mike Reed was a battle to decide which of the two prospects would have more of a future in the junior welterweight division. Barboza was undefeated, while Reed was coming off a loss. Yet Barboza hadn’t fought anyone on the level of the guy who’d beaten Reed.
It wouldn’t matter what level of opponent Barboza had faced before. All that mattered was that Barboza was better than Reed, winning a clear unanimous decision in a 10-round fight on the undercard of Valdez vs. Quigg.
Barboza is tall for the division at 5-foot-9, and he used his height and reach advantages well against the shorter Reed. He was able to catch Reed at a distance with straight right hands early on, able to step away with ease to evade Reed, and able to land counter right hands when Reed approached.
Reed did find some success early with counter right hooks. But then Barboza sent a message with a good right hand in the third, a shot that seemed to wobble Reed, though in truth Reed had stumbled over Barboza’s foot. Still, Barboza seemed to land that right hand with regularity. And when he needed rest, he could just move to establish distance.
Reed was able to get inside more in the middle rounds. He didn’t have enough pop in his hands to hurt Barboza, nor was he landing enough to win enough rounds down the stretch. Two judges saw it 97-93, or seven rounds to Barboza and three for Reed, while the third judge had it 96-94, or six rounds to four.
Barboza is now 18-0 with 6 KOs. While he hasn’t shown much power, this was a good win in a good test, which means it’s a good time for him to step up and see how he fares against the next level at 140.
Reed is now 23-2 with 12 KOs. This was his second straight loss; he got stopped in two rounds by Jose Ramirez just last November. Reed came back quickly, and he didn’t come back easy. He didn’t get the result he wanted, however, and he learned something about himself in the process. Reed tweeted afterward that he’ll be moving down to the lightweight division.