This Friday night, July 15, ESPN’s Premier Boxing Champions is back with a junior welterweight main event between prospect Sergey Lipinets and Walter Castillo. Here’s a look at the matchups for the show.
Sergey Lipinets vs Walter Castillo
Record: 9-0 (7 KO) ... Streak: W9 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 9-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5’7" / 67" ... Age: 27
Thoughts: Lipinets ranked No. 4 on my year-end prospect top five at 140 pounds, behind Jose Ramirez, Regis Prograis, and Ivan Baranchyk. They’re all very good prospects at worst.
Lipinets looked good in his last fight on March 15, starching Levan Ghvamichava in the fifth round with a brutal body shot. The first round rounds had been close and competitive, but Lipinets had the confidence that Ghvamichava would fall before he did, and he was right. If Lipinets has a clear flaw, it’s in his defense. He’s very much an offensive fighter, and Ghvamichava hit him plenty.
His opponent here can punch, so that could conceivably be an issue. But more likely than not, Lipinets is still at the level where even if he’s getting hit, his firepower is going to do the superior damage and end the fight. If nothing else, he has a future as a good action fighter, and that’s always good for us, anyway.
Record: 26-3-1 (19 KO) ... Streak: D1 ... Last 5: 3-1-1 ... Last 10: 8-1-1 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'10" / 71½" ... Age: 27
Thoughts: Walter Castillo last fought on November 7, going to a 12-round majority draw with Keita Obara in Miami. The fight was an IBF 140-pound eliminator, for whatever reason, but he’s not really shown the ability to be a serious contender.
His best win came a year ago, on July 11, 2015, when he beat Ammeth Diaz via third round TKO in Tampa. The Nicaraguan’s losses came in his 2008 pro debut, in 2012 to Vicente Mosquera in Panama, and in April 2015 to then-unbeaten prospect Amir Imam, who pretty much shut Castillo down but didn’t get him out in 10 rounds.
Before his last fight, one of Castillo’s five children passed away. He went through with the fight, and fought it even against a good opponent. Here, he has a chance against a top prospect, but Lipinets is better than Obara, and Castillo’s going to have to be better than he’s ever been to date if he’s going to pull this upset.
Matchup Grade: C. I’ll go C because it’s Lipinets’ 10th pro fight, not his 20th, even if this is arguably a step back. Most likely, it’s just a sideways step. Either way, it’s not really a step forward. Lipinets is worth tuning in to see, because he’s going to be in more serious fights sooner than later.
Tugstsogt Nyambayar vs Rafael Vazquez
Record: 5-0 (5 KO) ... Streak: W5 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 5-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5’6" / N/A ... Age: 24
Thoughts: Mongolian prospect Tugstsogt Nyambayar was an accomplished amateur, winning silver at the 2009 World Amateur Championships, and silver at the 2012 Olympics in London as a flyweight, fighting at 52kg (~114 pounds).
As a pro, he has fought four fights as a super bantamweight and his last as a featherweight. He’s stopped everyone he’s faced thus far, never having to go past the fourth round, and he hasn’t been matched absurdly soft or anything. His last three fights, against veterans Arturo Baldillo, Pedro Melo, and Juan Ruiz, are about the level that makes sense for him at this stage.
Nyambayar was one of the single most exciting fighters at the 2012 Olympics, winning enjoyable fights over Elvin Mamishzada of Azerbaijan (18-11), Vincenzo Picardi of Italy (17-16), Jasurbek Latipov of Uzbekistan (15-10), and Misha Aloyan of Russia (15-11), before losing the gold medal match to Cuba’s Robeisy Ramirez, 17-14. Ramirez, who was then just 18, would have been my vote for the Val Barker Trophy as outstanding boxer of the 2012 Games, and Nyambayar gave him a good fight, and had a terrific run in London.
He didn’t turn pro until March 2015, and fought four times last year. Most recently, he stopped Ruiz in four rounds on May 5 in California. He’s a polished offensive fighter for sure, has power, and is a legit prospect. This is a chance to tune in and see him for the first time if you never have before. I have genuinely high hopes for this guy.
Record: 16-2 (13 KO) ... Streak: L1 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 8-2 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5’7" / 67" ... Age: 38
Thoughts: Born in Puerto Rico, now fighting out of the Bronx, Vazquez is 38, turning pro at age 32 in 2010, fighting in the New York clubs -- places like the Roseland Ballroom, Resorts World Casino in Queens, the BB King Blues Club & Grill, etc.
His first loss came in his ninth pro fight in 2012, when he was upset by Jhovany Collado, a fighter who was 3-6-2 at the time, but had been in the ring with a few decent fighters, young versions of Eric Aiken, Mike Oliver, and Matt Remillard. But he came back from that a year later, knocking out veteran Leon Moore.
In Vazquez’s last fight, he was fairly competitive with Ryan Kielczewski in a 10-round decision loss last October. He doesn’t have much by way of quality victories, but his record suggests that at least he has some power.
Matchup Grade: C. Nyambayar is worth a watch for sure. You’re probably going to see a lot more of him on TV going forward. This is a pretty standard prospect showcase matchup, nothing to get in a fuss over either way.