Mikey Garcia had to dig deeper than perhaps ever before, but he picked up a title in a fourth weight class by out-slugging the extraordinarily game Sergey Lipinets in San Antonio tonight.
Lipinets (13-1, 10 KO), a major underdog after an underwhelming performance against Akihiro Kondo, fought his ass off, pushing the action and landing quality shots to Garcia’s (38-0, 30 KO) head and body. Despite his efforts, though, Garcia’s punches were just too sharp, particularly the 1-2 that he used to excellent effect.
Lipinets was competitive throughout, especially with his straight right to the body, but just couldn’t quite power through Garcia’s technique. He appeared to be getting back into the fight in the seventh round, landing some blistering counters, but a left hook from Garcia resulted in the first knockdown of Lipinets’ career and caused a swing he had no hope of overcoming.
Still, I think both men’s stocks went up. Lipinets showed that he’s no paper champ and Garcia proved he could handle a big, strong puncher. Can’t wait to see where both of them go from here.
The co-feature saw Kiryl Relikh put on the best fight of his career in a one-sided decision over Rances Barthelemy. After a hugely controversial decision loss in their first meeting, Relikh (22-2, 19 KO) came out looking to prove a point, burying Barthelemy (26-1, 13 KO) in volume.
Relikh brilliantly exploited Barthelemy’s passivity by constantly throwing mid-power punches to keep the Cuban’s guard up and set up his bigger shots. Though Barthelemy landed some decent body shots, there just wasn’t near enough of them. “Kid Blast’s” best punches wound up being his egregious low blows, which included a straight left directly to the junk in the last few seconds of the fight.
In total, Relikh threw over 1200 punches and looked like he had enough gas left over to throw another thousand if need be. Thankfully, the judges gave his efforts the credit they deserved, handing him the WBA super lightweight title on scores of 117-110, 118-109, and 118-109. I had it 118-109 and could conceivably see one more round for Barthelemy, so no complaints here.
The undercard was highlighted by violent finishes from Richard Commey (over Alejandro Luna) and local boy Mario Barrios (over Eudy Bernardo), the former of which put Commey in line for a rematch with IBF lightweight champ Robert Easter Jr.
For the full round-by-round of the main attractions, click here.