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Peterson vs Lipinets: Big fights could await winner at welterweight

Lamont Peterson and Sergey Lipinets need a win to stay in play at 147.

PBC on NBC: Lamont Peterson v Felix Diaz Jr.

We’ve talked a lot lately about how with the way boxing is structured at the moment — split into three big factions who all have a lot of dates to fill — fighters on the fringes of contention are in position to reap big rewards more than ever.

That definitely applies to Lamont Peterson and Sergey Lipinets, who square off on Sunday in a key welterweight main event, headlining a PBC on FS1 card.

A win, and you’re in the mix to fight some of the biggest names in one of boxing’s most glamorous divisions. A loss, and you have to reset and reshuffle at the very least.

Peterson (35-4-1, 17 KO) has been a well-respected fighter for years now. His first major fight came back in 2009, when he challenged Tim Bradley for the WBO title at 140 pounds. Despite a wide decision win for Bradley, Peterson was competitive throughout, and proved he wasn’t someone to take lightly.

He showed that again in 2010, rallying to earn a draw against Victor Ortiz, then knocked out Victor Cayo in 2011 to earn another world title shot, this time against Amir Khan.

Peterson’s Dec. 2011 fight with Khan was one of the most controversial in recent years, taking place in Washington, DC, where Peterson had home field advantage, and highlighting a commission that frankly wasn’t accustomed to major league boxing. In the end, Peterson won a split decision and became a world champion.

The now 35-year-old veteran has been up and down since then. He stopped Kendall Holt in his first title defense, then was overpowered inside of three rounds by Lucas Matthysse in 2013. He won a couple more fights, then faced Danny Garcia in a catchweight bout in 2015. Garcia got the nod, but there was controversy over the scores again, with many feeling Peterson deserved the victory. That would sort of reverse itself in his next outing, as Peterson was given a debatable decision win over Felix Diaz.

He fully moved up to the welterweight division in 2017, beating David Avanesyan for a secondary WBA title, good enough to claim, for all it really matters, that he’s a two-division champion. In Jan. 2018, he was matched against the fast-rising IBF titleholder Errol Spence Jr, and took a beating over seven rounds, not coming out for the eighth.

There was talk that Peterson may retire there, but he’s decided to give the sport at least one more go, and it’s easy to see why. There are a lot of opportunities for credible fighters like Lamont Peterson these days, and while it’s unlikely he’ll face Spence again, you’ve got Keith Thurman (WBA “super world”), Shawn Porter (WBC), and Manny Pacquiao (WBA “world) all in the PBC family, not to mention Danny Garcia is still a top contender and a big name in the weight class.

Sergey Lipinets vs Akihiro Kondo Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Lipinets (14-1, 10 KO) has had a much different career path. A former kickboxer, Lipinets turned to pro boxing in 2014, and looked to move fast. By his sixth pro fight, he was facing the battle-tested Mexican Cosme Rivera, and he put him away in nine rounds.

He followed up solid wins over Haskell Lydell Rhodes, Levan Ghvamichava, Walter Castillo, and Leonardo Zappavigna in 2015-16, and then faced Akihiro Kondo for the vacant IBF 140-pound title in 2017.

Lipinets won a decision over Kondo in a hard-fought, competitive bout that was really closer than the scores might lead one to believe at a glance. He didn’t get long to bask in the title win, though, because a belt puts a target on your back in boxing.

Just four months later, he faced Mikey Garcia, who had already won titles at 126, 130, and 135. Garcia didn’t dominate Lipinets, who stood his ground and made it a fight, but Mikey did get a deserved points victory, and Lipinets decided to move up to 147.

He made his welterweight debut last August, five months after the loss to Garcia, and it didn’t quite go as hoped. Matched against durable Ecuadorian Erick Bone, Lipinets went the distance and picked up a majority decision victory. Two judges had it wide for Sergey, but he had some legitimate struggles in that fight.

Peterson is a step up from Bone, so Lipinets will probably need to be better than he was that night. Then again, Peterson is coming off of a year-plus layoff and took some serious lumps in his last fight, and he’s not getting any younger, either.

The really good news for fight fans is that on paper, this should be an entertaining scrap. Peterson and Lipinets both fight hard and can get really physical. That may favor the younger Lipinets, but Peterson probably still has the edge in pure boxing skills, too, if he wants to go that route and can keep Lipinets at bay.

PBC on Spike: Adrien Broner v Ashley Theophane Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Sunday’s card will also feature the return of Lamont’s younger brother Anthony, who just turned 34 about a week ago. Once upon a time, Anthony was every bit the up-and-comer that Lamont was, but things fell apart for him in a 2010 fight with fellow rising lightweight prospect Brandon Rios.

Peterson (37-1, 24 KO) started well enough in the opening round of that fight, but then got into a brawl with Rios, which was rarely a smart idea for anyone against the 135-pound version of Brandon Rios. Rios dropped Peterson in the fifth round, and Anthony responded with roughly 210 low blows in the next round and change, losing two points in the sixth and getting himself disqualified in the seventh.

After that, Anthony’s career pretty much flatlined. He didn’t fight again for 15 months, and hasn’t fought anyone really close contention in the eight-plus years since the meltdown against Rios. He fought once in 2011, once in 2013, twice in 2014, twice in 2015, once in 2016, and once in 2018, a shutout decision win that was changed to a no-contest when Peterson tested positive for a banned substance.

Now competing at junior welterweight, he faces Argenis Mendez (25-5-1, 12 KO) in a 10-round fight on Sunday. The 32-year-old Mendez is a former titleholder at 130 pounds, and after a stint as a lightweight, has now moved up to 140. He’s always been a solid, tough fighter, and his last two fights have been wins over Ivan Redkach and Eddie Ramirez. If Anthony’s ever going to make a real move in boxing, he obviously has to beat Mendez.

Also on the card, former super middleweight titleholder and longtime contender Sakio Bika (34-7-3, 22 KO) will return a month shy of his 40th birthday for his first fight since Oct. 2017. Bika, who unsuccessfully challenged for titles against Markus Beyer in 2006, Joe Calzaghe five months later that same year, Lucian Bute in 2007, and Andre Ward in 2010, finally won the WBC belt in 2013, beating Marco Antonio Periban. He lost it 14 months later to Anthony Dirrell, in a rematch of a fight that had gone to a draw. He also lost his next bout to light heavyweight titleholder Adonis Stevenson in 2015, but won a couple lower-level fights in 2017.

Bika will be facing Lionell Thompson (20-5, 11 KO), a 33-year-old veteran light heavyweight who has faced and lost to the likes of Sergey Kovalev, Radivoje Kalajdzic, and Edwin Rodriguez. Thompson is coming off of a Sept. 2018 win over journeyman Derrick Findley.

Prelim fights will begin at 6 pm ET on FS1, with the main card scheduled to start at 8 pm ET, also on FS1.

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