Sergey Lipinets was a late replacement for Adrien Broner, but fought like the star attraction in a brutal TKO victory over Omar Figueroa Jr. It’s a dominant showing for Lipinets in his return to 140 pounds, and possibly the end of the line for Figueroa after a terrible beating led to his father and cornerman stopping the fight after eight rounds.
Things started out like Lumberjack Games with gloves on, as both men were chopping at each other right out of the gate. Figueroa (28-3-1, 19 KO) fought with the intention of smothering Lipinets against the ropes and bullying him. But, Lipinets (17-2-1, 13 KO) was defensively tight and countered brilliantly, putting Figueroa down with about a minute left in round 2 on a short right hook that landed perfectly.
Figueroa got up, but Lipinets was in control from then on, with the fifth round in particular turning into target practice for him. Figueroa landed one big punch in the sixth, but Lipinets continued to pound him and the fight probably should have been stopped by Figueroa’s corner at that point.
Figueroa said before the fight that the outcome tonight would likely determine his future in the sport. That may have played a part in his team’s reluctance to throw in the towel. And Lipinets was largely punishing Figueroa with counters and short combinations that didn’t really give any immediate cause for the referee to stop the fight to protect him.
The corner threatened to stop the fight after the seventh round, but sent Figueroa out again anyway for another ugly round before finally calling it off before the start of the ninth.
After the fight, Figueroa said “I guess my body is just done,” and refused to make excuses based on the late switch from Broner to Lipinets. He told Showtime’s Jim Gray that he thinks his time in the sport is over, apologized to fans and promoters for his performance, and encouraged everyone suffering with mental health problems not to give up on life.
Figueroa vs Lipinets highlights
Alberto Puello SD-12 Batyr Akhmedov
The co-main event was a tight, back-and-forth affair that saw Alberto Puello and Batyr Akhmedov take turns imposing their style on each other throughout 12 close, hard fought rounds.
Puello (21-0, 10 KO) looked very sharp early, moving well and landing harder and cleaner than Akhmedov in the first three rounds. Akhmedov (9-2, 8 KO) started putting and keeping Puello on the ropes more consistently starting in the fourth, and hurt Puello downstairs late in round 6.
The whole night was a see-saw where Akhmedov would pressure Puello into the ropes and corners to blast him with body shots, then Puello would get his movement going again and whip savage right hooks over Akhmedov.
An excellent 12th round was a microcosm of the whole fight. Both men took turns attacking and countering in close quarters, and three reasonable observers could very easily and justifiably see it three different ways. Bad Left Hook had it even at 114-114 on our unofficial score. The official judges were split with two favoring Puello 117-111, while one scored it 115-113 for Akhmedov.
117-111 feels a little wide from an overall view of the fight as a whole. But, fights are scored round by round, and any judge who really preferred Puello’s work saw him do it in enough rounds to justify the card.
Puello picks up the WBA 140 pound title vacated by Josh Taylor, and emotion made him a little disrespectful after the decision was announced as he pointed at Akhmedov’s corner and made throat slashing gestures. Not a great closing look for a fighter who otherwise looked pretty great while the action was underway.
Hector Garcia UD-12 Roger Gutierrez
Roger Gutierrez fought an absolutely baffling fight against Hector Garcia, and it cost him his WBA belt. Flat out, Gutierrez (26-4-1, 20 KO) largely surrendered the first eight rounds through an inability or unwillingness to lead or counter with any consistency.
Garcia (16-0, 10 KO) controlled the pace, led the action, and never really faced any adversity other than falling down once in what was rightfully ruled a slip in the fourth round. There was nothing as dramatic as Garcia’s knockdown of Chris Colbert earlier this year, but Garcia was once again dominating the fight. Garcia controlled things so thoroughly that Gutierrez’s corner threatened to stop the fight after round 8 if Gutierrez didn’t start showing something.
That may have been the spark Gutierrez needed, as he finally came alive and did some nice work in the last four rounds, putting Garcia against the ropes and landing some heavy hooks and straight right hands. But, it all came way too late, and Garcia won a unanimous decision, with one judge scoring it 118-110 and two others turning in 117-111 cards. Bad Left Hook also had it 117-111 for Garcia.
It was an odd fight that arguably leaves both men looking worse than when it started. Gutierrez spent 2/3rds of the fight standing around and watching his belt slip through his fingers. And when Gutierrez actually started attacking, Garcia looked troubled and potentially overwhelmed.
But, Garcia deserved the decision, and he carries on undefeated after a fantastic 2022 that started with him largely unknown and now sees him wearing a super featherweight belt.
Brandun Lee UD-10 Will Madera
In the opener, Brandun Lee went the distance for the second consecutive fight. But, he almost lost his undefeated record after getting caught and dropped by an absolutely crushing counter shot from Will Madera.
Lee (26-0, 22 KO) started well, landing thumping shots early and landing an uppercut that cut the right eye of Madera (17-2-3, 10 KO) in round 2. But Madera was landing counters over Lee’s low lead guard, and moving well early.
In the third, Madera timed a perfect counter that caught Lee square on the chin and put him down for the first time in his career. Lee fell hard, got up wobbly, and looked in serious trouble until the bell gave him a break.
Madera pushed hard in the fourth, but Lee started returning fire around halfway through the round. Lee let a few more counters through, but never seemed in trouble and largely controlled the fight the rest of the way. All judges scored every round the same, returning a unanimous decision for Lee on 98-91 cards.
Lee is still just 23, and said afterwards that he just got careless after thinking Madera didn’t have the power to threaten him. This fight will either be a critical lesson that helps Lee develop and realize his tantalizing potential, or the blueprint that future opponents with more power will use to derail him. He’s already on the cusp of a top 10 ranking with the IBF, so we may find out sooner than later.