Mikey Garcia Becomes a Four-Division World Champion with Unanimous Decision Over Sergey Lipinets


Credit Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

Mikey Garcia captured a world title in his fourth weight division, outpointing previously undefeated Sergey Lipinets to win the IBF Junior Welterweight World Championship Saturday on SHOWTIME from Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio.

With the victory, Garcia (38-0, 30 KOs) joined Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez as the only fighters in history to win titles at 126, 130, 135 and 140 pounds.

“It’s a great feeling. Winning this fourth title in a fourth division is an honor,” Garcia said. “To get to be mentioned with Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez is a huge honor for me. It just leaves a little chapter in boxing with my name, my brother, my dad. I think people will remember the Garcia family for ages to come.”

Garcia, who was fighting for just the second time at 140 pounds, relied on a steady diet of combos to back up Lipinets, who was making the first defense of the IBF title he won last November on SHOWTIME. Garcia floored Lipinets for the first time in his career, connecting on a counter left hook midway through the seventh in a rousing moment that sent the pro-Garcia crowd at Freeman Colisuem to their feet.

Garcia, who won by scores of 116-111 and 117-110 twice, connected on 46 percent of his power shots compared to 36 percent for the defending champion.

“He came in exactly as I expected – a very tough, very hungry and strong fighter,” Garcia said. “We worked with angles behind the jab. He’s very dangerous, but we had a great game plan and we were able to prevail.

“I know I carry the power, but I was fighting a bigger man and he could take a punch. I didn’t want to get caught and I had to be patient.”

After the fight, Garcia, who still holds the WBC title at lightweight, reiterated his mantra that he’s seeking the biggest fights available, regardless of weight division.

“What I love is I have all the options,” Garcia said. “I could go down to 135 to unify titles, which is what I really want to do. And in a couple of fights you’re going to see me at 147.

Despite being the defending champion, Lipinets (13-1, 10 KOs) was fighting in just his 14th professional fight. The Russian, who was born in Kazakhstan, delivered a valiant effort against one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.

“It was probably experience that took over at some point,” Lipinets said. “Mikey is a great fighter, he can obviously crack. It was just experience that I was lacking.

“I want to go back in the gym and work on the problems I showed in the ring. There are a couple of holes I need to close. I’ll be back. It’s a learning experience.”

In a rematch of one of 2017’s best and most controversial fights, Kiryl Relikh handed former two-division world champion Rances Barthelemy the first loss of his career with a wide unanimous decision victory to capture the vacant WBA Super Lightweight World Championship.

Relikh (22-2, 19 KOs) was the more active fighter and controlled the co-main event of the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast from the opening bell, throwing 1,237 total punches compared to just 494 for Barthelemy. Relikh, who many thought won their first matchup, consistently worked off his jab, connecting on 103 punches per round while Barthelemy landed an average of just 41.

While Barthelemy (26-1, 13 KOs) won a disputed and wide decision in their first bout there was no controversy in the judges’ scorecards in the rematch, which was scored 117-110 and 118-109 twice.

Relikh became just the third fighter from Belarus to win a world title while Barthelemy came up short in his bid to become the first Cuban to win a world title in three weight divisions.

“Last time I was not ready,” Relikh said. “I didn’t have proper preparation in the first fight but this time, with my new trainers, I was ready. I’m very happy. I’ve waited for this dream for 20 years. I’ve worked hard for this dream and now it’s mine.

“Coming in we were looking to box all the way. My jab has developed so much since the last fight. They probably thought that I would run out of gas like last time, but I trained like a champion this time. Everything was geared toward becoming champion and that’s what we did tonight.”

Barthelemy, who picked up the pace a bit in the final three rounds, didn’t dispute the decision.

“My heart is broken because I came in to this fight trying to get that third world title,” Barthelemy said. “I have to admit defeat and say that Relikh deserved to win that fight, but I will be back.

“At this point I have to look forward and put it behind me.”

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