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 Coliseum 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.”
The featured attraction of the SHOWTIME BOXING on SHO EXTREME telecast saw San Antonio’s own Mario Barrios (21-0, 13 KOs) deliver a sensational second round knockout of Eudy Bernardo (23-3, 17 KOs) in front of his hometown fans.
“I definitely made a statement tonight,” said Barrios. “I showed the 140-pound division that I’m here and ready for any of them.”
Barrios was dominant from the start and struck early in the second with a vicious straight right that put Bernardo down. Although Bernardo got to his feet and beat the count, referee Jon Schorle had seen enough and waved off the bout 45 seconds into the second round of the super lightweight affair.
“I wasn’t going in there looking for the knockout, but I caught him early,” said Barrios. “I’ve been on a good run and I’m ready to continue that streak. We’re moving up the ranks fight by fight. I’m looking to get a title eliminator by the end of the year and hopefully a title shot early next year.”
In the opening bout of the SHO EXTREME telecast, Richard Commey (26-2, 23 KOs) scored a sixth-round TKO of Alejandro Luna (22-1, 15 KOs) in their IBF Lightweight World Title Eliminator.
“Despite the win, my performance wasn’t up to the level that I hoped it would be,” said Commey. “He was exactly what I expected and if I had connected on more of my punches in the beginning I think the fight would have been over earlier. I was really trying to work on what we had been focusing on in camp but I just wasn’t performing well at the start of the fight.”
The fight was defined by exciting exchanges throughout, with Commey, fighting on his 31st birthday, getting the better early and connecting with power punches that caused Luna’s jaw to swell. Commey’s power broke through in round six when a powerful combination punctuated by a left uppercut sent Luna to the canvas for the first time in his career.
“I’m very disappointed,” said Luna. “All the credit to Commey, but I expect more of myself and I’m going to get back in the gym and come back much stronger and better.”
Luna rose to his feet but was quickly pounced on by Commey, who landed 62 percent of his power punches in the round, and was sent to the mat again. This forced referee David Fields to call a halt to the bout at 1:54 of round six. Commey now becomes the mandatory challenger for IBF Lightweight World Champion Robert Easter, who Commey lost a split decision to in September 2016.
“It is the greatest feeling to get the win on my 31st birthday,” said Commey. “I am looking forward to fighting for the 135-pound world title and becoming champion.”
The SHO EXTREME swing bout featured unbeaten prospect Brandon Figueroa (15-0, 10 KOs) scoring a seventh round knockout of Mexico’s Giovanni Delgado (16-6, 9 KOs) in their super bantamweight clash.
Figueroa, the brother of former champion Omar, continued to show the aggressive style that has defined his early career as he threw an astonishing 178 punches in the third round. That number was good for the second most ever thrown in a single round by a fighter in a super bantamweight bout, according to CompuBox.
The 21-year-old Figueroa continued to put the pressure on, battering Delgado until referee Gregorio Alvarez halted the fight at 1:55 of the seventh round.