Three-division champion aims to place his name in the boxing record books, while 140-pound titleholder believes he can stun the sport's pundits this Saturday night on Showtime.
Mikey Garcia is considered one of the two or three best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. But the 30-year-old southern Californian is still chasing new challenges and faces a big one tomorrow night as he looks to gain his fourth world title in as many weight divisions.
Garcia (37-0, 30 knockouts)—who faces junior welterweight titlist Sergey Lipinets (13-0, 10 KOs) in San Antonio in the main event of a Showtime-televised card (10:15 p.m. ET & PT)—has made two appearances at the 140-pound limit.
One was a comeback fight against Elio Rojas following a long layoff due to a contract dispute. He scored a fifth-round TKO victory. Most recently he had an easy unanimous 12-round decision win over four-division champion Adrien Broner this past July.
“I’ve been winning and dominating my fights, but I still have room to show the fans more of my skills," Garcia said. “I need opponents who will bring the best out of me. I’m going to keep trying to dominate each fight and make it easy for myself in the ring.”
Lipinets is the latest export of Kazakhstan to win a world title, though a lot of people question the competition he faced in order to earn the label. He's certainly proven to be a solid talent in the division, but Garcia's standing as one of the best in the world carries the expectation of nothing short of a brilliant performance from the master tactician.
A win over Garcia would be massive, and arguably an even bigger victory than any of the wins fellow countryman Gennady Golovkin can claim on his resume.
“I’m very excited to be in this position and I’m planning to take advantage of it," Lipinets said. “It meant a lot to win a world title, but these are the kind of fights you get into boxing for. This is a chance to really put my name in the history books."
“ “Sergey Lipinets is the number one priority right now. He’s an undefeated world champion and I can’t take him lightly at all. I’m going to follow my game plan and right now I’m on track to put on a great performance." ” Three-division World Champion Mikey Garcia
Everything Lipinets does, Garcia seemingly does better. Lipinets' workmanlike attack plays into Garcia's precise counterpunching abilities. The one thing Lipinets has to his advantage is proof he can overcome adversity. Against Akihiro Kondo for the vacant belt, Lipinets had the screws put to him a bit and came out on top. The fight was a wide decision for Lipinets but those that watched it found it a much closer affair.
Lipinets isn't a particularly strong puncher, which plays to Garcia's advantage as he's not a natural 140 pounder either. Lipinets has a one-inch reach advantage that shouldn't provide much of one as few judge distance as well as Garcia.
Garcia's name has been thrown around for some high-profile fights in recent months, with names ranging from Vasyl Lomachenko to Jorge Linares, but he also has his sights set on the biggest names in the welterweight division.
“I don’t have a number of titles that I’m chasing, but I do believe I will be a champion at 140 pounds and eventually at 147," Garcia said. "Each fight is unique and I’m going to keep taking it one fight at a time."
Garcia is looking for the big money with the surfeit of big names in the welterweight division, but he isn't overlooking his current test. He knows how he looks on Saturday will factor into his bankability for big money fights with the likes of Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, and the rest of the cream of the 147-pound crop.
“Sergey Lipinets is the number one priority right now," Garcia said. “He’s an undefeated world champion and I can’t take him lightly at all. I’m going to follow my game plan and right now I’m on track to put on a great performance."
Saturday's fight could end up being just the beginning of what Mikey Garcia hopes is a career-defining 2018.
For a closer look at Garcia vs Lipinets, visit our fight page.