It's do or die for two former world champions as Omar Figueroa and Sergey Lipinets battle in a WBC Super Lightweight Title eliminator Saturday night on SHOWTIME.
This Saturday, August 20, from Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, FL, all-action Omar “Panterita” Figueroa Jr. (28-2-1, 19 KOs) battles late replacement Sergey Lipinets (16-2-1, 12 KOs) in a 12-round WBC Super Lightweight Title eliminator atop a Premier Boxing Champions event.
Figueroa’s original opponent, Adrien Broner, pulled out of Saturday’s contest citing personal issues.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) will feature top 140-pound contenders Alberto Puello and Batyr Akhmedov battling for the vacant WBA super lightweight world championship in the co-main event. Also on the card, WBA super featherweight world champion Roger Gutierrez defends his title against undefeated Chris Colbert conqueror, Hector Garcia. Opening up the four-fight telecast, electrifying blue-chip prospect Brandun Lee takes on Will Madera in a 10-round super lightweight bout.
Omar Figueroa Jr. started boxing at six years of age under the supervision of his father Omar Sr., fighting in the amateur ranks in both the United States and Mexico. Despite having earned an athletic scholarship to Texas A&M, the call of the ring pulled a young “Panterita” back to boxing, where he made his professional debut at 18.
In 2013, at the age of 23, the Weslaco, Texas native won the WBC lightweight title in a Fight of the Year-caliber battle with Japan’s Nihito Arakawa. Two defenses later, injury forced Figueroa to vacate his title and begin a run in the super lightweight division. The injury was just one of many assorted career-pausing injuries that reportedly includes six or seven fractured hands and elbow surgery. Most recently, mental health issues have hurt the former champ’s ring efforts, leading to inactivity and outside-the-ring distraction.
Despite back-to-back losses in his last two bouts against Yordenis Ugas and Abel Ramos, Figueroa says that he’s working through his difficulties and ready to get back to the form he displayed against the likes of Arakawa and Robert Guerrero.
Hailing from Woodland Hills, California by way of Martuk, Kazakhstan, Sergey Lipinets is a former kickboxer who immediately took to boxing, winning a world title in just his 13th pro fight.
Two of his career blemishes – a majority draw with Custio Clayton in 2020 and a six-round KO loss to Jaron Ennis in 2021 – came at the welterweight limit. At his ideal weight of 140, however, Lipinets has performed at a high level, even accounting well for himself in his 2018 decision loss to pound-for-pound presence Mikey Garcia.
The former world champ was scheduled to appear on the Broner-Figueroa undercard but is ecstatic at getting the opportunity to slide into the main event.
At stake for both fighters is, quite frankly, their careers. Both Figueroa and Lipinets desperately need a victory to stay afloat and turn the tide of careers that, in recent years, have been trending downward. Further, the winner moves closer to a world title shot in this WBC eliminator.
The 32-year-old Figueroa is a pressure fighter at heart with an all-action focus and an awkward style that can throw opposition off-kilter. Tenacious and tricky, he has an underrated bag of stylistic tricks in his arsenal picked up over a lifetime in the gym, including the ability to effortlessly shift from orthodox to southpaw stances.
An off-putting style and a granite chin make up a major part of Figueroa’s defense, but they clearly have not been enough to get him over the hump against higher-level opposition at higher weights. A move back down to 140 will definitely be a good thing for him.
“ I hope he's ready for what I'm bringing. ” Former World Champion - Omar Figueroa Jr.
Lipinets is a calm, patient fighter with an all-around solid skill set and a stiff jab. Despite setbacks in recent bouts, he’s actually grown as a fighter and credits his work with trainer Joe Goossen as the key to improvements in both his inside and outside game, as well as the addition of more “sit-down” power.
On defense, the 33-year-old Lipinets keeps his hands up and picks off shots with his gloves. Increased in-ring fluidity has come hand-in-hand with more bending at the waist and rolling with punches. Despite his KO loss to the explosive Jaron Ennis, his chin has also proven to be sturdy and reliable.
Omar Figueroa Jr.
“This is going to be a great fight against Lipinets and I hope he's ready for what I'm bringing. I've made changes in my life and…I’m going to show what I can do now that I have a clear head and a clear path ahead of me. With the opponent change I'm even more ready to take all the frustrations and anger that have built up in camp and bring it into the ring on Saturday and come out victorious.”
“We’ve actually been in camp for almost three months getting ready for whoever they put in front of me. We’ve been sparring with and preparing for all types of styles. And now we get this great news that I get to fight Figueroa this Saturday. I can’t wait to show everyone that I’m still a force to be reckoned with at 140 pounds.”
Losing out on a chance to fight the high-profile Adrien Broner has to be a major letdown for Figueroa. Although Lipinets is solid and respected, he doesn’t demand the spotlight that Broner does and a win over the California-based Kazakh will not provide the same boost as a win over “The Problem.”
In a lot of ways, though, Lipinets will be just as complicated of an opponent as Broner. While lacking Broner’s natural speed and athleticism, Lipinets’ cool temperament and tight skill set could match up well against a Figueroa who can sometimes be a bit sloppy in his rush to attack.
Figueroa will have to be sharp or he’ll get caught up the middle, repeatedly, and worn down by a Lipinets who does good body work and has underrated pop in his right hand.
But if Lipinets is being pushed back and forced to fight in reverse, it’ll be a sign that the pressure fighter Figueroa is having his way and on track to a big comeback win.
Omar Figueroa Jr. vs. Sergey Lipinets, this Saturday, is a compelling clash of styles and temperaments where neither fighter can afford to lose and both absolutely must put on a show.
For a closer look at Figueroa vs Lipinets, check out our fight night page.