Lipinets delivers dominant performance in this WBC Super Lightweight title eliminator and the brave Figueroa hangs up the gloves afterward.
They were preparing for a fight. They both were sorely in need of a victory. A week ago, Omar Figueroa Jr. and Sergey Lipinets were each searching for their first victory in two years. They just did not think that they would be fighting each other to get there.
Figueroa, the former WBC lightweight titlist, and Lipinets, the former IBF 140-pound champion, battled in a 12-round WBC super lightweight title eliminator Saturday night on SHOWTIME in a Premier Boxing Champions event from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
Lipinets, a late replacement for Adrien Broner, handed Figueroa his third-straight loss with an eighth-round stoppage victory.
Both Lipinets (17-2-1, 13 KOs) and Figueroa could not get out of the way of each other.
But it was Lipinets who inflicted far more punishment, landing 172/517 (33%) total punches to Figueroa’s 44/475 (9%) total tally.
Those numbers speak volumes.
“I did well considering that he caught me with a good punch early on,” Lipinets said. “I had a good fighter in front of me. My hat's off to Omar for being a warrior; 140 is my weight. I came back. I’m back.”
As soon as the opening bell sounded, the pair immediately met at the center of the ring and went right after each other, fighting inches apart. Figueroa (28-3-1, 19 KOs) had no problem putting his head down on Lipinets’ shoulder and whaling away at the body. A Lipinets left hook made Figueroa rethink that approach.
With 1:11 left in the second round, Lipinets dropped Figueroa for the second time in his career with a blunt right hand.
“The punch that rocked Omar is the punch that my trainer and I have been working on for a long time,” Lipinets said. “He came at me and it was the perfect time to use it.”
In the first minute of the sixth, Lipinets backed Figueroa into the ropes with a big right hand. A minute later, Figueroa plowed a right of his own into Lipinets.
Between the seventh and eighth rounds, Omar Figueroa Sr., Omar Jr.’s trainer and father, warned his son that he would stop the fight if he did not see his son defend himself.
After the eighth, that was it. Omar Sr. waved it over.
“I’m very disappointed about the outcome,” Omar Jr. said. “My team and I worked so hard during this training camp. My body has reached its limit. I’ve been doing this for 27 years and my body has finally said enough. I’m just sorry I’ve disappointed the fans.
“The change of opponents didn’t affect me. I think I’ve reached the end of the line here in boxing. It occupied my life for 27 years. My body just gave up. It didn’t respond.
“My daughter was born earlier today. I’m happy that I got to enjoy this last camp. I had a great time. Lipinets was tough, he's a tough fighter. He's really strong and he came to fight. My body just didn't respond. Not much else to say.
“I have no idea what's next. I'm working on a couple things. I have a book that I'm working on, and maybe I'll be able to give people a little more insight on my life. There's so much more that's part of who I am, and maybe that's part of why it came to such an abrupt end like this."
Alberto Puello makes history as the first Dominican Republic Super Lightweight World Champion
Alberto Puello made his point. One time in the past, apparently, he wanted to work with Joel Diaz, trainer of Batyr Akhmedov, to get in some work. Apparently, Puello was rejected for “not being good enough,” Puello said.
The Dominican Republic super lightweight proved that, apparently, he is, by beating Diaz’s fighter, Akhmedov, for the WBA vacant super lightweight title that Josh Taylor vacated by split-decision, winning 117-111 on the scorecards of Benoit Roussel and Mark Streisand, overruling Lisa Giampa’s 115-113 score for Akhmedov.
Puello (21-0, 10 KOs) made history by becoming the first 140-pound Dominican Republic world champion.
After he won, Puello motioned to Akhmedov’s corner, pointing his finger.
“I reacted to Akhmedov’s corner because Joel Diaz once told me I had no talent, and he didn’t let me join his team. I proved him wrong,” Puello explained. “I knew it was a close fight, and I just kept the distance and kept the pressure on the jab tonight and that helped me get the victory.
“All my conditioning in training is what helped me near the end of the fight. I executed what I did my entire training camp,” Puello said. “My preparation was the key to last the 12 rounds. I mixed it up, sometimes counterpunching and some other times coming forward.
“This win means a lot to me. This is a big thing for us Dominicans because my friend Hector Garcia and I are bringing two titles back home.”
Puello and Akhmedov provided great back-and-forth action, with the lanky Puello starting well, using accurate punching, picking at Akhmedov’s head and body. He used the middle of the ring very well.
By the fourth, Akhmedov (9-2, 8 KOs) looked like he was ready to pull the fight in his favor, ruling the latter portion of the sixth, when he pounded Puello with body shots pinning him against the ropes.
Akhmedov would lower his head and bore his way in, chopping at Puello’s midsection. But Akhmedov could never really close the distance to get inside, where he was most effective.
Hector Garcia captures the WBA Super Featherweight World Championship
Six months ago, very few in boxing knew who southpaw Hector Garcia was, when he came on as a late replacement to fight then-undefeated Chris Colbert. On two weeks’ notice, Garcia pulled off one of the biggest upsets in 2022 by beating Colbert.
It’s safe to say the boxing world knows who Garcia is now, after he throttled defending champion Roger Gutierrez in a unanimous 12-round decision to capture the WBA World Super Featherweight title and become the fourth Dominican Republic fighter to be a super featherweight world champion.
Garcia (16-0, 10 KOs) left little doubt. He easily controlled the initial three-quarters of the fight before Gutierrez (26-4-1, 20 KOs) came on late, which translated into unanimous scores of 118-110 on judge Fred Fluty’s scorecard, and 117-111 by judges Alex Levin and Mike Ross.
“It was fair for God to give me this opportunity,” Garcia said. “I worked really hard for it. A lot of sacrifices along the way. I’m thankful to PBC, Bob Santos, Luis DeCubas Jr., my team.
“It means a lot to me to win this title. I dedicate it to my people, the entire Dominican Republic and my town, San Juan de Maguana. In the pros, nobody knew me. But in the amateurs, people knew my name. I went to the Olympics – it was my dream. I had a good run.
“(Gutierrez) was looking for the right punch to take me down, but I was able to dominate, dictate the pace of the fight and get the win.”
The 30-year-old Dominican started well, using distance, being first, and coming at the champion. Garcia used a pair of straight lefts that connected in the fourth, putting another round in the books for the challenger. He used sneaky lefts to tap Gutierrez, who was not active for long stretches of rounds.
By the eight round, Gutierrez’s head was beat red. He was bleeding from the left ear from Garcia’s consistent right jabs.
Gutierrez had a big 10th, banging Garcia with a right on the chin while he was caught against the ropes. But Garcia battled back, though it was probably the first round Gutierrez won.
With less than a minute left in the 11th, Gutierrez nailed Garcia with a straight right followed by a left hook, which had Garcia in some trouble.
“I never felt like I was hurt badly during the fight, but it was a fair decision,” Gutierrez said. “I started too late in the fight. In the middle of the eighth round, I started to connect on my punches. He moved around my left hand. He’s not an easy fighter, for sure.
“It's a bad moment for me right now, but it’s just one loss. I’m still young, only 25 years old. I'll wait a little bit to know what I’ll do next, but I’ll rise again. For now, I want to rest and be with my family.”
Brandun Lee gets up from an early knockdown to beat Will Madera
Young rising super lightweight star Brandun Lee was knocked down for the first time in his career, caught by a looping right from Will Madera to the jaw with :25 left in the third round of a scheduled 10-rounder.
Lee (26-0, 22 KOs) managed to get up, though on unsteady legs, and began to reestablish himself on his way to winning a 10-round unanimous decision. Bleeding from his right eye, Madera (17-2-3, 10 KOs) unfurled a textbook right to the jaw that sent Lee down.
“I think I went in there a little too careless,” Lee said. “After the first round, I told myself this guy has nothing to give me. Boy was I wrong. It took me a round for me to recover. I of course had to change up the game plan a little bit. In the gym, we practice for anything, just in case. That’s what I did.”
A composed Lee, overcoming adversity for the first time in his career, used combination punching to regain command. It’s the second straight time Lee has gone 10 rounds.
“To me, going the rounds are kind of good for me,” Lee said. “We all know I’m a knockout artist and I’m finally getting the rounds, the conditioning and the good work that I need to be a good professional. It’s part of the game I got hit with a clean shot; not once did I fold. Not once did I attempt to quit. I’m a fighter. I’m going to fight to the death. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, death before dishonor.”
Madera thought the fight was closer.
“I thought the fight was a lot closer than the scorecards, but I know he did enough to win the fight,” he said. “In the third, I timed a perfect overhand right. He didn’t see it coming. He was too busy being aggressive, trying to take me out and he wasn’t defensive minded in that moment.
“I sensed he was still hurt at the start of the fourth round. I just didn’t do enough to push the fight.”
For a closer look at Figueroa vs Lipinets, check out our fight night page.