Sergey Lipinets and Akihiro Kondo will contest the vacant IBF junior welterweight title as chief support to the Deontay Wilder-Bermane Stiverne heavyweight clash at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Saturday.
The world title up for grabs became available in late August when Terence Crawford elected to vacate instead of fulfilling a mandatory defense against Lipinets. Last week, the unbeaten Crawford made his move to welterweight official.
Lipinets (12-0, 10 knockouts) has chased a title shot for months and he’s just glad that his opportunity is at hand.
“I was ready to fight [Julius] Indongo and then it was [Terence] Crawford that I had to prepare for,” Lipinets told RingTV.com through manager Alex Vaysfeld. “So, when the IBF put Kondo in front of me, we just made changes as far as sparring partners and kept getting ready for the big night. It wouldn’t matter to me who I have to fight.”
The Kazakhstan-born pressure-fighter is a little disappointed he won’t be facing Crawford but believes their paths will cross in the future.
“A fight with Terence Crawford would have been bigger and more lucrative,” said the 28-year-old contender, who once competed as a kickboxer. “But, I look at it as one step at the time. Eventually that showdown will take place, I’m sure.”
For now, Lipinets, who is rated No. 8 by THE RING at 140 pounds, is focused on Kondo.
“The fight with Kondo is the one I have in front of me,” he said. “I respect every fighter but Akhiro Kondo is in my way and that is a very dangerous place to be.”
Kondo (29-6-1, 16 KOs) has been a professional for 11 years and once held a national title at lightweight. The Tokyo-resident is unbeaten since April 2015, stopping six of eight opponents inside the distance. Kondo, himself, has never been stopped.
Lipinets is trained by former two-weight world champion Buddy McGirt, who is very pleased with his fighter’s progress.
“The [training] camp went great; couldn’t hope for better,” said McGirt. “It’s easy to get everything done with fighters like Sergey. Discipline, focus and determination all come natural to that kid.”
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Source:: The Ring – Boxing