UNDEFEATED three-division world champion Mikey Garcia will attempt to win a world title in a fourth weight class when he challenges unbeaten IBF 140-pound world champion Sergey Lipinets on Saturday, February 10 live on SHOWTIME. The matchup of top-5 ranked junior welterweights will take place at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas and is presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
Two-division world champion Rances Barthelemy will face Kiryl Relikh in a rematch of their May showdown on SHOWTIME, this time for the vacant WBA 140-pound world title. The doubleheader of title bouts in the wide-open 140-pound division sets the stage for a potential unification match.
The 29-year-old Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs), emphatically returned to pound-for-pound lists in 2017 by scoring a highlight reel knockout of Dejan Zlaticanin to win the WBC Lightweight World Championship in January and then dominating four-division champion Adrien Broner on his way to a unanimous decision in July. Garcia is a member of a renowned boxing family, and is noted for his sportsmanship and his commanding presence in the ring, honed by his brother and acclaimed trainer Robert Garcia.
Garcia, of Moreno Valley by way of Oxnard, Calif., returned to the ring after a two-and-half-year layoff in July 2016 without missing a beat by stopping former champion Elio Rojas. Garcia, who has held world titles at 126, 130 and 135 pounds, has stopped 19 of his last 22 opponents including Roman “Rocky” Martinez, Juan Manuel Lopez and Orlando Salido.
With a win, Garcia would become only the third fighter in modern history to become champion at 126, 130, 135 and 140-pounds, joining future Hall of Famers Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao*.
“It is a dream to have the opportunity to become a four-division world champion,” Garcia said. “San Antonio has some of the greatest boxing fans in the country, including some key supporters of my Robert Garcia Boxing Academy family. Since my last fight, I have stayed in the gym. I can’t wait to give the fans in Texas and those watching at home on SHOWTIME another great performance.”
The unbeaten Lipinets (13-0, 10 KOs) captured a super lightweight world title in just his 13th pro fight by defeating Akihiro Kondo via a unanimous decision on November 4 on SHOWTIME. He is originally from Kazakhstan but moved to Russia when he was six years old. He currently lives in Beverly Hills, California, Lipinets and is trained by Buddy McGirt.
The 28-year-old moved up the 140-pound rankings with victories over then unbeaten Haskell Rhodes, Levan Ghvamichava and Walter Castillo before knocking out Leonardo Zappavigna in a world title eliminator last December. Lipinets will look to stamp his place as an elite fighter when he takes on the accomplished and dangerous Garcia on February 10.
“Getting the title is one thing, but keeping the title is a more difficult task,” said Lipinets. “I’m not about to give it away to anybody. No disrespect to Mikey Garcia or anybody else out there, but I’m keeping my title. Beating Mikey Garcia will put me in the elite of boxing where I believe I belong. I’m happy my team was able to put this great fight together. I can promise you this won’t be a snoozer. It’s going to be an action-packed fight for sure.”
“We’re going to call it’ ‘Undefeated.’ That pretty much sums it up. Two undefeated fighters, champion versus champion,” said Richard Schaefer, Chairman & CEO of Ringstar Sports. “It’s a big challenge for Mikey Garcia to win a championship belt in his fourth weight class. Lipinets never backs down and he’s out to show that’s he one of the biggest punchers in the division. A win for Lipinets is a game-changer for his family and his career. A win for Mikey is another feather in his cap and will help him be recognized as pound-for-pound best in the world. I’m happy to be back in San Antonio at the Alamodome. I’ve promoted some big fights there. San Antonio fight fans are in for a real treat seeing two of the best fighting each other. I’m sure the fans will embrace this fight.”
“We have another intriguing matchup of two young, hungry undefeated fighters who lay it on the line every time they step into the ring,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “As talented as Mikey is, you can’t count Lipinets out. He’s one of the hardest hitters in the 140-pound division. He’s a tough competitor and there’s a reason why he’s a world champion. He knows this is a career-defining fight and he’s going to do everything he can to spoil the party for Garcia in San Antonio on Feb. 10.”
“In three consecutive fights on SHOWTIME since his return to the sport, Mikey Garcia has solidified his position on boxing’s pound-for-pound lists,” said Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President and General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports. “Mikey has proven he’s willing to take on the most avoided opponents in any division as he seeks out the biggest possible matchups in the sport. He’ll face yet another dangerous opponent in Sergey Lipinets, an undefeated champion in his own right, as he seeks to become a four-division world champion. On the heels of Errol Spence vs. Lamont Peterson on January 20, a matchup of consensus top-10 welterweights, we’re proud to deliver this main event of top-5 ranked fighters to build on the momentum.”
Barthelemy (26-0, 13 KOs), who was born in Arroyo Naranjo, Cuba and now lives in Las Vegas, has won world titles at 130 and 135 pounds. He defeated Relikh by unanimous decision in his debut at 140 pound in his last fight on May 20. If he defeats Relikh again, he will become the first Cuban boxer to win world championships in three different weight classes. He defeated Argenis Mendez by unanimous decision to win the 130-pound world title in 2014 and a year later scored a unanimous decision over Denis Shafikov for the 135-pound world title. Barthelemy, 31, has two brothers, Yan and Leduan, who are professional boxers who he trains alongside with under the tutelage of Ismael Salas.
Relikh (21-2, 19 KOs) believes that he won the first match with Barthelemy and that the scorecards did not reflect the competitive nature of the fight. The 28-year-old nearly had Barthelemy out after landing a barrage of punches that penned Barthelemy on the ropes, but he was only awarded a knockdown. In the eighth round, Barthelemy came back to drop Relikh with a body shot. Shortly after the May 20 title eliminator, the WBA ordered a rematch, this time to be contested for the vacant 140-pound title. This will be Relikh’s second world title shot after the fighter from Minsk, Belarus lost a unanimous decision to Ricky Burns in Glasgow, Scotland on Oct. 7, 2016.
*Pacquiao won lineal championships at 126 and 140-pounds, although he did not win alphabet titles.