Former world champion Sergey Lipinets and unbeaten Custio Clayton fought to a majority draw Saturday night in a welterweight clash headlining action live on SHOWTIME® from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
Lipinets (16-1-1, 12 KOs) and Clayton (18-0-1, 12 KOs) each added the first draw of their professional careers in the 12-round SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION battle for the Interim IBF Welterweight Title. One judge scored the fight 115-113 for Clayton, but was overruled by the two judges who scored the bout a 114-114 draw.
“I thought I won the fight, but Clayton is a good fighter,” said Lipinets. “He was stronger than I thought he’d be. I haven’t fought in a year and it shows. I need to get my rhythm back in a couple of fights before I face the top level fighters.”
“At the end of the day, you can’t knock the judges’ decision, but I thought that I landed the cleaner shots and won,” said Clayton. “He came forward a lot, but he wasn’t landing as much. I probably could have pushed more a little earlier, but at the same time, I knew he was strong. I thought I stayed patient and poised. I could have put combinations together quicker, but overall I thought I fought a smart fight and pulled it off.”
The fight was defined by the Russian Lipinets’ blistering body attack against the precision of the Canadian Olympian Clayton’s jab. According to CompuBox, Lipinets out landed Clayton to the body by an 80 to 29 tally, while Clayton had the superior jab to the tune of 135 landed compared to 68 from Lipinets.
Clayton was able to stymie the powerful Lipinets for much of the fight with his movement and that jab, but never put together the offensive arsenal to discourage Lipinets from coming forward. Clayton won the final three rounds on all of the judges’ cards to earn the draw.
“I showed the world that I’m not just a guy from Canada,” said Clayton. “I proved I’m a good fighter. People will have to respect me a little bit more. If Lipinets wants the rematch for the interim title, we should be able to make that happen.”
“For the interim title, I’ll be ready for a rematch with Clayton,” added Lipinets.
In the co-main event, unbeaten contender Xavier Martinez (16-0, 11 KOs) survived two knockdowns to win a unanimous decision over Claudio Marrero (24-5, 17 KOs) in their WBA Super Featherweight Title Eliminator. After 12 rounds, all three judges scored the fight for Martinez, by scores of 115-111 and 114-112 twice.
“Not every win is going to be pretty and a knockout, but if you can pull yourself out of tough situations, it proves what type of fighter you are,” said Martinez. “I knew it wasn’t going to be a cakewalk. I told [trainer] Ray [Woods] I might hit this guy a couple of times and he might not drop. It’s all part of the experience.”
The fight featured ebbs and flows, with each man seemingly in control at different times throughout. Sacramento’s Martinez flashed impressive combination punching, punctuating many attacks with a left hook that slowly closed Marrero’s right eye. Representing his native Dominican Republic, Marrero actually held the statistical edge in the fight, out landing Martinez 161 to 128.
Marrero seemed to change the tide of the fight in round eight, landing a powerful right hook to the head that dropped Martinez in the first minute of the frame. Marrero followed up with a flurry finished off by a right hook that again dropped Martinez. Despite the two knockdowns, Martinez was able to survive the rest of the round and avoid the hard-charging Marrero.
“To be honest, it was weird when I got knocked down,” said Martinez. “I just said, ‘Let’s get back up.’ Losing wasn’t on my mind. I just thought I have to get up. I’m not happy I went down but it’s all an experience. A lot of guys wouldn’t have fought Claudio. He was tough. But I rose to the occasion and I proved something to myself.”
Although he was fighting past the eighth round for the first time in his career, Martinez was able to regain his momentum through the championship rounds to clinch the victory.
“I feel like it was a bad decision,” said Marrero. “I don’t think the judges took into account all the hard work I did in the ring. I wouldn’t do anything different if I fought him again. I would fight the same way. I fought smart and I put pressure on him. He hits hard, but I recovered quickly. I felt like I won the fight.”
“I have the will to win,” said Martinez. “I just didn’t want to lose. I trained very hard for this fight, and I wasn’t going to go out like that. I wanted to show everyone that even though I got dropped, I could come back and win it. Some young fighters will fold, but I showed that I won’t. I’m proud of myself.”
In the telecast opener, super lightweight contender Subriel Matias (16-1, 16 KOs) scored a TKO victory over Malik Hawkins (18-1, 11 KOs) after six rounds of action. The fight was stopped on the recommendation of the ringside physician prior to the start of the seventh round and is officially scored a TKO one second into the seventh.
“The biggest difference between this fight and my loss was the way I trained in the gym,” said Puerto Rico’s Matias. “I didn’t train as much as I should have for my last fight. Malik didn’t have the power to hurt me. In the first round, I knew that. And that’s when I kept moving forward and starting hurting him in the body. That’s what I kept doing, just going to the body.”
After Baltimore’s Hawkins won the first round on all three judges’ cards, Matias began to outwork his opponent and consistently land his left hook to the head and body. In round six, Matias knocked down a fading Hawkins with that hook, the first time Hawkins had been down in his career.
Matias was the busier fighter from rounds two through six, landing 137 punches to Hawkins’ 94. His left hook also helped him to a 122 to 70 advantage in power punches landed, while swelling the right eye of Hawkins that would lead to the end of the fight. Matias led by the score of 59-54 on all three judges’ cards at the time of the stoppage.
“He was doing a bunch of dirty things in the fight,” said Hawkins. “I’m not going to sit here and cry over spilled milk. He was the better man tonight. I’m getting right back into the gym.”
“I’ll fight anyone,” said Matias. “Whoever they put in front of me, it doesn’t matter. I want a title eliminator, and then I want to fight for a world title.”
Saturday’s SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION telecast will replay on Monday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME EXTREME.