Walter Castillo is a stone-fisted, steel-chinned Nicaraguan who has never been stopped and has knocked out twice as many opponents as Sergey Lipinets has victories. But those facts aren’t about to force Lipinets to alter his goal heading into Friday’s clash with Castillo.
Simply put, Lipinets desires to end his 140-pound scrap with Castillo in the same manner of most of his professional bouts: with a concussive KO.
“I'm hoping to score a spectacular knockout and have it be shown on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays. I want to have an electrifying performance,” said Sergey Lipinets (9-0, 7 KOs), who will battle Walter Castillo (26-3-1, 19 KOs) at Horseshoe Tunica Hotel & Casino in Tunica, Mississippi (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
“I never dreamed everything would come so fast. In only my 10th fight, I’ll be fighting on national television for the second time. … I’m making a name for myself, and everyone is starting to take notice.”
A 27-year-old from Kazakhstan who will be in his first fight with renowned cornerman Buddy McGirt, Lipinets (9-0, 7 KOs) is coming off a fifth-round stoppage of Levan Ghvamichava, who doubled over to his right knee from a brutal left hook to the liver on March 15.
“Buddy and I are working great together,” said Lipinets, who has drawn comparisons to fellow heavy-handed countryman and 160-pound champion Gennady Golovkin. “He comes up with fantastic game plans, and he’s able to see flaws in my opponents. I’ve been working really hard to improve on every aspect of my game.
“I’m seeing improvement in a lot of areas, especially fighting on the inside. … I’m feeling really confident going into this fight.”
Both fighters made the contracted weight limit Thursday, with Lipinets hitting the scale at 141 pounds and Castillo coming in at 141.2
To prepare for Castillo, the 5-foot-7 Lipinets, who now lives in Beverly Hills, California, sparred at the Fortune Gym in Los Angeles with Jose Benavidez (24-0, 16 KOs), a talented 24-year-old who stands 5-foot-11 to Castillo’s 5-foot-10.
“We’ve worked on [Lipinets’] jab, his straight right hand and on setting up the body shots,” said McGirt, a 52-year-old former 140- and 147-pound champion. “Sergey has a helluva jab, so I have him using that more, and we worked on his balance in sparring with Jose.
“I’m not expecting to see everything that we worked on against Castillo, because in the heat of battle, you often go back to what you know best. But if [Lipinets] does half the stuff he’s doing here, he’ll do fine.”
Castillo is 1-1-1 in his past three fights. In succession, he fell by 10-round unanimous decision to Amir Imam in April 2015, scored a third-round knockout of Ammeth Diaz last July, and battled Keita Obara to a 12-round draw in November.
Prior to losing to then-unbeaten Imam, Castillo had won nine consecutive fights, six by knockout. The 27-year-old’s only other career blemishes were a pair of split-decision setbacks to Edwin Palacios in his pro debut and Vicente Mosquera in February 2012.
Castillo believes if he could hang with Mosquera—a onetime 130-pound world champion who ended his career at 33-3-1 with 18 KOs—he can handle Lipinets, who has fought nearly 100 fewer professional rounds (55) than his Nicaraguan counterpart (143).
“Mosquera has been the best I’ve faced. He [was] a more complete fighter than Lipinets,” said Castillo, who will have a three-inch height and 4½-inch reach edge over Lipinets. “I feel that I will be stronger with a size advantage.
“[Whether] by knockout or decision, I see myself being victorious.”
For full coverage of Lipinets vs Castillo, visit our fight page.