Sergey Lipinets vs. Custio Clayton: Testing Mettle, Proving Worth

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Fireworks are expected as Lipinets and Clayton square off for the interim IBF 147-pound title Saturday night on SHOWTIME.

The next wave of welterweight talent is here and moving forward, knocking on the door of the current 147-pound elite. 

This Saturday, October 24, live on Showtime, from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., former junior welterweight world champ Sergey Lipinets (16-1, 12 KOs) meets unbeaten 2012 Canadian Olympian Custio Clayton (18-0, 12 KOs) for the interim IBF world welterweight title and a chance to move up against the very best in a stacked 147-pound division. 

The SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION telecast begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and will feature undefeated contender Xavier Martínez against the hard-hitting Claudio “The Matrix” Marrero in a 12-round WBA super featherweight title eliminator. Opening the televised card will be rising star Malik “Iceman” Hawkins, matched against KO artist Subriel Matías in a 10-round super lightweight showdown.

The Story 

Kazakhstan-born, Russia-representing, Woodland Hills, California-residing Sergey Lipinets was originally scheduled to face Kudratillo Abdukakhorov for the interim belt, but visa issues forced the Uzbekistani to withdraw. On nine-days notice, Custio Clayton, the IBF's number-five ranked welterweight, stepped in to answer the challenge. 

Lipinets, a former 140-pound world champ, is undefeated so far in his welterweight run and eager to fight his way into the upper tier of the glamour division.

Clayton is making his U.S. debut, looking to seize upon this opportunity to announce his arrival upon the world scene and stake his own claim to world title glory.

The Stakes

Up for grabs is the IBF interim world welterweight title and a spot as top contender to current world champion, Errol Spence Jr. 

The Matchup

The 31-year-old Lipinets has, in a lot of ways, become a new kind of fighter under the guidance of trainer Joe Goossen. He is 3-0 in his two years with the renowned trainer, crediting Goossen with sharpening his skills and helping define his fighting style.

Lipinets now holds his hands higher on defense and offers more angles on offense, bending more at the waist up close and perfecting an inside game that allows him to transition from defense to offense more effectively. 

Still a calm, patient fighter with a great in-ring presence and a solid jab, the former kickboxer offers up a greater variety of punches and more "sit down" power. In his 2019 bout with Lamont Peterson, Lipinets showed his increased repertoire and sharpened skill set with an impressive tenth-round stoppage of the veteran former world champion. 

Clayton is a patient, disciplined fighter with a calm temperament in the ring. He's got a solid jab, which he uses often, and good hand speed. An overhand right is his best weapon upstairs. He's also adept at working the body, especially with a left hand than can be used as a hook to the liver or as a thudding jab to the gut. 

Well-schooled and disciplined, the 33-year-old Montreal resident has solid fundamentals and sound conditioning but is generally not an overwhelming physical presence. He makes up for his lack of elite-level physicality with a good boxing intellect and the mental focus to unflinchingly stick to his game plan. 

Defensively, Clayton maintains a high guard defense and aims to pick off incoming shots with his gloves. 

I’m prepared to make one statement – I belong here. Welterweight Contender - Sergey Lipinets

The Words

Sergey Lipinets

"We never missed a beat in preparation, even with the opponent change...I know that Clayton has a great amateur background. I’ve checked out his style.

"I’m prepared to make one statement – I belong here. I want to fight the best. I want to make my imprint on this sport and build my legacy. I’ve had to do it the hard way, but I’m not complaining...People need to start mentioning my name with the top guys and after this fight they’ll have to. You can’t look past me anymore."

Custio Clayton

"I’m very happy to have this opportunity. This is exactly the type of fight me and my team have been asking for. My preparation has been very good. This might seem like it’s last-minute, but I am more than ready for whatever Lipinets brings on October 24."

The Breakdown

For all his improvement, Lipinets still has some exploitable flaws. Lamont Peterson banged him all night to the body and Mikey Garcia, the only fighter to beat him as a pro, was able to take advantage of a tendency to be somewhat mechanical and predictable. 

It remains to be seen, however, whether Clayton has the all-around chops to take advantage of any Lipinets shortcomings. With a TKO win over a well-past-prime 2019 DeMarcus Corley as the most recognizable name on his ledger, his resume is thin. He's yet to go beyond passing the "eye test" when it comes to his world class, main-stage readiness. 

Given that neither fighter is much of a mover or defensive stylist, odds are pretty good that Saturday's bout will be a fight rather than a boxing match. And with both fighters adept at working the body, a punishing affair is to be expected. 

Clayton will try to keep Lipinets at the end of his jab and work to cause damage with a follow-up overhand right. Lipinets, meanwhile, would like the fight within arm's length, working angles up close to take advantage of an opponent who is patient to a fault and sometimes lacking in punch output.

At the end of the day, Clayton will have to deliver on his potential in his first real test on the boxing main stage. If not, Lipinets will break him down and then turn his attention to a run at the elite of the welterweight division. 

For a closer look at Lipinets vs Clayton, check out our fight night page. 

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