What to Watch: March 9-10

By Caryn A. Tate on March 7, 2018
What to Watch: March 9-10
Join me as I break down which of the week's TV fights are most interesting. (Showtime)

Saturday night on Showtime, IBF champion Sergey Lipinets (13-0, 10 KOs) defends his title against former world champion Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs)…

Join me as I break down which of the week’s televised fights are most interesting and why. Here’s this week’s rundown:

Friday, March 9
10:00pm ET/7:00pm PT - Showtime
Regis Prograis (20-0, 17 KOs) vs. Julius Indongo (22-1, 11 KOs) - 12 rounds, WBC junior welterweight title eliminator

Ivan Baranchyk (17-0, 10 KOs) vs. Petr Petrov (38-5-2, 19 KOs) - 12 rounds, junior welterweight

Junior Fa (13-0, 8 KOs) vs. Craig Lewis (14-1-1, 8 KOs) - 8 rounds, heavyweight

12:00am ET March 10/9:00pm PT March 9 - ESPN2
Ronny Rios (29-2, 13 KOs) vs. Azat Hovhannisyan (13-2, 10 KOs) - 10 rounds, super bantamweight

Saul Juarez (23-7-1, 12 KOs) vs. Gilberto Parra (26-3, 21 KOs) - 10 rounds, light flyweight

Saturday, March 10
10:15pm ET/7:15pm PT - Showtime
Mikey Garcia vs. Sergey Lipinets; Rances Barthelemy vs. Kiryl Relikh; Richard Commey vs. Alejandro Luna

My pick of the week is the main event of this card: IBF super lightweight world champion Lipinets (13-0, 10 KOs) defends his title for the first time against current WBC lightweight world champion Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs).

Much to the chagrin of Lipinets and his team, most of the talk surrounding this bout has been focused on Garcia. But Lipinets is a fighter I’ve had an eye on for quite a while—he’s got serious skill and has come a long way in a short amount of time (thirteen fights). He was a former kickboxing champion and decided to make a run in boxing, and unlike a lot of Eastern European fighters, he has adopted some traditionally American elements, like his athletic, hands partially down style and his slick angles and defense. This is no doubt partially thanks to his American trainer, former world champion Buddy McGirt. McGirt was not only a phenomenal fighter; he’s a great trainer who is adept at articulating what his fighter’s opponent is showing them and how to take advantage of it.

Garcia is a truly impressive fighter. At only 30 years old, he has already won three world titles in three separate weight divisions. But aside from the numbers, Garcia shows incredible ring IQ and boxing ability—his footwork, distance, punch selection, and ability to adjust are things of beauty (check out my interview with him where we discuss his boxing at length: http://www.boxing.com/mikey_garcia_exclusive_technique_knockouts.html ). He has a tendency to make everything look easy, and because he isn’t particularly flashy with his style, it may be harder for the casual fan to see why he is able to achieve the results he does. His fundamentals are excellent, and the experience and intelligence he’s layered on top of them contribute to making Garcia one of the best fighters in the world at the moment.

My main concern for Lipinets is that this fight with Garcia may be too soon. Obviously he and his team don’t think so and we’ll find out for sure on Saturday, but he’s a very good fighter with a lot of promise who has a bright future ahead regardless of the outcome of this match. Perhaps most importantly, Lipinets should be applauded for taking on such a stringent challenge in his very first title defense when so many modern champions seem to spend much of their time looking for the best opportunities, but not necessarily the best fights. It’s clear Lipinets cares about his legacy and as a boxing fan, I greatly appreciate that.

In the supporting bouts, Barthelemy (26-0, 13 KOs) rematches with Relikh (21-2, 19 KOs) for the vacant WBA super lightweight world title. Commey (25-2, 22 KOs) vs. Luna (22-0, 15 KOs) is a 12-round IBF lightweight world title eliminator, setting the victor up for a bout with IBF champion Robert Easter Jr.

10:30pm ET/7:30pm PT - ESPN
Oscar Valdez (23-0, 19 KOs) vs. Scott Quigg (34-1-2, 25 KOs) - 12 rounds, WBO world featherweight title bout

Andy Vences (20-0, 12 KOs) vs. Erick De Leon (17-0, 10 KOs) - 10 rounds, WBC Continental Americas & WBO International super featherweight title bout

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