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Lipinets and Clayton Fight to a Majority Draw

By Caryn A. Tate on October 24, 2020


Both fighters seemed to hurt each other at times. (Amanda Wescott/Showtime)

On Saturday, from the Showtime "bubble" in Uncasville, Connecticut, Premier Boxing Champions presented a three-fight card headlined by welterweights Sergey Lipinets (16-1-1, 12 KOs) and Custio Clayton (18-0-1, 12 KOs) in a 12-round IBF title eliminator.


The first couple of rounds were slow paced as the two men felt each other out. Clayton focused on sticking and moving, but interestingly, his punches seemed to have some sting on them. Lipinets showed his usual terrific footwork, feinting, use of inside work and body punching, and punch selection to keep Clayton guessing a bit.


Both fighters seemed to hurt each other at times. Clayton proved himself to be tricky, often surprising Lipinets with counter right hands around the glove to the ear area. These sometimes did seem to bother Lipinets.


Even Clayton's jab was excellent and troubled Lipinets. There seemed to be a fairly big size disparity between the two men, and the former 140-pound champion Lipinets was obviously feeling the heavy punches from Clayton.


Periodically Lipinets trapped Clayton on the ropes and dug to the body on the inside, and when he did this, Lipinets had tremendous success. But it was never enough to slow Clayton's movement or take much of the power off his punches, surprisingly, and again, that seemed to highlight the natural size difference.


Many of the rounds were close and toss-ups. The last few rounds were mostly Clayton, as his volume increased and Lipinets' punch output slowed.


The fight went to a decision, and the cards read 115-113 for Clayton, and 114-114 twice for a majority draw. A draw was a very fair result in a close, competitive bout in which it was hard to pick the winner.


Earlier, Xavier Martinez (16-0, 11 KOs) faced Claudio Marrero (24-5, 17 KOs) in a 12-round super featherweight bout. Marrero, a southpaw, struggled with the hard-hitting Martinez early, but then began to get more and more comfortable. Marrero was awkward and outlanded Martinez by moving just enough to be at a good angle for himself and not for Martinez to get off.


In the eighth, Marrero pounced on Martinez, backing him up, and landed a terrific short right hook that dropped Martinez on his back pockets. He made the count but was hurt. Shortly after, Marrero again dropped Martinez heavily. Martinez again made the count, and Marrero may have punched himself out. Martinez survived the round.


As the rounds progressed, Marrero slowed down just a bit but Martinez wasn't really able to apply the pressure the way he probably wanted to. It went to decision, and it was unanimous. The judges scored it 115-111, and 114-112 twice, all for Martinez. I felt Marrero did enough to win but it wasn't an egregious difference of opinion due to a few close rounds.


The first fight on the card featured junior welterweights Malik Hawkins (18-1, 11 KOs) vs. Subriel Matias (16-1, 16 KOs) in a 10-rounder.


In the first couple of rounds, Hawkins won by sticking and moving. But against a guy with so much power, it would have behooved Hawkins to fight on the inside, to prevent Matias from getting full extension on his punches. Occasionally they fought there and Hawkins did well, but he didn't seem comfortable on the inside.


In three, Matias began to walk Hawkins down. He was displaying obvious confidence in his 100% knockout ratio and seemed to have no regard for Hawkins' punches that landed. Hawkins began to fight exclusively on the back foot, and when he threw punches they were "stay off me" shots, not much on them. And that gave Matias more confidence.


Hawkins showed a ton of heart and continued trying his best to get off crisp shots and win the rounds, but in the middle rounds Matias controlled the fight.


In six, referee Johnny Callas called a knockdown of Hawkins when he went down to a knee. A replay showed that it was actually an illegal blow, behind Hawkins' head, as well as a forearm push on his back, that were responsible for Hawkins going down. But Connecticut doesn't do instant replays, so we're stuck with an incorrect call by the referee.


Before round seven, the doctors inspected Hawkins for the second time and apparently didn't like what they saw. They advised the referee to stop the fight. Matias won by TKO.

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