SAN ANTONIO – Unbeaten three division world champion Mikey Garcia and IBF Junior Welterweight World Champion Sergey Lipinets kicked off fight week in San Antonio Wednesday by participating in media workouts at the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy before they enter the ring Saturday, March 10 live on SHOWTIME (10:15 p.m. ET/PT) from Freeman Coliseum.
Also participating in Wednesday’s workout and competing on the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast was two-division world champion Rances Barthelemy, who meets Kiryl Relikh in a rematch of their thrilling fight last May, this time for the vacant WBA 140-pound world title.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by Ringstar Sports and TGB Promotions in association with Leija-Battah Promotions, are priced at $250, $150, $75, $50 and $20 and are on sale now. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000 or 210 556-7390.
Unbeaten contender Mario Barrios, of San Antonio, was also in attendance on Wednesday as he prepares for his SHOWTIME EXTREME matchup against Eudy Bernardo. The SHOWTIME BOXING in SHO EXTREME telecast begins live at 8 p.m. ET/PT and features undefeated Alejandro Luna facing former world title challenger Richard Commey in a 12-round IBF Lightweight Title Eliminator.
Here is what the fighters had to say:
“I want to take on these big opportunities because I want to challenge myself. This is another chance to prove to all the fans what kind of fighter I am.
“Everything depends on my opponent. If I find there’s an opportunity to go for a knockout, I’m definitely going to take it. If it goes 12 rounds, then he’s a very tough fighter and I expect Lipinets to be tough. I’m just going to do whatever it takes to win the fight. If the opportunity is there, I’m definitely going to go for the knockout because that’s what we’re here to do. I’m here to make the fight as easy as possible.
“I feel good. I’m fighting a bigger man naturally, so that’s something I have to get adjusted to but I still feel that my ability and my skills are enough to compete at the highest level with these men and that’s why I’m comfortable fighting at 140. I still feel that 135 might be a better fit for me because I’m a little bit of a naturally bigger, stronger man at 135, but at 140 I feel just as good as far as my speed, my footwork and my reflexes.
“It would be very nice to win a fourth division title. That would obviously be a big accomplishment in my career and it would be the second time I won the title here in the state of Texas. I have a lot of appreciation and love for San Antonio boxing fans.
“Some critics aren’t giving Lipinets much credit because he’s only had 13 fights, but that tells you how good of a fighter he is. It took me 30 fights to be a world champion. He’s a high caliber fighter who brings great danger. At the end of the day, I believe I’m the better boxer and that will help me get the win.”
“It was a great camp. We had a lot of different sparring partners that were giving me different looks as far as boxing abilities. Every single one of them had styles similar to Mikey. I’m ready to go. I’m not going to let anything get in the way. I’ll come out victorious Saturday night.
“I feel great. It doesn’t matter if I’m an underdog or not, I’m ready to prove everybody wrong. I really want to show everybody that I’m the one that they should be looking at; that I’m the champion.
“Mikey’s records and accomplishments don’t matter to me. He’s got two hands, two feet and one head. He’s just another person, he’s just another fighter I’m fighting. I prepared for little different things to fight Mikey but once I get in the ring, it’s going to be Mikey and me and you’ll see how it’s going to go down.
“My hand injury took place over the course of sparring. We were changing sparring partners two rounds at a time. I hit one of them at some point and the next morning [the injury] blew up. I didn’t really feel it at the time when I hurt it.
“It’s completely cured; there is no problem with the hand and you’ll see it in action on Saturday night – no problem at all.”
“I studied [Relikh] a lot so I expect the same type of performance that I’ve studied, based off what he’s done in his past fights and what he did with me in our last fight. I know he’s strong, he’s a hard-hitter, and he always looks for that punch. I expect that this time around as well. He likes to exchange; that’s another thing I’m looking for. I know he’s going to come with all those tools in to the ring so I expect that and my team has prepared exactly for that.
“I feel like a completely new guy. In the past, I’ve eaten poorly before and after fights. I feel like I’ve reconnected with my youth. My energy has come back thanks to Bob Santos, my new strength and conditioning coach, who has taught me a lot about nutrition and things that I can use not just in the ring, but also outside of the ring — things I can use to prolong my life.
“I’m unlocking some of the skills I had in my younger days. They will be one of the key determining factors in how I perform on Saturday. I haven’t felt this good in a long time and I’m thankful for that because I feel like a new guy. I usually have concerns about making weight, but not this time around.
“My nutrition and physical condition took a toll on me last time I fought. I didn’t think my body was going to react the way it did when I got into the ring. My legs really gave out on me. But not now. This time around, I’m coming with a whole new gameplan and I’m not going to have to force myself to adapt to [Relikh’s] strategy. The first time we fought, I felt like I had to fight his fight. I had to make adjustments in the ring and exchange a lot with him. I took a lot of punishment.
“I’m definitely not looking past Relikh, I’m really focused on this fight. I want to win this fight. I’m looking for big names after. I can fight anyone between 135 and 147 now. Broner, Garcia, Lomachenko, it’s only big names what I’m after next.”
“This fight it’s a huge step up and probably my toughest fight to date. My opponent looks really good on paper and he has a lot of power. But I’m not concerned. I had a great camp and I’m ready to give my best in front of my hometown fans. I really hope he is ready to fight because I’m going to go in there on Saturday and take care of business. It’s going to be a very explosive fight.
“We are going to continue climbing the ranks at 140. I hope that I can face Mikey Garcia or Rances Barthelemy at some point. I think early next year I may be ready to go toe-to-toe with them.
“No added pressure fighting at home, all of this is motivation. I’ve been waiting to fight back here for a while. I’m excited for this opportunity
“Every time I’m out there in the Bay Area at Virgil Hunter’s gym I’m always picking up different things. Every camp, l learn from different guys at the gym – Andre Dirrell, Andre Ward, Amir Kahn. We have our game plan, which I can’t discuss, but going for it on Saturday. We should be able to go in there and take care of business, no problem.”