Welterweights Sergey Lipinets and Custio Clayton hoped to walk away from their fight with the interim IBF title. Instead, neither did.
Former champion Sergey Lipinets and contender Custio Clayton met on Saturday, Oct. 24, on Showtime. The interim IBF welterweight title was on the line, and both men went all out to try and get it. Unfortunately, the judges decided the bout was too close to call.
Lipinets (16-1-1, 12 KOs) was heavily favored over the undefeated, yet previously untested, Clayton. Lipinets won the IBF junior welterweight title in 2017 but lost it in his first defense against Mikey Garcia. His contest with Custio was his shot at another belt, but Cayton proved to be the real deal.
Clayton (18-0-1, 12 KOs) flew under the welterweight radar but was a 2012 Olympian for Canada who made it to the quarterfinal round. He has gone undefeated as a professional over the last six years but didn’t receive the kind of respect garnered by most contenders.
In fact, Clayton was a late replacement. Lipinets was supposed to fight Kudratillo Abdukakhorov, but Abdukakhorov struggled to get clearance to travel to the U.S. and couldn’t participate. Abdukakhorov’s bad luck proved to be Clayton’s big break. He didn’t get the win, but Clayton put his name on the map.
The 33-year-old Canadian gave Lipinets all he could handle. Clayton demonstrated masterful footwork and counterpunching as he made Lipinets chase him throughout the night. Lipinets struggled to figure Clayton out and couldn’t cut off the ring.
Custio Clayton and Sergey Lipinets fought to a draw, but Clayton’s name gets the biggest boost from this matchup
Clayton’s best weapon was his jab, which he landed often. He was more active than Lipinets throughout the fight. According to ShoStats, Clayton out-landed Lipinets by 72 punches.
Lipinets established himself as an above-average power puncher throughout his career. His 2019 beatdown of former champion Lamont Peterson showed his potential, but Clayton found a way to nullify Lipinets pressure style.
Clayton is musclebound, yet he has the ability to move about the ring quickly. Lipinets couldn’t trap him against the ropes, and it threw off his rhythm.
The fight went the full 12 rounds. One judge had it 115-113 for Clayton, but the other two scored it 114-114. The result was a majority draw despite Clayton winning in every meaningful punch statistic.
It was a close fight, but one that Clayton deserved to win. He didn’t get the victory, but Clayton’s performance impressed and will warrant more future opportunities.
“At the end of the day, you can’t knock the judges’ decision, but I thought that I landed the cleaner shots and won,” said Clayton at the end of the night. “He came forward a lot, but he wasn’t landing as much. I probably could have pushed more a little earlier, but at the same time, I knew he was strong. I thought I stayed patient and poised. I could have put combinations together quicker, but overall I thought I fought a smart fight and pulled it off.”
Lipinets fought admirably but showed the defensive shortcomings that cost him the fight against Garcia in 2018. He’s a tough fighter, but Lipinets likely won’t grow much in terms of defense. It will be interesting to see what’s next for both Lipinets and Clayton.