Linares-Lomachenko: Tacticians Battle for WBA Lightweight Belt

Monday, May 7, 2018 5:04 PM UTC

Monday, May. 7, 2018 5:04 PM UTC

Looking for an early potential Fight of the Year candidate in boxing? Saturday night's Jorge Linares-Vasyl Lomachenko lightweight title bout could have all the goods. 

Boxing fans around the world were jobbed out of seeing the potential fight of the year on May 5 between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez because Alvarez failed a drug test – yeah, sure it was tainted meat he ate. Golovkin would dominate fill-in/overmatched Vanes Martirosyan with a second-round knockout as GGG retained his middleweight title for the 20th time.

That fight was never supposed to be competitive as Golovkin was a -3100 favorite at Intertops. This Saturday, we should have a much better matchup as Jorge Linares takes on Vasyl Lomachenko for Linares’ WBA lightweight title. Lomachenko is a -1600 favorite at Intertops with Linares at +700 and a draw at +2800. The fight is from Madison Square Garden New York and will be shown on ESPN (8 p.m. ET start so as to not going head-to-head against an HBO card later Saturday).

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Lomachenko is 10-1 with eight knockouts in his career. The Ukrainian 30-year-old WBO super featherweight has dominated his past nine opponents since losing to Orlando Salido in March 2014. Ring Magazine ranks Lomachenko the No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter on the planet behind Golovkin and junior welterweight champ Terence Crawford. Lomachenko comes off a victory over Guillermo Rigondeaux in the first-ever professional fight between two-time Olympic gold-medal winners. Rigondeaux was getting pummeled and quit on his stool with an injured left hand after the sixth round.

It was the fourth straight fight that a Lomachenko opponent either had the corner throw in the towel or quit in his own (also Nicholas Walters, Jason Sosa and Miguel Marriaga). "I guess I should change my name now to No-Mas-Chenko,” Lomachenko said after, referring to the infamous “No Mas” line that Roberto Durant said to the referee when Durant quit in his fight against Sugar Ray Leonard.

Lomachenko fought that at 129 pounds and the lightweight limit is 135. He's looking for a world title in his third weight class (featherweight limit of 126 pounds and super featherweight limit of 130) in just his 12th pro fight, which would be a record for fewest fights needed to accomplish that. He was voted the 2017 fighter of the year by the Boxing Writers Association of America.

“For me, it’s a big challenge because before this fight, I fought against guys who were the same size or a little bit smaller than me,” Lomachenko said of the move up in weight. “I am going to be smaller than my opponents now. I want to show people it’s not a big problem, that five pounds is not too big of a difference.”

The 32-year-old Linares (44-3, 27 KOs), from Venezuela, is Ring Magazine’s top-ranked lightweight and has won titles in three weight classes. He hasn’t lost since March 2012 against Sergio Thompson. Linares was last in the ring in January outside Los Angeles and beat Mercito Gesta by a lopsided unanimous decision. That was Linares’ third title defense, and he will be trying for a 14th win in a row. Linares has won straight lightweight title fights and has held belts at four different weight classes from super bantamweight to lightweight.

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