Lomachenko and Linares—Looks Good on Paper

By Marc Livitz on May 11, 2018
Lomachenko and Linares—Looks Good on Paper
Here’s to a great night of boxing and the introduction to the masses of two great talents.

Saturday night on ESPN, the double gold medalist from Ukraine will make the jump to lightweight and find a potentially dangerous challenge in Jorge Linares…

At least twice a year, the most ardent of boxing fans don’t have to try to sell the idea of a high profile matchup to their casual sports friends. More than a few are always of the opinion that the most popular names immediately translate into instant entertainment, especially when coupled with the cream of the crop in terms of locales in Las Vegas. Add to that the increasingly higher prices of a pay-per-view telecast and what we’re often left with is a full house. Of course, some of us are simply too kind and hospitable to ask our respective guests to “chip in” in order to help with the almost obscene fees tied to pay TV events.

However, an ever growing trend of sorts which undoubtedly helps to ease our jangled nerves is championship bouts being televised on basic cable channels such as ESPN. For the time being, we’re able to see one of the absolute best fighters in the world in Vasyl Lomachenko on the channel. This Saturday evening, the double gold medalist from Ukraine will make the jump to lightweight and find a potentially dangerous challenge in Jorge Linares standing in the opposite corner.

The venue for the WBA lightweight championship clash is “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” Madison Square Garden in New York City. The promotion has been marketed the right way and though only the lower portion of the arena which sits atop Penn Station is being used, tickets are nonetheless priced with the blue-collar individual clearly in mind. They start at a modest $55. Saturday’s bout will the third consecutive appearance on ESPN for “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KO’s) and he’s yet to headline a pay-per-view telecast, though he has shared such nights as part of separate bouts on the undercard of superstars Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.

We last saw Vasyl in the ring this past Winter, when he made many a jaw drop as he made one of the world’s finest pound-for-pound talents in Guillermo Rigondeaux quit after six rounds. A year earlier, he did the same, albeit one round later to one of the sport’s most feared knockout artists, Nicholas Walters. ESPN’s done a good job to allow the general sporting public to get to know the 30-year-old, fifth year professional. His training methods are quite unorthodox. Boxing is a chess match of sorts and he knows this. Lomachenko doesn’t just train the body to its outer limits. Number drills in addition to vision and acuity exercises are also implemented to the point that VADA may want to skip a visit to his gym for surprise testing. MENSA may want to drop by instead.

The method with which he fights is certainly easy on the eyes of boxing fans and hopefully casual fans as well. Something that is also beginning to set him apart from other top talents such as Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, other than the fact that he hasn’t tested positive for performance enhancing substances is his grasp of and the ability to conduct interviews in English. Fair enough, of course if Canelo wishes to stay true to his roots and speak almost exclusively in Spanish except when it comes to slapping catchy slogans upon Under Armor t-shirts.

Granted, Saturday’s contest may indeed be the biggest of Lomachenko’s career. Jorge Linares (44-3, 27 KO’s) is the champion this time because “Hi-Tech” is jumping up in weight in an attempt to seek even bigger challenges and accomplish even bigger goals. At the moment, some betting houses have Lomachenko as more than just a prohibitive favorite to the tune of requiring a wager of $2,000 to win back $100. To some, that may either be an outright sign of disrespect towards Linares or the sentiment that his Ukrainian opponent may be nearly unbeatable as of late. In any case, Venezuela native “Nino de Oro” Jorge will need to stay active, especially in the early rounds if he’s to have any hope of throwing one of the planet’s best fighters off his rhythm.

Linares, a sixteen-year professional has basically spent the entirety of his career in Japan and not in his homeland, where he’s fought only four times. For a good while, he himself was among the world’s pound-for-pound best as well as one of the most avoided fighters in the sport. Many of us caught first sight of him when he made his American debut in the Summer of 2007. As part of the undercard of the light heavyweight journeys of boxing legend Bernard Hopkins (who topped Ronald “Winky” Wright by way of an impressive unanimous decision win), Linares scored a tenth round knockout victory against Oscar Larios in Las Vegas.

From that point on through the Spring of 2012, he had his ups and downs with seven wins (five by stoppage) but also three devastating knockout losses. In October of 2009, he was erased in just over one minute by Juan Carlos Salgado, who swarmed him from the opening bell in Japan. He’d run off four consecutive wins before Antonio DeMarco turned his face into a bloody piece of modern art en route to an eleventh round stoppage loss in a contest he was easily winning. Cuts across his nose and right eye made the difference. That particular bout took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, yet many of us didn’t see it live because it was part of the undercard leading up to the WBC light heavyweight bout between Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson, which was inexplicably distributed on pay TV.

Five months later, Linares was stopped once again, this time in less than two rounds by Sergio Thompson in Cancun. He was back in the ring before the end of 2012 and he hasn’t lost since then. He’s been the WBC lightweight champion and since the Fall of 2016, he’s held the WBA belt after he beat Anthony Crolla twice on Crolla’s home turf of Manchester, Lancashire, England.

Thus brings us to Saturday’s clash in Manhattan. ESPN has been doing its part to effectively advertise the action for what they hope will be a memorable evening. Here’s to a great night and the introduction to the masses of two great talents. Lomachenko knew he needed to move up in weight to keep himself legit in terms of always wanting to fight the best out there. Similarly, Jorge Linares, 32, is a veteran of 47 professional fights, some of them wars. Perhaps he understood the concept of shelf life and the idea of facing someone who won a world title in his third professional bout and has nearly 400 amateur bouts to his credit to be full of intrigue. Fasten your seatbelts.

Follow Marc Livitz on Twitter at https://twitter.com/fightawrita

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Linares vs Lomachenko - May 12th HD PROMO

Lomachenko vs. Linares promo. 2018/05/12. Ломаченко - Линарес. Промо.

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  1. Koolz 10:57am, 05/12/2018

    I don’t know about Promoter connection but there are lot of good coaches that pick up those fighters and rebuild them.
    I am sure it’s money as well.

    Linares has some pretty great story on his career from Japan.

    As for this fight well it’s Nomaschenko!!!

    Be like Water.  Water can crash, and Water can expand, be like Water my friends.

  2. rochel felicierta 02:46am, 05/12/2018

    i think theres money for venezuelan to fight in japan than their country

  3. raxman 11:55pm, 05/11/2018

    can anyone tell me why Venezuelan fighters seem to fight so much out of japan? Linares isn’t the only one. Frome memory the late great Edwin Valero fought a heap there too. and there have been others - is there some promoter connection?