SAN DIEGO, Calif., May 11, 2018 – Vasyl Lomachenko tightened his hold on the top spot on many pound for pound lists in December when he completely disarmed former Fighter of the Year Guillermo Rigondeaux. Observers were stunned to see the accomplished Cuban get taken apart by Lomachenko so badly he quit the fight after the sixth round.
Rigondeaux became the fourth straight opponent to quit in the corner against Lomachenko. That streak is likely to stop on Saturday when the Ukrainian faces his toughest test so far in 47 professional bouts against Jorge Linares of Venezuela. The pair fight at Madison Square Garden in the big room.
Vasiliy Lomachenko moves up in weight to fight Jorge Linares of Venezuela for the WBA lightweight championship. The fight from Madison Square Garden in New York, Saturday, May 12, is airing on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT .
Linares (44-3, 27 KOs), 32, puts his WBA and Ring Magazine lightweight titles on the line against Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs), 30. If Lomachenko wins, he will make boxing history by winning titles in three weight divisions with the fewest number of professional fights.
Masterpiece or master class for Lomachenko?
Masterpiece – or master class?
Who will be the teacher, and who will be the student? Both men have their advocates, and that’s what makes the fight so intriguing. Boxing fans should be salivating like hungry dogs with anticipation for Saturday night’s 130-pound championship fight.
Both men are southpaws with excellent technique in nearly every facet of boxing: speed, balance, and ring awareness. Both have all the power they need to score knockouts at a solid clip. Both are aggressive and should not have any hesitation engaging in the ring.
Lomachenko has dispatched Rigondeaux, Gary Russell Jr., Roman “Rocky” Martinez and Nicholas Walters. After the beat down of Rigondeaux, he joked that his nickname should now be “Nomaschenko.”
Lomachenko’s only loss came to a much larger Orlando Salido wiling to use every aggressive trick in the book. He won’t ever let that happen again.
Considering the way Lomachenko’s opponents have been not only beaten but demoralized by him in his recent fights, his confidence in the outcome against Linares is well-earned no matter how it comes about.
“Everybody has a chance when they get in the ring but I don’t like the way Linares has been talking ahead of the fight,” said Lomachenko. “I’m not scared of anyone and will fight anybody.”
Jorge Linares not intimidated by Lomachenko’s record
“I don’t think about stopping Linares and forcing him to quit,” said Linares. ”I don’t worry about that or need to do that. I do everything to win the fight and it doesn’t bother me how I win as long as I do win. It doesn’t bother me if I stop him, if he quits or if it’s a judges’ decision – I just want to win.”
Linares says he’s far from the “ordinary” fighters Lomachenko has faced. He says they didn’t know how to get out of trouble using their skills against the tricky opponent.
“I’m going to shut him up, plain and simple,” promised Liinares. “I know I have my advantages. I’m the natural lightweight here – he’s coming up. He needs to be ready. I’m going to shut him up. This fight is going to be very interesting.
“He knows what he’s in for. He knows that I’m not an ordinary fighter. He knows that I’m bigger, that I’m faster and he has tried to prepare for that. I know what I have to do too. We both have to be at our best.”
Linares says unlike Lomachenko, going through tough times including back to back losses have made him a better boxer. “A lot of people wrote me off. But hard work and dedication got me back in there. I suffered a lot but was able to get myself up,” said Linares.
“The motivation of fighting the best gets me up in the morning, not only Lomachenko, but that is really motivating me because I’m fighting the best pound-for-pounder in boxing and I want to continue fighting the best.”
Fight prediction: Uno mas for Lomachenko
It would be tough for anyone to match the phenomenal physical skills of Vasyl Lomachenko. Father/trainer Anatoly Lomachenko uses creative cross training techniques including swimming, gymnastics, weight training, and mental focus games in addition to traditional training. Lomachenko could quit boxing and go to work for Cirque du Soleil tomorrow.
Linares’ skills come via his unmatched experiences in the ring, both positive and negative. Both men hit hard, but their power comes from relentless accuracy and volume rather than one-punch KO power. You’ll catch yourself flinching numerous times watching this fight.
Linares is the naturally bigger man. In the end, it won’t matter. Lomachenko may need a few rounds to figure out how to get to Linares. Then the tide will turn no matter how good Linares might look in the early rounds. Lomachenko’s knack for slowing down his opponents in the ring in a real-life “Matrix” frustrates and perplexes them.
Lomachenko can circle to Linares’ right and work him hard to the body. He should then target Linares to the temples and brows, where the Venezuelan’s tendency to get cut will come into play. Yes, there will be blood in this fight, but it’s not going to be Ukrainian. Eventually, cuts and fatigue plus frustration will take away any advantages for the naturally stronger Linares. Lomachenko will be able to stop him in the later rounds.
Merely making it to the final bell againt Lomachenko would put Linares ahead of opponents who failed miserably trying to challenge him. Going the distance is as close to a victory as Linares will manage. Lomachenko will prove once again to any doubters still left exactly why he is the world’s best boxer in 2018. Period. End of discussion.
Saturday’s undercard offers solid matchups and Olympians
Prior to the main event, fans can watch a solid undercard via ESPN’s online streaming as well as RingTV.com
Welterweight contender Carlos Adames (13-0, 11 KOs) makes his Top Rank debut in the ESPN co-feature against Alejandro Barrera (27-4, 17 KOs). Irish Olympic silver medalist Michael Conlan (6-0, 5 KOs) fights in an eight-round featherweight bout against Ibon Larrinaga (10-1, 2 KOs) of Spain.
Former U.S. Olympian and U.S Marine Jamel Herring (16-2, 9 KOs) fights Juan Pablo Sanchez (29-15, 14 KOs) in an eight-round lightweight bout. Mikaela Mayer (4-0, 3 KOs) will face Baby Nansen (6-2-1, 0 KOs) of New Zealand, in a six-round women’s lightweight fight. 2016 Olympic gold medalist Fazliddin ‘Fayzi’ Gaibnazarov (3-0, 1 KO) of Uzbekistan, a stablemate of Lomachenko, has an eight-rounder against Jesus Silveyra (8-5-2, 3 KOs) of Monterrey, Mexico.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.
Copyright © 2018 by Falcon Valley Group