The legend of Vasyl “High Tech” Lomachenko was enhanced after a scintillating 10th round stoppage over Jorge Linares, Saturday, May 12th. ESPN, the self professed “worldwide leader in Sports”, heavily featured Lomachenko in the days leading up to fight night, on its wildly popular news telecast, "Sportscenter". The 2-time Olympic gold medalist not only lived up to the hype, he exceeded it, winning a third world championship in a third weight class quicker than anyone in history. "Top Rank Boxing on ESPN" showcased this memorable event live in front of over 10,000 at Madison Square Garden, and a record televised prizefighting audience, on cable television.
It was a nip-tuck jab affair early, with both men looking to establish their sticks. Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KO’s) also worked in left crosses to the body while absorbing a couple headshots. Linares (44-4, 27 KO’s), a former three weight world champion himself, was increasingly more aggressive in round 2. He landed a thudding right hook to Lomachenko’s body, eliciting a slapping left hook, a push and a body-head flurry in response. By the 3rd and 4th, the Ukrainian’s activity, mastery of distance and feints began to pay dividends. He was a study in perpetual, yet purposeful motion; rapid-fire flurries punctuated by pivots to the outside of Linares’ shoulder (usually his left one), and southpaw jabs upstairs and down, some of them hard, some used merely to measure. Lomachenko changed levels, attacked, countered, moved, engaged, seemingly all at once, giving Linares a crystal clear picture of what makes him the best fighter in the world, pound for pound.
Just as it appeared Lomachenko had Linares in his back pocket, he walked into an overhand counter right in the 6th that floored him. Though up immediately and not appearing to be hurt, Lomachenko danced away the remainder of the round and early portions of the 7th. Clearly emboldened, the Venezuelan was back in the fight and excellent center ring exchanges ensued. Linares’ tender skin failed him in the 8th, however, as he suffered a cut along his left eye. Sadistically, Lomachenko targeted the wound with no remorse and head hunting commenced. In the 10th, Lomachenko continued this pattern, unleashing double jabs, uppercuts and hooks up top, before surprising Linares with a debilitating left hook to his unsuspecting and unprotected liver. Linares dropped to a knee, clutching his right side in pain. Bravely, he made it to his feet by the count of 9, but he was still bent over at the waist and the referee waved an end to the fight.
It’s what fistic greatness is all about; climbing off the canvas to stop a bigger, stronger, determined, well skilled foe. Even with the size discrepancy (Linares was reportedly 14 pounds heavier on fight night) and his defensive wherewithal, Lomachenko initiated the bulk of the action. The official scores were close at the time of the stoppage; 86-84 for Lomachenko, 86-84 for Linares and 85-85 even. A rematch certainly wouldn’t be to anyone’s dismay, but the more likely course of action is WBO Lightweight champion and promotional stablemate, Rey Beltran. Top Rank announced Lomachenko’s next bout will be August 25th at the Forum in Los Angeles and unifying his newly won WBA 135-pound strap with Beltran’s seems a natural fit.
Of course, the one fight the Boxing world wants is Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Mikey Garcia. Both fighters need this one to happen as well, for their respective legacies. But sadly, it boils down to the qualms and quirks of Top Rank’s head honcho, Bob Arum, who used to promote Mikey and hasn’t been terribly keen on the idea, when asked.