We're going to learn a thing or two about power this Saturday, May 12th; the drawing power and punching power of Vasyl Lomachenko, to be exact. This certified alpha-male will headline at the 21,000 capacity main room at Madison Square Garden, televised by ESPN (8PM CST), promoted by Top Rank. He will be facing former three division world champion, Jorge Linares, a seasoned veteran who's viewing Lomachenko as the icing on the cake of his boxing career.
With all due respect to Gennady Golovkin, Terrance Crawford, Mikey Garcia and Errol Spence, Vasyl Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KO’s) is considered by most to be the best fighter in the world, pound for pound. As he looks to add a third world championship of his own to the collection, the Ukrainian’s pedigree, athleticism, footwork, combinations, speed, activity, accuracy, creativity and competitive arrogance all conspire to keep him a step above his peers.
After losing a razor thin decision to an over-the weight limit Orlando Salido (who flirted with or flat out broke just about all the rules of prizefighting), in his second bout, Lomachenko’s impressively barnstormed his way thru two divisions. He decisively beat Gary Russell, Jr. for a Featherweight belt, defended it a time or three, then KO’ed Roman Martinez for a Super Featherweight title a year later. Since then, opponents literally can’t stand being in the ring with “Loma”, with no fewer than four straight quitting outright, rather than falling on their proverbial shields. Even the likes of the undefeated Nicholas Walters and Cuban legend, Guillermo Rigondeaux, willingly parted ways with their undefeated records, prompting the alter-ego “No-Mas-chencko”.
With no more realistic names on the 130-pound horizon, Lomachenko seeks 135-pound fish to fry, and first up to bat is WBA Lightweight champion, Jorge Linares (44-3, 27 KO’s). Linares, from Venezuela, also held straps at 126 and 130. He’s beaten quality foes like Rocky Juarez, Jesus Chavez, Oscar Larios, Mercito Gesta, Luke Campbell and others.
Linares comes to fight, every time out, has a varied offensive attack, but he’s taken his fair share of “L’s”, all by stoppage. The fact of the matter is, his skin is just north of tissue paper and he doesn’t have the best chin or defense either. Power isn’t Lomachenko’s strongest suit, necessarily, but given his punch output, it stands to reason he hits more than hard enough to cut, hurt and finish Linares in 6-7 rounds. For what it’s worth, Linares is adamant that he will not quit, as has become the norm for “Loma” these days. And a win will almost assuredly be enough to garner inclusion into the Boxing Hall of Fame.
This will also gauge Lomachenko’s worth as an attraction; he’s performed in front of sell out crowds at the Madison Square Garden Theatre, seating just 1,200 or so. The MSG big room holds nearly twenty times that amount.