Ukrainian Vasyl Lomachenko's talents are one of a kind. "When a fighter wants to fight and the partner wants to fight, the fights get done". His punches were coming from all angles, but they weren't bothering me. That's obvious based on his thoughts about being in the ring with Lomachenko.
They fight Saturday night at Madison Square Garden for Linares' WBA lightweight championship as Lomachenko tries to win a title in his third weight class in just his 12th professional bout. Like Lomachenko, Linares has also won world titles in the featherweight and junior lightweight divisions.
Lomachenko and Linares, along with numerous undercard fighters, met the media one last time on Thursday.
"Definitely, we're going to L.A.", Arum said.
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However, Linares' eyes both began to swell as the bout dragged on and by the 10th, Lomachenko was leading on the scorecards of two of the judges. He popped Lomachenko, knocking him off his feet and sitting down hard, resulting in the first knockdown of his career. Linares, a Summerlin resident, managed to get up but the referee waved it off at the 2:08 mark.
Promoter Bob Arum said of Lomachenko: 'He was so much quicker [than Linares], but the guy clearly outsized him.
But the 11-1 man, known as Hi-Tech, pulled himself from the canvas and, four rounds later, dispatched a flawless liver shot to draw the bout to a close. I was wrong and he caught me.
Lomachenko was consistently listed as a 14-1 favorite Saturday, but Linares gave the two-time Olympic gold medalist his toughest fight since Mexican veteran Orlando Salido defeated him by split decision in his second pro fight four years ago. (21-0, 14 KOs).
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Lomachenko was moving up to the 135-pound class to challenge a champion who came in with a 13-fight winning streak, including seven title defenses. "That's what I will be looking for". But the first couple rounds, with little to distinguish between either man, might have justifiably been scored for Linares. Not only was Linares taller (5-8 to 5-7) and with a longer reach (69 inches to 65½) but he appeared to be visibly heavier.
The fight was a terrific battle from start to end but when the finish came - it was clinical.
Round eight saw Lomachenko demonstrate his fast hands and work, peppering Linares regularly however Linares despite being cut and bruised, landed the visibly more powerful shots. "He never weighed 152".
For a while early, and then right in the middle, it looked like Vasyl Lomachenko's otherworldly skill might not be enough to guarantee a victory against the bigger, faster and himself-pretty-skilled Jorge Linares.
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