Fight Night Tips: Best bets for Linares v Lomachenko
We make our pick for Saturday night's lightweight world title at Madison Square Garden, which pits two of the world's most skilful boxers against each other.
Saturday night’s fight at Madison Square Garden should be a treat for boxing fans, as two of the world’s slickest boxers meet for the WBA and lineal lightweight titles.
Jorge Linares is well-known in the UK after beating British fighters Kevin Mitchell, Anthony Crolla (twice) and Luke Campbell, all since May 2015.
The 32-year-old Venezuelan has been on a fantastic run for a long time now, winning 13 successive fights dating back to 2012. In Vasyl Lomachenko, though, the lightweight world champion faces the biggest test of his career.
The Ukrainian is third in The Ring magazine’s pound-for-pound rankings, having won world titles at two different weights in just 11 professional fights.
He challenged Orlando Salido for the WBO featherweight title in his second career bout and was narrowly beaten, but came back to win that very same belt in his next fight and has since scooped up the WBO junior lightweight belt as well.
Lomachenko beat the previously undefeated Guillermo Rigondeaux in just six rounds last time out in December, and the 30-year-old’s last four opponents have all either quit on the stool or been pulled out by their corners.
That in itself illustrates that, while Lomachenko isn’t necessarily a powerful puncher, he demoralises his opponents with relentless pressure and a Matrix-like ability to dodge anything thrown at him.
Linares will hold a slight size advantage on Saturday night, as Lomachenko is moving up in weight for the third time in his career, but this isn’t going to be a fight where either boxer tries to throw their weight around.
It’s all going to be about footwork, speed and movement, and it’s hard to see any fighter – even one as great as Linares – matching up with Lomachenko in that regard.
The Ukrainian should use his superior jab and defence to edge the majority of the exchanges and win this fight, but will probably fall short of knocking Linares out given the lightweight champion’s size and experience.
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