By: Bryant Romero
Vasiliy ‘Hi Tech’ Lomachenko will be heading into unfamiliar territory as a professional prize fighter as he will head 5 pounds north to the lightweight division and challenge the most established champion at 135 pounds in Jorge Linares (44-3, 27 KOs) on May 12 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs) will be challenging Linares for his WBA and Ring Magazine lightweight titles in just his first fight in the division. Linares is on an unbeaten 12 fight winning streak and is eager to prove that not only is he the bigger stronger man, but has the skills to match the talented Ukrainian. Lomachenko doesn’t seem fazed whatsoever at the size his opponent will bring come fight night and is confident that size won’t be a factor at all in this intriguing lightweight bout.
“For me, it’s a big challenge because before this fight, I fought against guys who were the same size or a little bit smaller than me,” Lomachenko said.
“Now, I want to feel the way Rigondeaux felt when he fought me. He was smaller than I at that point. I am going to be smaller than my opponents now. I want to show people it’s not a big problem, that five pounds is not too big of a difference.
“I wanted to go up to the next weight category, 135 pounds, and fight only champions. Jorge Linares was available for this moment. That’s why I wanted a fight with him.
“I was asked if I wanted to fight Linares. It took me less than two seconds to accept the challenge,” Lomachenko told the boxing media.
It’s the most important and biggest fight of both fighters careers and Lomachenko recognizes the history in not only fighting in New York but to get the chance to headline the big room at Madison Square Garden where boxing legends have been made.
“It’s important for me because I made my name in the history of boxing. Moving forward, I only want to fight in big arenas. I love New York. I love Madison Square Garden. I feel very comfortable there. The boxing fans are very knowledgeable. It’s a very famous arena. Fighting there is a big honor for me,” he said.
Bob Arum of Top Rank who promotes Lomachenko expects a capacity crowd of over 16,000 in attendance for this fight, which shows that the drawing power of the talented Ukrainian is significantly rising.
As for the two combatants themselves, there has been no shortage of verbal jabs being thrown at each in the lead up to this bout. But Lomachenko hopes that after the fight that Linares will show up at the post fight press conference.
“I like it. Before the fight, all boxers talk trash, but after the fight, nobody comes to the press conference. After this fight, I want to see Jorge Linares at the press conference, and I want to hear what he has to say,” Lomachenko said.
Bryant Romero can be reached on Twitter @BoxingTruth88