By: Sean Crose
It wasn’t an easy fight to make, but Vasyl Lomachenko will be facing Jorge Linares for Linares’ WBA world lightweight title this coming spring. The 10-1 Lomachenko, considered by some to be the best pound for pound fighter in the world, is currently the WBO world super featherweight titlist. He’ll be moving up a division to battle the 44-3 Linares, who has held his own title since he bested Anthony Crolla in 2016. Should he win Linares’ belt, Lomachenko will have earned titles in three divisions in a career that spans only a dozen fights. The match will go down May 12th at Madison Square Garden in New York.
What makes this pairing unique, aside from the fact that it involves two strong talents, is that it brings together two powerhouse promotional entities in an era where political warfare rages throughout the sport of boxing. The fact that Linares is promoted by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions while Lomachenko is promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions means that both men are in (sometimes) opposing camps. To further complicate matters, De La Hoya and Arum have a relationship that has its own history of ups and downs.
In short, this bout was never a guaranteed thing. And, in fact, it looked for a while as if the match might not be happening at all, as negotiations appeared to have hit rough seas. Things seem to have been finally worked out, though, when ESPN, which showcases Top Rank fights, agreed to push back it’s slated broadcast for the evening of May 12th so that Lomachenko-Linares wouldn’t compete with HBOs replay of the Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin II broadcast later that same evening (Canelo-Golovkin II will be aired live on pay per view on May 5th and is – at least in part – a Golden Boy Promotion). Another possible factor in the deal being made was that Linares was reportedly offered a huge some of money (the exact amount was not available at the time this article was being penned) to face the feared Ukrainian Lomachenko.
With the pieces now being in place and the names now officially being signed on the contracts, the fight world can focus on what will surely be a fascinating bout. To say Lomachenko has been dominant in recent performances would be an understatement, as his past several opponents have literally quit on their stools. However, Linares is a skillful vet who hasn’t lost a bout since 2012. What’s more, he’s won his last 13 fights. To make things even more intriguing, there’s no guarantee the impressive Lomachenko will remain as forceful in the ring as he has been, since he’s now going to be moving up in weight yet again. The lightweight division is particularly hot right now, with names like Mikey Garcia (who fought and won last Saturday) and Robert Easter dotting the landscape. And news of Lomachenko-Linares stands to make matters all the more intriguing in the near future.