By: Hans Themistode
With reports circulating that Devin Haney vs Jorge Linares could happen in just a few short months, the former multiple division titlist appears to be all for it.
“Come on Devin let’s do this,” said Linares on his Twitter account. “Don’t run like Ryan.”
Linares, 35, is still under the belief that current WBC lightweight interim titlist Ryan Garcia, avoided him like the plague. While the two were originally on a collision course, Garcia opted to face Luke Campbell instead, a man Linares already defeated several years ago.
Garcia’s performance against Campbell proved to be a career-defining moment as he picked himself up off the canvas before ultimately stopping his man.
Although Linares could continue his pursuit of Garcia, he has seemingly focused his attention on Haney and his WBC title.
According to an earlier report by Mike Coppinger, the two could be headed towards an April clash. For Haney, news of facing Linares would be music to his ears as he has long been hoping to face one of the bigger names at 135 pounds.
A pandemic stricken 2020 may have limited Linares to only one ring appearance, a fourth-round knockout over Carlos Morales, but he would still be considered far and away the best opponent Haney has ever faced in his young career.
In short, the Las Vegas, resident is still attempting to prove his worth to the boxing world.
Since becoming an official world champion in late 2019, Haney has fought his critics outside of the ring. Most of his naysayers are under the impression that the budding star is simply all talk and doesn’t deserve to be labeled a champion due to the circumstances in which his belt was acquired.
After winning the interim version of the WBC title by stopping Zaur Abdullaev in the fourth in early 2019, Haney became the mandatory challenger to then full titleholder, Vasiliy Lomachenko. But while he pushed for a contest between them to materialize, Haney was instead gifted the full title as Lomachenko was elevated to Franchise Champion, a confusing new status introduced by President of the sanctioning body, Mauricio Sulaiman.
Since being handed the belt, Haney has defended it on two separate occasions. First, against fringe contender Alfredo Santiago, then, against long-faded former champion Yuriokis Gamboa.
Despite the fact that nothing has been officially announced, Linares appears to signal that their deal is much closer to becoming a reality than many realize.
“Big news is coming.”
By: Hans Themistode
Devin Haney has seemingly run out of names to call out for his next ring appearance. The WBC lightweight titlist has asked for matches against Gervonta Davis, Ryan Garcia and of course, undisputed champion Teofimo Lopez. None however, have decided to take him up on his offer.
With most in the boxing world still asking the 22-year-old to go out and prove himself before landing a big opportunity, Haney has seemingly taken their advice.
As first reported by Mike Coppinger of The Athletic, Haney and former multiple division titlist Jorge Linares are currently working behind the scenes on a showdown. If finalized, their contest would take place on April 17th.
For Haney, stepping into the ring against someone the caliber of Linares is exactly what the doctor ordered. Despite holding an undefeated record and regardless of having a world title draped over his shoulders, Haney (25-0, 15 KOs) is mostly viewed as an unproven commodity.
Most of those thoughts stem from Haney’s lack of upper-echelon competition. In his last ring appearance, Haney defended his title for the second time against long-faded former champion Yuriokis Gamboa. While many were expecting Haney to get rid of his man early, Haney was forced to settle for a unanimous decision victory.
Although Gamboa managed to win only a single round, considering how he was coming off a ruptured Achilles and is 39 years of age, Haney’s performance was regarded as mediocre.
In Linares, despite the fact that he is 35-years-old, he would be viewed as the most accomplished and most dangerous fighter Haney has ever faced.
The Venezuela native might be considered a top contender at 135 pounds but he is currently battling inactivity as he hasn’t fought for over a year. Before sitting on the sidelines, Linares (47-5, 29 KOs) was in the midst of a two-fight win streak. With that said, the former multiple division titlist was stopped in the first round against Pablo Cesar Cano as he attempted to move up in weight in early 2019.
Outside of that speed bump, Linares was credited for putting on what many described as a career-best performance against pound-for-pound star, Vasiliy Lomachenko in May of 2018. On the night in question, Linares dropped his man in the sixth round and mostly fought on even terms before ultimately succumbing to a tenth-round stoppage defeat.
By: Hans Themistode
There’s a reason why Vasiliy Lomachenko has been given nicknames such as “Hi-Tech,” and “The Matrix.” Simply put, the Ukrainian product is extremely difficult to hit inside of the ring.
In his latest contest however, Teofimo Lopez paid no attention to any of Lomachenko’s monikers. The 23-year-old found his man much easier to hit than even he anticipated. With 183 total shots landed, including a career-high 50 in the final round, Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs) is fully aware of the power that Lopez possesses. With that said, while he does admit that he was strong, power isn’t the tell-all be all in the sport of boxing.
“He is a strong guy,” said Lomachenko during an interview with SnowQueenLA on YouTube. “But I can’t say he has some vicious punches that could knock you out cold. Yes, he does hit hard. But, you understand it’s not about how hard you hit. It’s about how accurate your punches land in certain parts of the head. Then, it could end up bad.”
On paper, Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) is undoubtedly the hardest hitting fighter Lomachenko has ever faced. However, it was a 2018 matchup with Jorge Linares which saw Lomachenko hit the deck.
Regardless of that, Lomachenko had a quick response when asked who hits harder between the two.
“I wouldn’t say that Linares hits harder. Lopez does hit harder. Linares threw a punch when I was stepping in and coming towards him. Those types of punches are the most dangerous type of punches in boxing. He landed that one accurately at me with the precise timing when I was stepping in towards him.”
Lomachenko would, of course, peel himself up off the canvas in the sixth to stop Linares in the tenth round. Despite the knockdown, the 32-year-old claimed that he was never in any serious trouble. Those thoughts were once again shared for his latest contest against Lopez. Even with his younger opponent landing 183 total shots, including a career-high 50 in the final round, Lomachenko believes he wasn’t in any real trouble.
“He did land some punches. It didn’t hurt me, maybe because he didn’t land them right or maybe he is not as strong as he seems to be.”
While Lomachenko claims that he wasn’t in any serious trouble, the former two-time Olympic gold medalist would come up short during their undisputed lightweight contest roughly two months ago. The results though, aren’t something that he agrees with.
From the moment the three judges sitting ringside handed in their scorecards, Lomachenko has called for an immediate rematch. Nevertheless, with no rematch clause in their initial contract, the former three-division belt holder understands that his wishes won’t be granted anytime soon.
“I still hope for a rematch but I also understand right now it’s not possible.”
By: Hans Themistode
Former three division world champion Jorge Linares (47-5, 29 KOs) has kept a close eye on pound for pound star Vasiliy Lomachenko. Both men shared the ring against one another in May of 2018. According to most observers, Linares is credited with giving the former two time Olympic gold medalist the toughest fight of his career.
The Venezuela native not only kept up with Lomachenko from a technical standpoint, but in large spots, he out boxed his man. With a knockdown to his name in the sixth round, Linares was down by two points on one scorecard, up by the same score on another, while the third judge saw things even, before ultimately getting stopped in the tenth round.
His performance on the night is something that has made him proud. But while he was left impressed with Lomachenko’s capabilities in the ring, he noticed something as of late.
“Lomachenko is not the same guy as he was in my fight,” said Linares during a recent interview with Fight Hub. “He’s not the same. Nope. He is different. He hasn’t done an amazing job since my fight. He’s not the same guy. Maybe because he’s old. It’s been two years since our fight and people change so much after two years.”
At the age of 32, Lomachenko is currently two years, younger than Linares. Still, the wear and tear from two successful trips to the Olympics in 2008 and 2012 coupled with an extensive amateur career that saw him go a ridiculous 396-1, Linares believes that the mileage is adding up not only for Lomachenko but also for 38 year old Gennadiy Golovkin (GGG).
The current IBF middleweight belt holder struggled mightily in his latest ring appearance against Sergiy Derevyanchenko. While he chalked it up to being under the weather, Linares simply wasn’t buying it.
With his 35th birthday staring him directly in the face later this month, the former three division world champion doesn’t believe he should be in the same category as those he has criticized. For Linares, both Lomachenko and Golovkin are heading towards the ground floor on their elevators. For the Venezuelan native however, he still has a few more floors to climb.
“Lomachenko has spent so much of his life training and GGG is the same way. Now, they are going down. But look at me, I’m 34, turning 35 next month but I’m going to the top.”
Despite the assessment that his skills are fading, Linares still believes that Lomachenko is a great fighter. However, his aura of invincibility is slowly fading away.
“Lomachenko is a very smart guy and fast, very difficult but he isn’t the same guy anymore.”
By: Hans Themistode
Former three division world champion Jorge Linares knows what it feels like to be considered one of the best fighters in the world. But he also knows what it feels like to share the ring with who many consider to be at the top of that list in Vasiliy Lomachenko.
Outside of the lone loss of his career against Orlando Salido, Linares gave Lomachenko everything he could handle back in 2018. Even dropping the unified champion during the mid portion of the contest. Unfortunately for Linares though, after said knockdown, he was out boxed and stopped in the tenth round.
At the moment, it’s safe to say that the Lightweight division is one of the most stacked in all of boxing. With fighters such as Devin Haney, Gervonta Davis and Leo Santa Cruz the deck is stacked against Lomachenko. With that being said however, none of those aforementioned fighters can hold a candle to the unified champion. At least, according to Linares.
“We can see they have a lot of good boxers in lightweight,” said Linares on the Ak and Barak show. “But, you know, I was fighting with Lomachenko. He’s still the best at lightweight. But, you know, he has a big, tough opponent next. It’s Teofimo Lopez, right? So, Teofimo Lopez is a good fighter, too.”
Over the past few years, Lomachenko has found his name on just about everyone’s hit list. But current IBF titlist Teofimo Lopez is the next man up. He earned the biggest fight of his career with a second round highlight reel knockout over former champion Richard Commey.
Whenever Lomachenko has stepped foot inside of a ring, he was viewed as an overwhelming favorite. With two gold medals, world titles in three weight classes and 396 wins with only one defeat in the amateurs and it’s easy to see why. But in the case of Lopez, there are plenty who are giving the 22 year old a shot to pull off the upset.
Linares, though, is incredulous to that statement and the chances of Lopez in that contest.
“I don’t think so,” Linares said. “Lomachenko is different right now. After my fight, Lomachenko changed so much, right? So much, but he’s still the best, for me.”
By: Hans Themistode
Ryan Garcia seemingly has it all. Tons of money in his bank account, endless knockout highlight reels and most importantly millions upon millions of followers on his social media accounts. That all sounds good and well, but to former multiple division world champion Jorge Linares, it doesn’t exactly excite him.
“[Garcia] is a good prospect but, you never know in boxing, here today and gone tomorrow,” Linares said in an interview conducted by Nick Libonati and filmed by New Fly Films’ Stefan Newman. “But if he wants to fight me, he needs to first get one of these belts. If he truly wants to fight me, first he needs to win a world title.”
Even without a world title, both Linares and Garcia were on track for a July showdown. Those plans were obviously scrapped when COVID-19 decided to run a muck across the entire world. Stopping every sporting event in its track.
At the age of 21, Garcia has accomplished a lot for himself. He currently holds the WBC Silver Lightweight title. He also has a top three ranking in three of the four sanctioning bodies. Number two in both the WBO and WBA and number three in the WBC. Impressive to most, but to Linares he simply rolls his eyes and yawns.
“At 21, I was crowned World Champion in Las Vegas,” notes Linares. “I beat a great World Champion boxer, Oscar Larios and after that I was World Champion 3 more times. Despite some defeats I got up again and again. You achieved a world title at 21? RG?”
A matchup between the two seemed to be all but done before the sports world shutdown. But now, Linares doesn’t seem as interested in a possible showdown. Unless of course, Garcia grabs a world title.
“I’m a four-time world champion in three different weight divisions. He’s the internet champion,” insists Linares. “He’s still a long way from winning one of these. But in the event that he wins one of these belts, now we’re talking. Let’s call our promoter and we can do that fight.”
By Hans Olson
Too often in sports, fans and observers have little perspective.
In boxing in particular, there is even less.
Over the weekend in Cancun, Mexico, Venezuelan prodigy Jorge Linares was stopped in two rounds by the little known Sergio Thompson. It was Jorge’s 3rd loss in his pro career, and one that mirrored not his recent losing war of attrition to Antonio DeMarco, but rather his shocking 1st round knockout loss to Juan Carlos Salgado in October of 2009.
Thompson (22-2) started fast at the bell, setting the tone to what would be a thrilling first round. Early in the bout, Jorge appeared uncomfortable. Thompson controlled the ring and landed several flush rights, the pawing jab of Linares doing little to deter the forward-charging Mexican. When Linares did start to land his jab—mostly as a counter—its success was fleeting.
Toward the round’s two-minute mark, Jorge was sent reeling to the ropes as Thompson flurried a barrage of power punches. This forced the fight out of Linares, for at this moment he started to let his hands go, punching in beautiful combinations—a defiant stand that would cost him dearly. Engaging in a firefight was certainly against his best interests, although a thundering left hook did stagger Thompson. As the round came to a close, many had the feeling we could either be in for another classic, or Linares would meet an early demise.
We saw the latter.
At 1:16, Thompson looped a bomb of a right hand, jarring Linares, who then entered survival mode. Over the next 20 seconds, Thompson landed array of punches, eventually sending Linares down. As the bleeding Linares stood up, referee Bill Clancy called timeout for an examination of the cut over Jorge’s left eye. After looking at the cut briefly, the doctor pulled out a red card to stop the fight.
Immediately after, online cries from couch-side fans all but read the last rites on the career of Jorge Linares.
“Cuts too easily.”
“Will never be as good as advertised.”
“Can’t take a punch.”
Along with the harsh criticism, many writers and know-it-all fans blasted Linares and Golden Boy Promotions for what turned out to be a mistake in taking what was supposed to be a tune-up fight before a big-money rematch with DeMarco in July on Showtime.
It’s a sign of the times when everyone cares more about the potentials than the actuals—for it was not only the potential of a rematch with DeMarco, but the potential of Linares himself, that everyone cared about.
Looking at the fighters and the sport itself for what they, and for what it is…should be a habit more familiarize themselves with.
You’ll often hear the argument that the fighters of today’s era “don’t fight often enough.”
In the next breath, you’ll hear about fighters making “bad business moves,” like the one that Linares and team apparently made in taking the Thompson fight.
Then came more criticism.
This time, it was from Oscar De La Hoya, directed at Linares’ trainer, Freddie Roach…though this criticism may be fair.
After the fight, De La Hoya had taken to his Twitter account.
“Linares needs a new trainer,” tweeted De La Hoya. “He has so much natural ability but has no defense.”
“He needs a new trainer someone that is going to pay attention and teach him defense!”
With Roach’s hectic schedule and commitments to Manny Pacquiao, Julio Chavez Jr., and Amir Khan among others, it isn’t crazy to suggest that Jorge might indeed need more attention paid to him.
Perhaps the Freddie project just isn’t working.
“I will continue boxing, but we have to improve a few things,” said Linares in a report by Boxing Scene’s Jhonny Gonzalez. “I have to speak with Golden Boy Promotions to figure out [my next move].”
It’s likely that Oscar De La Hoya will advise him as his tweeting suggested: He wants Roach out.
“Look at his natural ability if he had defense he would be untouchable,” continued De La Hoya’s Twitter feed.
It’s ironic, because Freddie Roach pieced back together the career of Amir Khan after his shocking knockout loss to Breidis Prescott in 2008. Roach tightened Khan’s defense, guided him with an intelligent move up in weight class, and along with strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza, reconstructed Khan’s body from a the top-heavy muscular build to a balanced physique. In the proper weight class with stronger lower body and core strength paired with improved defense, Khan showed astonishing improvement.
It’s curious why Jorge Linares hasn’t had similar success.
Actually, maybe it’s not.
Because he’s not Amir Khan. He’s a different fighter, with different strengths and weaknesses.
It might not be with Freddie Roach, but Jorge Linares does indeed have the skills to compete at the elite level despite the recent setbacks.
In actuality, he might come back better than ever. It’s times like these when a fighter is often able to put it all together, strengthening the strengths and nullifying weaknesses. This is when they become great. Just ask Wladimir Klitschko.
Linares simply has to acknowledge his defensive liabilities and adjust into a different fighter. Sure, he might not give us the same blood-and-guts wars like we saw against DeMarco, but he’ll be winning fights. And hey, who’s to say having that penchant for mixing it up wouldn’t be a good card to pull out when absolutely needed?
He’ll need to work on creating angles and avoiding right hands. And if he can’t avoid them, he needs to keep his left hand up and forget about rolling with those punches. He’ll likely need to modify his wide-stance, a stance similar in nature to that of Adrien Broner. Where a wider stance creates power, it also leaves fighters less mobile to a certain degree…and Jorge’s upper body movement and defense in the pocket isn’t comparable to that of Broner.
But Linares has many gifts that even fighters like Khan and Broner don’t have. Few in boxing can counter punch as well as Jorge Linares. His blazing speed and combination punching sets him apart from most active fighters. Utilizing those skills with improved defense and a more cautious style are certain to keep him in the 135 discussion for some time.
Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Jorge Linares will continue, and likely with the courage that so many of his critics don’t, and will never have.