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Linares Stops Garcia, Looks Poor

Jorge LinaresBy Manuel Perez: Unbeaten super featherweight Jorge Linares (26-0, 17 KOs) struggled badly on Friday night, taking a lot of punishment at the hands of Panamanian Whyber Garcia (20-6, 14 KOs) for four rounds before opening up with a flurry of shots in the 5th, ending with referee Steve Smoger stepping in and halting the fight at 1:08 of the round. The win enabled Linares, the former World Boxing Council featherweight champion, to capture the vacant WBA super featherweight title, which had previously been vacated by former champion In November.

Linares, 23, originally from Venezuela and now living in Tokyo, Japan, vacated his WBC title in August in order to move up to the super featherweight division where there are more big name fighters with which to fight.

Linares, a fighter known for his smooth boxing moves in the ring, had a tough time with Garcia in the opening round, having to deal with his aggressive attacks while also having to listen to a hostile Panamanian crowd which roared loudly every time Garcia would land. Although Linares jabbed often in the round, it was Garcia who did the major work in the round, landing some hard looping punches to the head of Linares, who looked uncomfortable and weak in the new 130 pound weight class. Used to fighting opponents smaller, weaker and a lot more average in ability in Japan, Linares looked startled and confused by Garcia’s heavy attacks.

Early in the 2nd round, Linares unleashed a 10-punch flurry with many of the punches getting through the guard of Garcia. However, just as fast as he started, Linares went back dormant, throwing only jabs for the remainder of the round and continuing to get his with a lot of jabs and right hands thrown by the harder punching Garcia.

In the 3rd round, Garcia began to step up the pace in his attacks, coming at Linares fast with hard shots and catching him more often than not with shots to the head. Having been used to seeing Linares cruise through his mostly over-matched grade C level opponents while fighting in the featherweight division, it was shocking to see how easily he was being handled by Garcia, who at best is a decent B class fighter.

This wasn’t Yuirorkis Gamboa, Humberto Soto or Robert Guerrero, yet Linares was struggling as if Garcia was the undisputed champion of the super featherweight division. In the 4th round, Garcia continued dominating Linares, hitting him with big looping right hands and causing swelling to develop under both of his eyes.

Garcia had swelling of his own under his right eye, but nothing in comparison to both of Linares’ badly swollen eyes. Like in the previous round, Garcia continued to batter Linares with big shots, easily winning the round.

For his part, Linares was limited to jabs and occasional short combinations, but they were no match for all the punches that Garcia was raining down on him constantly. At the top of the 5th round, Garcia was fighting well until he missed a big sweeping left hook, leaving him off balance.

This seemed to give Linares some confidence as he unleashed a huge flurry of shots while Garcia was getting back into position, succeeding in staggering him. Linares then continued with another flurry of shots, driving Garcia to the ropes where referee Steve Smoger, who initially hesitated to stop the action, but after getting a close look, he stepped in between the two fighters and stopped the fight at 1:08 of the round.

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