Linares retains titles In close split decision
By Anthony Montero: An excellent back and forth battle for the WBA and Ring Lightweight titles took place Saturday night at the Forum in Inglewood California between defending champion Jorge Linares and gutsy challenger Luke Campbell.
(Photo Credit: Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions)
Most predicted Campbell, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist for Britain, to be blown out early by the hard hitting and well experienced champion, and by the first two rounds it appeared to be going just that way.
Linares was stalking his challenger around the ring, looking to land that one knockout punch to end the fight, and near the end of the 2nd round he landed a sweeping right hand that dropped the challenger on his back.
The crowd jumped up screaming and cheering for a knockout finish, however to many’s surprise the game and tough Campbell rose to his feet and continued on. Although it was later reported that Campbell could only see out of one eye after the knockdown he somehow managed to bring himself back into the fight and dominate several of the middle and later rounds.
Using his vast amateur and Olympic experience, he moved around the ring brilliantly landing solid right hooks to keep Linares off balance, forcing him to continually set himself back up in order to engage in his own offense. However the true difference maker in this fight was punching power and punching volume. From the onset it was evident that Linares hit with authority, almost every punch he landed moved Campbell backwards. This comes from years of experience in the pro ranks and being at the championship level.
Campbell still appeared to punch like an amateur, more concerned with connecting and covering up as apposed to sitting down on his punches and landing with thunderous power. Also Linares was more prone to throw punches in combination, landing several shots at one time, where Campbell was content with landing one solid shot and moving out of range. Although Campbell did great work in spots and made it a very close fight, he didn’t do enough to lift the titles from Linares, who marched forward the entire match bringing the fight to Campbell.
The British fans in the audience surely disagreed as they went insane chanting each time their man landed a punch, making it more than fun to be present in the arena. In the championship rounds Linares had done enough body work to slow his opponent down just a bit to ensure his victory, winning a close split decision, the one judge scoring it for Campbell obviously being from Britain.
Make no mistake, Campbell proved he belongs in the ring with the best at lightweight and will most likely be challenging for a title again in the near future. For now boxing fans can only hope that Linares holds true to the statement that he made in the post fight interview, that he wants to unify titles by fighting the WBC Lightweight champion Mikey Garcia. Style wise this would be an explosive bout as Linares and Garcia match up quite evenly, although Garcia has the edge in knockout power. That fight would have a higher chance of not going to the cards, something boxing fans appreciate and love.