Linares says he injured his hand in Gesta fight
By Dan Ambrose: Jorge Linares (44-3, 27 KOs) says he suffered a right-hand injury in round 4 of his successful title defense against Mercito Gesta (31-2-2, 17 KOs) last Saturday night on HBO Boxing After Dark at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
Linares held onto his WBA World lightweight title and Ring strap in beating Gesta by a 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 118-110, 118-110 and 117-111. But for Linares, it was his second lackluster win in a row over opposition that was able to come on in the late rounds to give him problems.
Linares didn’t show anything against Gesta last night and in his fight before that against Luke Campbell that would suggest that he’s going to be able to beat WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia in their next fight. Based on how Linares looked against Gesta and Campbell, you would to view Mikey as a clear favorite to beat him handily.
“I didn’t really feel his [Gesta’s] power, though I hurt my hand in the fourth or fifth round,” said Linares. “I threw my right hand without really putting too much power into it. I was just touching him. There wasn’t a knockout because he was well prepared.”
Linares did what few top fighters in the lightweight division would do by making the 31-year-old southpaw Gesta look good. That’s not easy to do, because Gesta has been looking bad in his fights since his loss to Miguel Vazquez in 2012. It’s not because fringe #15 WBA Gesta is a good fighter that he was able to give Linares problems last Saturday night. It was because Linares is simply a vulnerable fighter, and not in the same league as Mikey Garcia and probably not even in the same league as IBF lightweight champion Robert Easter Jr. either.
If Top Rank chooses to target Linares for their fighter Vasyl Lomachenko, you would have to see it as a very winnable fight for the Ukrainian. Lomachenko and Mikey Garcia would both likely be favored to beat Linares. If Linares needs the payday he’d receive in facing Mikey or Lomachenko, then he should take those fights. If not, then he would be better off just defending his World Boxing Association 135 lb. title against the top contenders in the WBA’s top 15 rankings. Linares can possibly hold onto his WBA title for another year or 2 if he only defends against the top 15 guys in the rankings. But if Linares fights Mikey or Lomachenko, I see him losing badly to both.
Gesta was able to land shots all night long against Linares. If Gesta had any real power, he would have knocked him out. It was very surprising that Gesta was able to be as competitive as he was because he was supposed to be an over-matched opponent in this fight. Linares didn’t box him as well as he should have to make it an easy fight. You can argue that Linares might have been trying too hard to impress and not focusing on his defense the way he needed to for him to make this an easy fight.