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Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Jorge Linares in talks for April 28 or May 12

Jorge Linares Vasyl Lomachenko

By Chris Williams: Fight discussions are underway for a match between WBA World lightweight champion Jorge ‘El Nino de Oro’ Linares and Top Rank fighter Vasyl Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs) for April 28 or May 12, according to ESPN.

The location for the Linares-Lomachenko (44-3, 27 KOs) fight still isn’t known at this point. It’s still too early for the venue to be selected.

Lomachenko’s promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank is in negotiations with Linares’ co-promoter Akihiko Honda of Tieken Promotions to try and put the fight together.

Arum wanted to start working on the Lomachenko-Linares negotiations, but he had to wait until Linares finished defending his World Boxing Association lightweight title against former Top Rank fighter #15 WBA Mercito Gesta (31-2-2, 17 KOs) last Saturday night at the Forum in Inglewood, California. Linares defeated Gesta by a one-sided but competitive 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 118-110, 118-110 and 117-111. Linares suffered a right hand injury in the fight in the 4th. It’s unclear to what extent the injury will slow Linares’ ability to defend his WBA and Ring lightweight title against Lomachenko. Linares did not look good against Gesta even in the first 3 rounds before he suffered the hand injury.

Arum is going to try and work a deal with Honda and then contact Linares’ co-promoters at Golden Boy Promotions to complete the deal. It’s unclear whether Golden Boy is eager to make the fight with Lomachenko or not. But if Linares and his co-promoters at Tieken Promotions like the idea making the fight with Lomachenko, then the fight will likely take place. Linares wants to face either Lomachenko

“I’ve been talking to Mr. Honda for a month about the possibility of Linares-Lomachenko,” Arum said to “But I had to wait for Linares to fight on Saturday night and see how things turned out. Well, the kid won. Now we can discuss terms for the fight. I’m waiting to hear back from Honda.”

Besides Lomachenko, WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs) is also a possible opponent for Linares to fight. Unfortunately for Mikey, he’s scheduled to face IBF World light welterweight champion Sergey Lipinets (13-0, 10 KOs) on March 10 at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas. That fight was previously scheduled for February, but Lipinets suffered a hand injury while training and the fight had to be postponed.

Mikey could have fought Linares, but he chose to move up to the 140 lb. division to take the lesser fight against little known Lipinets. Mikey wanted to win his 4th division world title so he could have that for his legacy. Unfortunately the move to take the Lipinets fight will likely cost him the shot to face Linares while he’s still the WBA champion. Lomachenko would have to be seen as having a great chance of beating Linares at this point.

Lomachenko, 29, is moving up in weight from the super featherweight division to go after another world title in his 3rd weight class at lightweight at 135. Lomachenko has previously captured world titles at 126 [featherweight] and 130 [super featherweight]. Lomachenko wants to fight at lightweight where he’ll be closer to bigger money fights against guys like Mikey Garcia and Manny Pacquiao. For Lomachenko to fights against the likes of Keith Thurman, Errol Spence, Danny Garcia or Terence Crawford, he’ll probably need to move up to 147 for any of those fights to happen. Given the very careful way Lomachenko goes about picking his opponents and moving up in weight, it’s doubtful he’ll ever face any of the current top welterweights aside from 39-year-old Pacquiao, who is arguably over-the-hill at his point in his career. Pacquiao is a senator in the Philippines, and that job takes up all of his time. Pacquiao looked like a shell of his former self in his last fight against Jeff Horn. If Lomachenko wants a high profile win over a welterweight, he’s got a great chance of picking up a win over Pacquiao, but not against the younger welterweights like Spence, Thurman, Crawford and Garcia.

Linares’ promoter Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions said this to about Linares fighting Lomachenko: “I want Linares to fight Lomachenko next and if Bob Arum is serious about making the fight, then I’ll wait for his offer and see what it is. But that’s the fight we want next for Linares. That’s the fight the fans want to watch and I’m all for it.”

You have to wonder whether De La Hoya really wants the Linares vs. Lomachenko fight or if he’s just saying that he’s good with it due to him wanting to give his fighter the fight that he wants. Lomachenko is not a good style match-up for Linares. I can’t see Linares winning that fight based on how many problems he had against the southpaw Gesta. The Filipino fighter has better hand speed and punching power than Lomachenko, but he’s not as a good of a boxer. Lomachenko moves around a lot, and he changes his punching angles. He’s a clever fighter that is hard to beat. Linares will certainly be a tough fight for Lomachenko, but I see the Ukrainian winning.

The good news about Linares is he has so much talent that even if he loses to Lomachenko, it’ll be easy enough for him to go after the winner of the WBO lightweight belt, which is in the process of being fought over by Top Rank fighter Raymundo Beltran and Paulus Moses or the IBF belt against Robert Easter Jr. Those would be tough fights for Linares, but certainly ones that he can win.

Lomachenko easily won his last fight in defeating 37-year-old Guillermo Rigondeaux, who had to move up 2 weight classes form the super bantamweight division to fight Lomachenko without the benefit of a catch-weight on December 9. Lomachenko received very little credit for the win over the Cuban fighter due to his huge size advantage. It would have more sporting for Lomachenko if he’d at least agreed to a catch-weight or met Rigondeaux halfway between super bantamweight and super featherweight at 126. Lomachenko chose not to make the fight with Rigondeaux a fairer one. It’s unclear whether Lomachenko will try and get an advantage over Linares or not by getting some kind of perk that will help him win the fight. Given that Lomachenko didn’t give Rigondeaux a handicap, it would look bad if he attempted to get a handicap for himself against Linares.

Lomachenko recently turned down a fight with Pacquiao. He had the chance to fight Pacquiao. He reportedly felt he wouldn’t get credit if he fought the 39-year-old Pacquiao. Lomachenko has the opportunity to fight Terence Crawford if he wants to receive credit from the boxing fans. Thus far, Lomachenko hasn’t mentioned wanting to fight Crawford for some reason.

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