Linares says Lomachenko not as dangerous as Mikey Garcia
By Chris Williams: Jorge Linares (44-3, 27 KOs) is less worried about the threat Vasyl Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs) poses for him on Saturday night than what WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia (38-0, 30 KOs) poses to him when/if the two of them meet each other in the near future.
Linares, 32, doesn’t rate Lomachenko as the same kind of puncher, and he feels that he’s not nearly as dangerous because of that. Linares does understand what he’s up against as the underdog in this fight. He wants to beat Lomancheko because a win over him will change his life, but he feels he’s not a really dangerous guy because he’s moving up to his third weight class and he’s a smaller fighter that wins his fights by tapping his opponents with rapid punches rather than hurting them with one big shot or an accumulation of heavy blows.
“Mikey Garcia is more dangerous to me,” Linares said to ESPN.com.
Even if Linares loses to Lomachenko, he’ll still likely wind up facing Mikey soon. There’s too much interest in a Linares vs. Garcia fight for the fight not to happen. Believe it or not, a fight pitting Mikey Garcia against Linares will still wind up as a bigger contest than Lomachenko-Linares. It doesn’t matter if Lomachenko beats Linares. The boxing public will still prefer to see Linares and Mikey mixing it up, because it’s a fight between two guys with exciting fighting styles. Lomachenko’s fights often tend to be dull chess-matches, or ones involving lots of show boating rather than the slugging the U.S boxing fans like to see from their fighters.
Lomachenko has stopped his last seven opponents he’s faced, but he’s done it in a different way than most fighters. Instead of hurting most of them, Lomachenko has been able to force them to quit by mentally defeating them with his ring movement, defense and rapid fire combinations that he hits them with repeatedly.
The following fighters have quit against Lomachenko:
• Guillermo Rigondeaux
• Miguel Marriaga
• Jason Sosa
• Nicholas Walters
The last opponent that Lomachenko stopped in the traditional manner is Roman Martinez in June 2016. Lomachenko stopped him with a body shot. That was one of Lomachenko’s better fighters, but he still did a lot of moving and he wasn’t stationary enough to make it a truly exciting fight. Lomachenko stopped being stationary after he was beaten by Orlando Salido in 2014, Lomachenko found out in that fight that he doesn’t do as well when he stays in one spot and pits his power against his opponent’s, because he’s not much of a puncher. Lomachenko’s game is built around changing the angles of his shots, moving around, eluding punches and throwing a lot of fast combinations. That works for Lomachenko and enables him to win fights without getting beaten up in the process.
“When I win this fight, everything in my life, everything in my career, will be different,” Linares said.
Indeed, a win over Lomachenko will definitely help Linares’ career, but it might not help as much as he thinks. When Orlando Salido beat Lomachenko in 2014, his victory was ignored by a lot of boxing fans, who claimed that he had weighed in 2 lbs. heavier than him at the scales by coming in at 128 lbs. instead of at the featherweight limit of 126. The fans then said that the only reason Salido won the fight was because he had rehydrated more than Lomachenko. It was a weak excuse, but a lot of fans bought into it and gave Salido no credit. I think we could hear the same type of excuses on Saturday night if Linares wins the fight. Instead of getting credit, his victory will be minimized by Lomachenko fans with them saying that Linares only won because he’s the naturally bigger fighter. Lomachenko isn’t moving up two weight classes like Guillermo Rigondeaux did.
The 30-year-old Lomachenko is only moving up one weight division, and he’s the younger fighter by two years. Whether Linares gets credit or not for the victory, he’s still going to have Lomachenko’s name on his resume in the win column. Linares will be able to move on to bigger and better things in a fight against WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia. Lomanchenko will need to go back to the drawing board and try and rebuild his career. You can bet that Top Rank, the promoters for Lomachenko, will be pushing extremely hard for a rematch with Linares, because they can ill afford to let him move on without having their guy try and avenge his loss right away.
It’s going to be difficult for Lomachenko to beat Linares, because he’s easily the most technical fighter that he’s ever fought in the pro ranks that wasn’t tiny in comparison to him and old. Lomachenko’s last fight was against 37-year-old Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-1, 11 KOs), who he stopped in the 6th round on December 9 last year at Madison Square Garden in New York. However, the fight wasn’t fair, because Rigondeaux had to move up 2 weight classes to fight Lomachenko without the benefit of a catch-weight. Lomachenko used his A-side power to reject Rigondeaux’s request for a catch-weight.
It was basically Lomachenko saying it’ going to be ‘my way or the highway’ and Rigondeaux wasn’t about to turn down the paydays, so he agreed to move up two weight divisions to take the fight. But inside the ring on the night, Lomachenko was so much bigger than Rigondeaux. The fight was an embarrassment because of the size difference. It was sad because there was no fairness about the fight. Some boxing fans believe Rigondeaux’s true age to be over 40, and not the 37 that he’s listed at. That makes Lomachenko’s victory even less special, because not only was he fighting a guy two weight classes above him, he was also fighting someone over 10 years younger than him.
If Lomachenko sticks around boxing into his 40s, he would know what it’s like if he were to move up suddenly two weight divisions to fight someone 10 years younger than him and much bigger. It wouldn’t be a fair fight. It wouldn’t be a fair fight at that stage. Fights like Lomanchenko vs. Rigondeaux shows you how far boxing needs to go still. The match-making is still unfair much of the time, because of the A-side fighters being able to use their pull to get all the advantages over their less popular opponents.
Linares is considered by many to be the best fighter in the lightweight division. That’s not a knock on Mikey Garcia. It’s just a fact. Linares is more skilled than Mikey, and he can do a lot more things inside the ring. Mikey is more of a big punching counter puncher with freakish power. Linares has the whole package. He’s the most skilled guy in the 135 lb. weight class. But as good as Linares is, he still doesn’t have a signature win on his resume. Up to this stage in Linares’ 16-year pro career, his best victories have come against this bunch:
• Rocky Juarez
• Kevin Mitchell
• Anthony Crolla
• Luke Campbell
• Mercito Gesta
Those are not great fighters. Linares has become in demand by the British promoter Eddie Hearn, who brought him over to the UK three times in the last three years, hoping his fighters could beat him. Each time, Linares beat them. Hearn still hasn’t learned his lesson. He brought his fighter Luke Campbell over to the U.S to face Linares last year, and once again, Hearn’s guy lost. Linares beat Campbell as well. Hearn didn’t like it and said his fighter should have won. Linares clearly beat Campbell without even fighting hard. Lomachenko gives Linares his first real name on his resume that can potentially take his career to the next level. Again, I have doubts whether Linares will be given credit if he beats Lomachenko, because some excuse will be made to make light of his win and it won’t be as big of a deal for him as it should be. That’s how it goes sometimes. It’s too bad Lomachenko isn’t a natural lightweight, because he has a ready-made excuse that he can pull out of his back pocket if he loses to Linares on Saturday. He can blame the loss on his weight, which I expect him to do.