Jorge Linares moving back down to 135
By Dan Ambrose: Jorge Linares plans on back down to the lightweight [135 pounds] division following his first round knockout loss to journeyman Pablo Cesar Cano (32-7-1, 22 KOs) last Friday night on DAZN at Madison Square Garden in New York. Former three division world champion Linares (45-5, 28 KOs) was making his second fight at 140, and he didn’t have the size or the chin to withstand the powerful right hands that the 29-year-old Canelo was nailing him with.
Before Linares’ loss to Cano, there was talk of him challenging WBC light welterweight champion Jose Ramirez and WBO champion Maurice Hooker. Linares’ wipe-out loss to Cano makes those fights pointless. Cano would likely lose badly to both of those guys, no matter how big he is.
Linares said that Cano weighed 159 lbs to his 151 lbs. That’s a lot of weight for a fighter to rehydrate. With that kind of size, Cano should be fighting at welterweight.
Linares said after the fight with Cano that he would think about whether he should move back down to 135 [lightweight] or stay at light welterweight. Linares and his team decided he would be better off going back down. It makes sense, because he he doesn’t have the size to be mixing it up with top light welterweights like Regis Prograis, Jose Ramirez, Kiryl Relikh, Maurice Hooker, Ivan Baranchyk and Josh Taylor. Despite being Linares with ease, Cano is not a top 140 lb fighter, and he’s not going to be a top fighter in that division no matter what ranking he’s given by one of the sanctioning bodies after his win last Friday.
“Five pounds is such a difference,” Linares complained afterwards, trying to figure out why he had lost to Cano.
It wasn’t just five pounds. Cano looked like a welterweight inside the ring, not a light welterweight. Linares was facing a guy that was ever bit as big as some of the top welterweights, and he wasn’t going to beat him by slugging it out the way he was trying to do. After all, Cano have given boxing great Erik Morales and Shane Mosley headaches in the past. Many years ago, Cano was considered a talented prospect with a great future ahead of him.
Cano’s career failed to take off, however, after he was put in with Erik Morales early on in his fifth year as a pro in 2011. Cano was only 21-years-old, and he didn’t belong inside the ring with an experienced fighter like Morales, even though Erik old and on the downside of his career, fighting in a division [light welterweight] well above his best weight class of super bantamweight.
Cano’s size was too much for Linares, who was dropped three times in the first round before referee Ricky Gonzalez stopped the fight at the 2:48 mark. Cano had just staggered Linares at the time that the referee stopped the fight. Linares staggered back to the ropes, and was virtually defenseless when referee Ricky Gonzalez stopped it. Had he let the fight go on a few seconds more, Linares would have been planted for a fourth and likely final knockdown.
This fight was supposed to have been an easy fight for the 33-year-old Linares, as he’s done so much more with his career compared to Cano. There was no comparison going into the fight last Friday. Cano was a journeyman, who had failed many times in the past in losses to Paulie Malignaggi, Erik Morales, Shane Mosley, Marcelino Nicolas Lopez, Alan Sanchez, Fernando Angulo and Fidel Maldonado Jr. Even some of Cano’s wins were close decision victories over the likes of Ashley Theophane, Oscar Leon, Mauricio Herrera and Fabian Marimon. Linares shouldn’t have lost to a fighter of Cano’s class, but he did. The reason Linares lost to Cano wasn’t just because of his size and power advantage. Linares lost to him because he made the mistake of trying to punch with a puncher, and that’s not his normal style of fighting. Linares usually boxes his opponents. But for some reason, he thought he could go toe-to-toe with a bigger, younger and stronger fighter in Cano. The end result was a reflexion of bad decision making on Linares’ part.
“I have fallen on several occasions, accepting my defeats or mistakes but I have also risen with much more strength to continue to win!” Linares said on his Instagram. “When you think you can have it all is where you get wrong and fall back for X reason but the important thing is to continue correcting to mature in many things and be prepared for new triumphs that God has for us in this beautiful Life! With sacrifice, dedication and discipline I will be a Great Champion again!”
It’s possible for Linares to win another world title in the future, but it’s not going to be easy. Top Rank Boxing is angling their fighter Vasyl Lomachenko to go after all the titles in the lightweight division. If they accomplish that task before Linares is able to win another world title from another champion, then he’s probably not going to be able to win another belt in the lightweight division. If Lomachenko retires or moves up in weight, then there’s a chance for Linares to win a belt. However, Lomachenko, 30, is younger than the 33-year-Linares, and he’s likely going to continue to fight at lightweight for the remainder of his career. Lomachenko isn’t big enough to move up to 140 to go after the lions in that wight class without taking a lot of punishment like he did in his recent win over Jose Pedraza.
“I spoke with [Jorge] privately…in the locker room, and he said: ‘This is not my weight category, I can not fight against a guy who has 159 pounds and I have 151. ‘We tried, we could not do it, we went ahead.'” Linares’ manager Jose De La Cruz said to ESPN.com.
Linares is targeting a rematch at lightweight with Luke Campbell, who he beat by a 12 round split decision in September 2017. Linares is also interested in facing former WBA lightweight champion Anthony Crolla, a fighter that he’s twice beaten during his career. Crolla is heading for a title shot against WBA/WBO lightweight champion Lomachenko. Crolla will likely lose to Lomachenko. Linares might need to try and get a rematch with Lomachenko, since he’s on a course to win all the titles at lightweight. If Mikey Garcia moves back down in weight to defend his WBA lightweight title, then he would be a good option for Linares as well. Those two were supposed to fight each other in 2018, but Mikey chose to move up in weight to 140 to challenge IBF light welterweight champion Sergey Lipinets for his title.