Lomachenko stops Linares for historic third world title
Vargas battles through cuts to keep WBC crown
NEW YORK, May 13, (AFP): Vasyl Lomachenko stopped Jorge Linares in the 10th round on Saturday to claim the World Boxing Association lightweight world title and a slice of boxing history at Madison Square Garden.
Ukraine’s Lomachenko survived a sixth-round knock-down to set a record in claiming a world title in a third weight division in just his 12th professional fight.
Lomachenko finished off the tightly contested bout with a fierce burst in the 10th, capped by a vicious left to the body that sent Linares down.
“I prepared for the last few rounds, and my father told me, ‘You need to go to the body,’” Lomachenko said.
Venezuela’s Linares slowly got to his feet, but referee Ricky Gonzalez waved it off at 2:08 of the 10th to give Lomachenko a victory by technical knockout that ended Linares’ 13-fight winning streak.
Linares said he thought he could have continued and would be eager for a rematch.
At the time of the stoppage, Lomachenko was up by two points on one judge’s card, Linares was up by two on another and one judge had it tied.
The bout, before a crowd of 10,429 in Madison Square Garden’s main arena, was a far cry from Lomachenko’s last four fights in which all of his opponents quit on their stools.
“I want to say thank you to Jorge Linares, he’s a great fighter and he gave me one more lesson in boxing,” said Lomachenko, who was sent to the canvas by a straight right to the nose late in the sixth round.
“I knew about this punch,” southpaw Lomachenko said. “But he’s good.”
Lomachenko quickly pulled himself together, his hand and foot speed making the difference against his bigger opponent.
“Going into this fight, we knew Loma was a huge talent,” said Lomachenko’s promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank. “After this fight, we know now that he’s a fighter.”
Vasiliy Lomachenko (left), of Ukraine, fights Jorge Linares, of Venezuela, during their WBA lightweight championship boxing match on May 12,
in New York. (AP)
By the eighth round he’d opened a cut over Linares’ left eye, and he was remorseless in targeting the vulnerable spot.
Lomachenko, whose storied amateur career included two Olympic gold medals, improved to 11-1 with nine knockouts.
Linares fell to 44-4 with 27 wins inside the distance.
Lomachenko, 30, added the WBA lightweight belt to a resume that includes a victory over Gary Russell Jr for a featherweight world title in just his third pro bout.
In his seventh fight, Lomachenko moved up to super featherweight and knocked out Roman Martinez to take his belt and set the record for fewest fights needed to win a world title in two weight classes.
Among other fighters to win world titles in three divisions, Australian Jeff Fenech did so in his 20th bout while greats such as Oscar de la Hoya (22 fights), Floyd Mayweather (34) and Manny Pacquiao (41) needed even longer to achieve the feat.
Meanwhile, Mexico’s Rey Vargas retained his World Boxing Council title with a unanimous decision over Azat Hovhannisyan in a bloody showdown between a pair of super bantamweight fighters on Saturday night.
Vargas made his third straight successful defense of the title despite finishing the 12-round fight with blood streaming down both sides of his face, the result of headbutts in the eighth and 12th rounds.
Vargas, who is now a perfect 32-0 in his career, won on all three judges’ scorecards including one who had it 118-110. The other two scored it 11711 and 116-112.
He fought the final four rounds with blood flowing freely but the cuts above his eyes did not seem to affect his vision that much.
After piling up points in the early rounds, he hurt Armenia’s Hovhannisyan with a right hook in the ninth round at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York.
Vargas was coming off a twelveround unanimous decision over undefeated Oscar Negrete in December.
Hovhannisyan, who is trained by the legendary cornerman Freddie Roach, dropped to a record of 14-3.
He was fighting for his first world title and the loss ended his eight-fight win streak.