The most significant fight at Madison Square Garden in over 40 years delivered as promised for the sport of boxing as Vasyl Lomachenko defeated Jorge Linares in a lightweight title bout.
Lomachenko, also known in boxing circles as Hi-Tech, stole the show by earning a stoppage victory to become the new WBA lightweight champion. This was not only Linares’ fourth title defence at 135 lbs but also Lomachenko’s debut in this division, a weight class in which he first started out as an ammeter.
The Ukrainian, who entered the contest as the bookmakers’ favourite to win the fight, continued his enigmatic win streak by taking out Linares by delivering a world class liver shot in round 10. Linares struggled to get to his feet, but it wasn’t even to meet the 10-count.
Round one saw Lomachenko ease into the fight with a composed stance, offloading measured labs as a much lower pace than in previous fights. Linares’ defended well, countering with single punches on the back foot.
The tempo accelerated in round two with both fights testing out combinations and Linares attempting to dominate the centre of the ring. Lomachenko’s corner expressed concerns over low blows and rabbit punches to the back of the head, yet their prize athlete continued to advance without trepidation. Hi-Tech ended the round with a number of clean shots to put him two rounds up.
A quarter of the way into the bout and Lomachenko had commandeered the ring. He relentlessly hunted for opening is Linares’ guard, the output off this clearly visible on the champion’s face with sever swelling and bruising to the cheeks. But then it happened…
Linares landed a right hand that took the challenger completely by surprise. Lomachenko hit the deck for the first time in his professional boxing career and immediately bounced up to regain composure, seconds before the round came to and end. Rounds six and seven went to Linares, levelling the fight.
By round eight the physical damage on Linare’ face had erupted as a cut over the left eye that became Lomachenko’s target. The Ukranian peppered away with power jabs to the head with lightening speed and pinpoint accuracy.
Lomachenko’s left hand finished the fight in round ten. His craft left hook to the body cemented his victory, which makes him the fastest boxer to become a three-weight champion – 12 fights less than Linares’ manager, Oscar De la Hoya.
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