Vasyl Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) added a third title in as many divisions to his collection last night with a reminder to all of his supreme talent, but in so doing had to endure his toughest test to date against Jorge Linares (44-4, 27 KO’s) as the now former world champion succumbed to the persistence in the tenth at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The fight was contested for Linares’ WBA lightweight title with a back and forth roller coaster that’s kept fight fans on the edge of their seats, it was premium watching as two of the sports best gave everything they had in an absorbing contest that had something for everyone.
Until the contest’s end, the fight was even on the judge’s scorecards, one having Lomachenko up 86-84, the other in favour of Linares by the same tally while the third had it even at 85-85.
Linares started well, scoring with shots in the first and second but Lomachenko soon found his rhythm as he rattled off clean uppercuts, going to the head and body of Linares, like an artist putting touches to a work of art.
By the middle rounds, Linares’ face started showing the effects of the engaging nature of the fight, his nose bloodied, he looked frustrated by the cat and mouse tactic of Lomachenko who darted in and out, scoring with clean shots for the majority of the time.
Linares had to find something to stem the pressure which came courtesy of his famed right hand that fired straight down the pipe, leaving Lomachenko on the canvas much to the amazement of the onlooking public, for the first time, Lomachenko was proven human taking a count before Linares had a chance to finish as the round came to a close.
Linares now had some impetus, landing a hard body shot in the seventh with Lomachenko seemingly slowing down his assault enough to give Linares hope in his attempt at a successful defense of his title.
It was a peep through the curtain for Linares, quickly closed in the ensuing rounds as Lomachenko rattled off his combinations to bust up the face of the Venezuelan before a solid body shot in the tenth sealed his fate, Linares rose with the look of a beaten man as the fight was halted at the 2:08 mark.