By John J. Raspanti
Vasyl Lomachenko picked up his third world title in three different weight classes by stopping defending WBA champion Jorge Linares in round 10 at the legendary Madison Square Garden in New York City Saturday night.
In rounds one and two, Linares used his left, while Lomachenko, a southpaw, looked to counter. Speed was of the essence. Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOS) probed and moved and went to the body. Linares, with an advantage in reach, kept popping his jab.
Lomachenko moved in and out while Linares tried to time him. He landed a sharp combination to the head and body. Linares fought back with a few right hands, but Lomachenko outworked him.
Rounds three and four were intense and competitive. Linares landed a hook to the ribs. Lomachenko bounced and fired a straight left down the pipe. It landed.
Linares (44-4, 27 KOs) landed an uppercut while Lomachenko slipped and shot punches that Linares couldn’t see. Lomachenko continued to play, now you see me, now you don’t. He landed another combination.
Lomachenko was picking up the pace. The talented Linares kept firing his right. A big one connected, but Lomachenko rolled with it and tattooed Linares.
Lomachenko,30, got a little bolder in rounds five and six. He’d pay for it later. His use of angles was confusing Linares, but the defending champion battled back. Lomachenko appeared to stun him with two solid lefts at the bell.
Linares,32, connected with a right, but Lomachenko stepped back with a left- while Linares lets his hands go in close. A big right hand floored Lomachenko for the first time in his professional career. Lomachenko got up quickly and stayed away until the bell rang ending the stanza.
Linares fired a lead left hook in round seven.
Lomachenko was a little more cautious, bobbing and weaving, trying to regain control of the fight. He fired his jab, while Linares, feeling more confidence, whipped hooks. Lomachenko went to the body at the bell.
In round eight, Lomachenko flashed combinations while Linares fought back. Blood was dripping from a cut over the left eye of Linares. He connected with another right hand. Lomachenko doubled up his jab to win the round.
In round nine, Lomachenko used his quicker feet to score points and try and stay out of danger. He jabbed and moved to his left and right.
Linares landed a wicked a combination that knocked Lomachenko off balance. He appeared to win the round with volume. Linares kept up the pressure in round 10, but Lomachenko jolted him with blows to the head. Linares motioned to bring it on.
A blazing combination to the head, punctuated by a left hook to the liver sent Linares to the canvas. The three-time champion pulled himself up at nine. He bent at the waist, which prompted referee Ricky Gonzalez to wave off the contest.
The time was 2:08 of round 10.
“I’m happy, I’m very happy,” said Lomachenko who captured a third world title in three weight division faster than anyone else in boxing history. “I want to say thank you to Jorge Linares, he’s a great fighter. He’s good. I thought about the last few rounds. He told me to work on the body.”
“He didn’t really surprise me with his speed,” said Linares. “He landed a bodyshot, it was perfect.”