Former three-division world champion Jorge Linares has been open about wanting another title shot after he lost his lightweight belts in May to Vasyl Lomachenko, the top-ranked pound-for-pound boxer on the planet.
Despite the loss, Linares knocked Lomachenko down in the bout, and most assumed any future Linares title shot would come in a rematch with the lightweight champion.
But after Linares dominated Abner Cotto Saturday in Indio, it now appears more likely that another title shot may instead come in the 140-pound junior welterweight division.
Fighting for the first time in that division, and the first time since his loss to Lomachecnko, in the main event of Golden Boy Promotion’s Fight Night on Facebook Watch, Linares knocked Cotto down twice in less than three rounds — first with a straight right hand that landed squarely on Cotto’s left cheek, and then with another right hand that sent Cotto to tumbling to the canvas.
Though Cotto, the cousin of former world champion Miguel Cotto, who was in attendance, isn’t quite a championship-caliber opponent, the win was so succinct that it was clear message that Linares, 33, isn’t done and could indeed be ready for another big fight.
“I’m ready. I’m ready for a big fight,” Linares said in the ring after the fight. “I’m ready to fight the best at 140.”
Linares, a Venezuelan who lives and trains in Las Vegas, is so committed to staying in his new division that he told ringside media after the bout that he’d only consider returning to the 135-pound division if that’s what it required to get another shot at Lomachenko. When pressed further, he said he’d also fight unbeaten lightweight champion Mikey Garcia, or any other world champion, at 135.
Garcia’s brother and trainer, Robert Garcia, was present at the fight and overheard Linares from his ringside seat.
“I feel good and ready to fight the best at 140 pounds,” Linares said. “I’ve been hearing Mikey Garcia’s name and he’s been hearing my name. Maybe we can have that fight next year. I came in very well prepared to fight the best in the division.”
Linares said he’d most likely take another opponent in December or the first part of 2019 and see how Lomachenko’s Dec. 8 bout with Jose Pedraza turns out.
Jonathan Coachman called Saturday’s fight card with featherweight JoJo Diaz, and Diaz was noticeably impressed with Linares as a welterweight.
“You can tell that the power is still there at 142,” Diaz said.
That much was evident as Linares finished Cotto off in the third round. He hit Cotto with a rook to the midsection that Cotto believed was a low blow, so Cotto mistakenly stopped to look at the referee and let his guard down. Linares pounced with a massive combination that forced Cotto into a corner of the ring.
The two became tangled and both fell to the canvas before the fight was stopped. The result ended a five-bout win streak for Cotto, which included four knockouts.
Source: Andrew L. John