Jorge Linares Ready for the Big Stage

Five years ago, Jorge Linares hit a crossroads.

The Venezuelan boxer was stopped in two consecutive bouts, seriously derailing his championship aspirations. It takes a rare fighter to bounce back from that type of setback, but that’s just what Linares did. Since his last defeat he has won eleven straight fights and become a lightweight champion. Two fights ago he entered the ring as an underdog against British champion Anthony Crolla, and he stunned the Manchester crowd with an upset victory.

In March of this year, he rematched Crolla, and unlike the first fight, the contest was not close. Linares dominated Crolla for twelve rounds, shutting his opponent out and nearly finishing him several times.

On Saturday night, Linares faces another British challenger, Luke Campbell. Though his last title defense against a British boxer went perfectly, Linares expects Campbell to present different challenges. He knows that he will have to be at his sharpest if he wants to keep his title.

“I haven’t fought anyone that is a southpaw in quite a while,” he told FIGHT SPORTS, speaking through a translator. “I’m excited to face Luke Campbell. He’s young, he’s hungry, he has that determination inside of the ring. I’m excited to see how things come out on Saturday.”

Campbell, an Olympic gold medalist, certainly represents a stiff test for Linares. But many in boxing world are already looking towards the future when it comes to the lightweight division, specifically foreseeing two big-name matchups for Linares down the road: Mikey Garcia and Vasyl Lomachenko.

Garcia, the WBC lightweight champion, has called out Linares already this year before taking a detour at 140 lbs. against Adrien Broner.

While Linares was not overly impressed with Garcia’s win over a fading Broner, he says that he is also interested in taking on Garcia in the near future. If that means he too will have to move up to 140 lbs., he is willing to take that leap.

“Broner’s lost his spirit, he’s lost his fight” Linares said. “I was not surprised that Mikey won that fight. But a fight with Mikey would be very interesting. I wouldn’t mind going up to 140 to fight him, but it’s up to the promoters at the end of the day.”

While Garcia would be the type of opponent to elevate Linares’s pound-for-pound ranking, a fight against junior-lightweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko is even more appealing. Lomachenko is ranked among the best in the sport, with many boxing analysts considering him the best active fighter in boxing.

With the Ukrainian champion planning to move up to lightweight soon, Linares is ready to be the one to welcome him to the division.

“Lomachenko is one of the top fighters for his size, his speed, his power…but just as he has his advantages, he has his disadvantages,” Linares said. “At this moment I feel that I have the ability to take on any other fighter, and I feel like I’m truly at my best right now.”

Before any of those dream matchups come to fruition, however, Linares knows he has to take care of business on Saturday night. With the Anthony Crolla chapter of his title reign over, the Venezuelan champion will look to make Campbell the next name on his impressive resume of victories. Whether a fight with Garcia or Lomachenko is around the corner, Linares is ready to prove that he’s more than just a champion, but also one of the best fighters in the world.

Jorge Linares defends his WBA lightweight title against Luke Campbell on September 23 at the Forum in Inglewood, CA.

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