Linares, who hails from Venezuela but lived and trained in Japan for many years, suffered a cut above the right eye midway through the fight, but he kept his gameplan intact throughout. Arakawa rarely took a step back – if at all – and he continuously threw hard punches from beginning to end, but Linares’ defense and slick counters kept him at bay. Whether it was a shot to the body followed by two to the head (or vice versa), Linares was landing the more telling blows when they mattered most.
Arakawa (24-4-1, 16 KOs) also was lacerated in the contest and his right eye closed almost shut by the eighth, but his determination kept him in his foe’s face until the bitter end. When it was all said and done, Linares (36-3, 23 KOs) was a step ahead of his opponent and his brilliant combos were the difference in a fight that was filled with rounds that could have broken in the Japanese fighter’s favor had he been more accurate.
“I knew that Arakawa could take a punch going into the fight,” Linares said. “I hurt my right hand in the fourth round and that’s why I relied so heavily on my left. I want to fight for the title as soon as [WBC Lightweight World Champion] Omar Figueroa Jr. is ready.”
Arakawa, who has quickly made a name for himself to boxing fans in the U.S. with his aggressive and relentless approach to fighting, knew he didn’t do enough to earn the victory in just his second fight stateside.
“I’m okay, but I’m disappointed I didn’t win,” Arakawa said. “I knew I wasn’t winning, but I tried to fight as best I could. I couldn’t make it happen. Linares is very good and very strong.”
In a spectacular opening bout of the pay-per-view telecast, late replacement Sergio “Yeyo” Thompson recorded an impressive unanimous decision victory over Ricardo “Dinamita” Alvarez (97-91, 95-93 twice) after taking the bout on less than one week’s notice.
The all-action match featured little defense as the Mexican brawlers exchanged power shots for 10 rounds.
“In the first round I knew I hurt him and I knew I had sufficient power at 135 pounds,” Thompson said. “I’m very excited about this because I was training for another fight and I took this fight on one week’s notice and I was able to counter him effectively.”