With the win, former champion Linares to fight hotshot Ryan Garcia next. What are his chances?
By Allan Cerf
One of my favorite fighters in the last fifteen years or so, Jorge Linares, showed his still-considerable class by beating a pretty good fighter, Carlos Morales, Friday night by powerful KO.
It’s a certainty the drums will now beat ever-louder for Linares, 34, of Tokyo, by (the strange) way of Barinas, Venezuela, to take on yet another golden child, the precocious heartthrob Ryan Garcia, who needed seven rounds less than I speculated to dispatch Francisco Fonseca last night. Linares was a kind of guest of honor by appearing on Garcia’s undercard.
Linares took a few too many shots and once again, an unlucky head butt in round one, while Morales easily won the second. The classy Linares dropped Morales with a beautifully hidden inside right. In round four Linares landed another huge right that stopped Morales.
When I first saw Linares in 2007 as an undefeated prospect I told my companion (well, my Ex, to be honest, herself a huge boxing fan) “this guy is incredible. I’ve rarely seen such talent. He has it all.”
I was shocked when Linares was subsequently kayoed- but he rebounded. That seems to be his strange pattern. In winning titles against top fighters, Linares looks incredible, but somewhere down the line is stopped. His career rebounds and is ticking over nicely and he’s stopped again.
An exception would be when, after dropping Lomachenko, the Ukrainian proved his heart and class by stopping Linares on a body shop. A peak Linares is one of the top guys in the world – and Lomachenko is that small amount better.
I’m certainly looking forward to a Garcia - Linares fight – with the edge going to the younger fighter. Though my prediction was off by seven rounds, I did say that Garcia would stop Fonseca by keeping and hitting his opponent at the very end of his reach, which is what happened. Linares, who can fight at any distance, must not test his outside game early if he fights Ryan, since that would play into Garcia’s hard hands. Linares needs to land another inside right and other, close to mid-distance shots over 6-7 rounds before contesting a potentially deadly outside game with Garcia.
Linares showed his age somewhat against Morales - getting caught a few times. That can’t happen against Garcia in the early rounds.
To beat the youngster, Linares must gather all his veteran wits and above all, frustrate Ryan by making him miss – all night. Take him into deep decision water and drown him to prevail in 12.
Linares is an enigma. How many Venezuelans move to Japan, master the language and culture and remain there forever? How many boxers get knocked out more than three times and bounce back almost better than ever?
Garcia is no Lomachenko but I think in 2020 his youth is just enough to defeat Linares. And I’m virtually certain that’s where De La Hoya – the other Golden Boy, will take him.