On Saturday, May 12th, reigning WBO junior lightweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs) moves up to the 135-pound division for a major showdown with WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares (44-3, 27 KOs), in what is arguably on paper the best boxing match of 2018. The card will be held at Madison Square Garden in New York, an upgrade from Lomachenko’s last bout, which was held at the MSG Theater.
Ukraine’s Lomachenko is regarded as the best pound-for-pound boxer on the planet. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and decorated amateur became a world champion in just his third professional fight, and he’s made his last four opponents either quit or have their cornermen stop it. Against fellow two-time gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux, Lomachenko didn’t exactly beat up the Cuban, but he outboxed him and Rigondeaux bowed out at the end of round 6 due to an injured hand. Lomachenko is lauded for his technical skill, masterful footwork, volume, and timing on his punches. He’s not known to be a powerful puncher, but he’s capable of knocking guys out.
Linares is an outstanding fighter who has struggled to gain any sort of traction in the United States. In fact, most of his early fights were in his adopted home of Japan — his main promoter is the highly regarded Akihiko Honda — and is arguably more of a name in the United Kingdom, where he’s twice beaten Anthony Crolla, as well as Kevin Mitchell. One of his more recent US bouts was a split decision over the UK’s Luke Campbell. The Venezuelan is on a 13-fight winning streak and coming off a unanimous decision over Mercito Gesta, who was never really much of a credible threat. Much like Lomachenko, Linares’ style is highly technical without being overly powerful, but he does have historical problems with facial cuts.
Despite his success, Linares has been unable to secure a really big fight until now, and the unlikely co-promoting between Top Rank and Golden Boy Boxing has led to this showdown coming to fruition. We’ll also see how much more of a draw Lomachenko can be, as this is the first time he’s headlined a show in a major arena.
The best part? It’s not on HBO. It’s not on Showtime. It’s not on PPV. It’s live on ESPN. Even better? An early start time of 8 PM ET/5 PM PT, so the main event should be over by 10 PM ET, which is before the UFC 224 main card begins.
Bloody Elbow will have full fight week coverage, including previews, predictions, odds, play-by-play, results, analysis, post-fight highlights, and more.
Jorge Linares vs. Vasyl Lomachenko – 12 rounds, lightweights
Carlos Adames vs. Alejandro Barrera – 10 rounds, welterweights off a little bit of a layoff, and I want to make sure that I’m ready for that too. Jumping from a three round fight to a five round fight, the training’s different, and I want to make sure that I’m ready to make a step up. My performance Saturday will be a big indicator of that for me.”Tune in to Bellator 199 on May 12, 2018 to see if Jon Fitch can knock off Paul Daley and take that next step toward facing Rory MacDonald.Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Bader vs. King Mo” resides here at MMAmania.com all week long.To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.