Vasyl Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs) is looking to make more history. Lomachenko has captured world titles at featherweight and super featherweight. On Saturday night, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, he will attempt to capture his third divisional belt by dethroning WBA lightweight world champion Jorge Linares (44-3, 27 KOs).
“I want to put my name in the history of boxing, and this is one of the steps I have to take, to fight in different weight classes, different titles. That’s what will put my name in the history of boxing,” said Lomachenko.
“Linares is one of the best fighters in his weight class. I don’t think it’s going to be easy work. I already proved where I am, and I plan on being at the top of the sport for a very long time. I do not plan on slowing down,” he said.
Lomachenko has made his last four opponents quit inside the distance. But Linares is looking to go out on his shield – there will be no quitting in this contest. He intends to test Lomachenko’s well respected reputation in every single round.
“I am hungry to win and to continue with my reign as world champion. This is a high-level fight and a very important one for my career because I am going to prove that Lomachenko is not an invincible fighter. We will see what he is really made of when he faces me this Saturday. I believe in myself and I know that I will come out with the victory. I am here to win. I did not come here to quit,” Linares said.
Linares suffered back to back knockout losses in 2011-2012, to Antonio DeMarco and Sergio Thompson. Since then he’s gone a thirteen-win fight streak – with wins over fighters like Kevin Mitchell, Anthony Crolla (twice), Luke Campbell and Mercito Gesta.
He was helped to those victories by Cuban trainer Ismael Salas. But for this contest, Linares will not have Salas in his corner. Salas had a previously agreed upon assignment to train heavyweight David Haye in London.
A legend in his own right Oscar De La Hoya, whose Golden Boy Promotions represents Linares, is well aware that Lomachenko is one of the very best fighters around but believes that the Venezuelan’s bigger size and skill will be too much for him on the night.
“Jorge has established himself as the world’s best lightweight by taking on any and all comers over his storied career, but a win on Saturday night would put him on an entirely different level,” said De La Hoya.
“We fully understand that Lomachenko is universally seen as the best fighter on the planet, but he’s never faced anyone with the size and skill of Jorge, and I am confident that he will retain his WBA and Ring Magazine world championships,” he said.
Lomachenko and Linares, along with many of the undercard fighters, met the media one last time on Thursday.
The stacked undercard features welterweight contender Carlos ‘Caballo Bronco’ Adames (13-0, 11 KOs) in his Top Rank debut in a 10-round, ESPN-televised co-feature against Alejandro Barrera (27-4, 17 KOs); Irish sensation Michael Conlan (6-0, 5 KOs) will see action in an eight-round featherweight contest against Ibon Larrinaga (10-1, 2 KOs); Jamel Herring (16-2, 9 KOs) takes on the durable Juan Pablo Sanchez (29-15, 14 KOs) in an eight-round lightweight bout; top lightweight prospect Teofimo Lopez (8-0, 6 KOs) faces veteran Vitor Freitas (13-1, 7 KOs) of Salvador, Brazil, in a scheduled eight-rounder; female boxing sensation Mikaela Mayer (4-0, 3 KOs) will face Baby Nansen (6-2-1, 0 KOs) of Auckland, New Zealand, in a six-round lightweight fight; and 2016 Olympic gold medalist Fazliddin ‘Fayzi’ Gaibnazarov (3-0, 1 KO) returns in a scheduled eight-rounder against Jesus Silveyra (8-5-2, 3 KOs) of Monterrey, Mexico.
Linares vs. Lomachenko and Adames vs. Barrera will be televised live and exclusively at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, and undercard bouts will stream live on ESPN+, available on the ESPN App, beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET.