The crowd at Madison Square Garden saw an exciting fight that had ups and downs and some surprising moments, but Vasyl Lomachenko ended up getting the upper hand.
Lomachenko, who came up from super featherweight to fight the WBA champion at lightweight in Jorge Linares, scored a 10th round KO to win a world title in a third weight class. He improved his professional record to 11-1 and became the fastest person in the sport to win world titles in three weight classes. With the knockout, Linares falls to 44-4 and all of his losses have been by knockout.
It was an action-packed fight from the start, as Lomachenko wanted to set the pace after the first round. Linares looked to have taken that round, but then Lomachenko responded by increasing his punch output and moving around the ring to stop Linares’ momentum. By Round 4, it was looking like some of Lomachenko’s past few fights where he was overwhelming his opponents, but Linares was still right there in front of him and throwing back shots that made Lomachenko pause at times. In Round 6, those in the crowd and many watching around the world were shocked when Lomachenko got caught with a counter overhand right that put him down on the canvas for the first time in his professional career.
Lomachenko got up from that knockdown, and it seemed like Linares was gaining momentum in the fight within the next round. However, he was getting tagged a lot and it was showing. Puffiness in his eyes were evident in the late rounds, and Lomachenko was taking advantage of that with multiple jabs. While Linares was responding with timed punches and a few combinations in rounds 8 and 9, Lomachenko seemed to still be the fresher guy.
In Round 10, Lomachenko caught Linares with a combination and then a hard shot to the liver put Linares to the canvas. Referee Ricky Gonzalez stopped his count as he felt that Linares would not be able to continue, and the crowd at The Garden which had a lot of fans with a Ukranian background scream in jubilation. After the win, Vasyl showed how glad he was to accomplish his feat.
“I’m very happy, and I wanted to say thank you to the fans who came to Madison Square Garden,” stated Lomachenko in the post fight interview. “I want to say thank you to Jorge Linares…he is a great fighter. He gave me one more lesson in boxing.”
The knockdown that he suffered was brought up and he acknowledged that was a good shot. “It’s his best punch. I knew about his punch (the overhand right)…He’s good, he’s good.”
Lomachenko also gave recognition to his father and trainer Anatoly Lomachenko as he was a key factor for scoring that tenth round knockout.
“I prepared for the last three rounds (because of) exercise from my father, and he told me that I need to work on the body, so I did that.”
Linares, who did put up a great effort in this fight, felt that he had an idea of what Lomachenko was going to do in the ring and believed that he had the momentum going into the tenth round.
“He didn’t surprise me as I thought he was going to surprise me. The fight was getting interesting,” Linares said. “It was very close, but he did surprise me with that body shot. I wanted to continue. I wanted to keep working, but the ref stopped the fight.”
The stoppage was a key moment as the scorecards were even going into the tenth round. Steve Weisfeld had Lomachenko winning by two points, Robin Taylor had Linares winning by two points, and Julie Lederman had it even at 85-85.
As far as what’s next for Lomachenko after winning the WBA lightweight title, he doesn’t mind going at it with Jorge Linares once again.
“No problem, I’m ready for anything.”
Cover photo by Top Rank