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Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Jorge Linares Fight Pick

Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Jorge Linares Fight Preview and Prediction to Win
When: Saturday, May 12, 2018
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
TV: ESPN
Weight Class: Lightweight
Titles: WBA Lightweight Title
By Loot, Boxing Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Vasyl Lomachenko, 10-1 (7 KOs), Ukraine
Vs.
Jorge Linares, 44-3 (27 KOs), Venezuela, Tokyo, Japan

Betting Odds: Vasyl Lomachenko (-800), Jorge Linares (+500)

On May 12 at Madison Square Garden, Jorge Linares defends his WBA Lightweight Championship against one of the sport's rising superstars in Vasyl Lomachenko. In just his 12th pro fight, Lomachenko is going for a title in his third weight class. To do so, he'll have to beat an experienced and capable champion in Linares. The two-time gold medal Olympic champion Lomachenko has been on quite a roll lately, exhibiting skills seldom seen in a boxing ring. Can he move up and unseat a good champion in Linares? Or will the veteran titleholder spring a surprise?

Linares himself has won titles in three weight classes. In January, he notched another defense with a decision over tough Mercito Gesta. He has been on a nice roll as of late. Linares has been a lightweight titleholder since 2014 and is on a run of 13 straight wins. A Venezuelan who is based out of Japan and has fought all over the world, Linares has been able to fulfill some of the promise he had when he turned pro back in 2002. He won some big fights, but three KO defeats had his career on the ropes in 2012. But he smoothed out some issues and started racking up the wins. In England, where the scene is now booming, he beat Kevin Mitchell, Anthony Crolla twice, and Luke Campbell. And since Terence Crawford moved up in weight, he is the clear top dog at 135 pounds.

I think it's time to view Linares with a different lens. He's 32 now and his last loss was over 6 years ago. It was always easy to look at Linares as a talented, but flawed and brittle fighter who wasn't destined to reach the absolute top. But after such a long run of success and a nice run as lightweight champion, we should upgrade his standing. He has won big fights in America, Europe, and Asia. Linares also brings a lot of things to the table that Lomachenko's previous opponents did not. He is an accomplished champion with a lot of experience, capable of winning in hostile territory.

Linares also has a ton of talent. He's a prodigious athlete and capable of explosiveness inside the ring. A nice set of educated legs allow him to navigate around the ring with ease, as he seldom presents a stationary target. Over the years, he has learned to camouflage his weaknesses. Stamina and a dicey chin seemed to be the culprits of his three defeats. He is more responsible defensively now and has thrived in numerous 12-round contests. With his movement, sudden outburst of punches, size, and know-how, he could on paper be Lomachenko's toughest task to date.

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Lomachenko, 30, was put on the fast-track following his winning of a second gold medal in the Olympics. Amazingly, in just his 2nd pro fight, the fighter known as "Hi Tech" was matched with hardcore vet Orlando Salido, dropping a close decision to a guy in Salido who pushed the envelope as far as the rule-book is concerned. Since then, no one has been able to touch him and some are saying Lomachenko is the best fighter in the world, if not the most-accomplished. His last four opponents, the talented quartet of Nicholas Walters, Jason Sosa, Manuel Marriaga, and Guillermo Rigondeaux, were so flummoxed, they all quit on their stools. Guys just start to realize they can't get anything going edgewise against him and roll out the white flag.

Granted, Rigondeaux was smaller than Lomachenko, but to watch the Ukrainian star befuddle an undefeated former gold medal winner so easily and force yet another corner-retirement was indeed very impressive, with the Cuban star deciding he had seen enough after 6 rounds. There are still some holdouts. Some say he has been matched advantageously, which is part of the reason he has been allowed to shine. Others point to the loss to Salido as evidence that he may not be as preeminent as some claim. But in his last handful of fights, it's hard to watch him and emerge with a conclusion other than he is a very special fighter.

Lomachenko operates with innate skills. Seldom has a more-natural boxer graced the ring. His combination of skills and experience make him a rare breed of fighter. And competing for as long as he did at the top levels in the amateurs, he has more experience than his 11 pro fights would indicate. He doesn't waste a move. If he needs to move his head 3 inches to slip a punch, he moves it three inches. His legs are from another planet. He's a real thoroughbred. Lomachenko moves with ease around the ring. As far as positioning goes, he moves his feet to find the ideal spot. Instinctively, he moves to where his opponent can do the least amount of damage. The former Olympic hero's ring IQ is off the charts.

Lomachenko is moving up to 135, which would make some wonder if he can carry his power up to the lightweight class. His punches are very solid. He can change gears, rattling off rapid-fire combos, while also able to zero in with a hard shot. Lomachenko has been fighting pretty good fighters, like the unbeaten Walters and Rigondeaux and the separation he was able to create from those fighters was eye-opening. Again, when four straight fighters in a row quit on their stools, it's likely not a coincidence. Lomachenko isn't just winning; he's snatching guys' souls.

If looking for daylight for Linares, there are a few beams of sun sneaking into the picture. He is an angular fighter and though listed at just an inch taller than "Loma" at 5'8," he seemed taller than Lomachenko at the press conference. With Lomachenko's best recent wins over Walters and Rigondeaux, he's been succeeding against smaller guys. Linares also offers more dimensions on both offense and defense. He has good movement and is able to score with eye-catching punches.

Be that as it may, it will take a lot of courage to go against Lomachenko now with the form he is showing as of late. That's not to say he won't eventually be beaten at some point, but it's going to take a fighter who represents the total package. Linares is unquestionably a fine champion and an underrated fighter in many respects. Against Lomachenko, however, he just might be out of his element. And if Linares were able to execute the improbable, one would like better than +500 in return. I'm taking Lomachenko

Loot's Pick to Win the Fight: I'm betting on Vasyl Lomachenko at -800. Bet this fight for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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