Getting it right: Jorge Linares vs. Vasyl Lomachenko set for May 12
Just a few weeks ago, the initial discussion of the fight tempered down to near silence, after a resolution couldn’t be found over the most menial of issues. However just as boxing’s latest blunder was a near afterthought, it was announced that Jorge Linares vs. Vasyl Lomachenko was signed, sealed and delivered for the date, venue and network discussed from the jump.
On May 12, at the Madison Square Garden, in New York City, Linares-Lomachenko will be televised live on ESPN (8:00 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) and, in the official press release announcing the fight on Wednesday morning, it was mentioned that tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday, March 23 (11:00 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT), and are priced at $506, $406, $306, $206, $106 and $56. They can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster charge by phone (866-858-0008) and online at ticketmaster.com and MSG.com. The ticket pre-sale begins today (March 22) at 12:00 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT up until the official box office opens. The password: “social.”
“This fight marks a significant step forward for one of the greatest fighters we’ve seen, Vasily Lomachenko, as he goes up in weight once again to fight the best lightweight in the world, Jorge Linares,” said Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum, founder and CEO of Top Rank, who handles Lomachenko. “I want to thank everyone involved for making this happen, particularly Peter Nelson of HBO and the Golden Boy (Promotions) team, whose cooperation made this fight possible. This demonstrates that promoters and networks, when they work together for the good of everyone, can accomplish so very much.”
Arum speaking Nelson’s name in a positive light is rare occasion nowadays, especially since the young executive took over as the decision maker for HBO Boxing, and Top Rank’s subsequent exit from the network soon after, about a year-and-a-half ago. With Linares-Lomachenko happening one week after the rematch between Canelo Alvarez and unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (May 5, HBO Pay-Per-View), the biggest hold-up of making this fight was the counter-programming of the Canelo-“GGG” 2 replay on regular HBO. Having Linares-Lomachenko start at an early time seemed like an easy fix but a softball game already scheduled on ESPN was making that harder than it seemed. It was an inconvenient blockade for the promoters and a trivial problem for boxing fans, who were, in all likelihood, ready to let another big fight slip out of their hands over reasons only this sport can produce. Remarkably a resolution was found and with all that now a thing of the past, boxing fans will now have another tremendous match-up to look forward to in May.
“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 May 12 would put him on an entirely different level,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, who promotes Linares, along with the Japanese-based Teiken Promotions. “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 (Linares) will retain his WBA and RING Magazine world championships. As this fight makes clear, I’m 100 percent committed to giving fans the fights they want to see and will work with anyone to accomplish that goal.”
Linares-Lomachenko marks the first time Top Rank and Golden Boy will work together on a big promotion since the two companies struck television deals with ESPN. While Golden Boy still works with HBO, Top Rank is exclusive to ESPN and will be the lead promoter for this event. As for the fighters themselves, both Linares and Lomachenko will meet at an apt time, when really very few opponents other than themselves would supercede this match-up.
“This is the fight that boxing fans wanted. This will be a super-fight between two of the best champions,” Linares said in the press release. “Not only will I demonstrate why I’m the best lightweight in the world but also that I’m one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. I have the speed, skill and power to win this battle. This May 12, Lomachenko will bow down to ‘King’ Jorge.”
Linares, 44-3 (27), is coming off an uneventful unanimous decision over fringe contender Mercito Gesta last January and much of the discussion leading up to that fight was whom the Venezuelan would fight next. With a stylistic boxing pedigree in which he as shown throughout his career, since turning pro as a teenager, Linares, 32, hasn’t lost since 2012 and, in his fourth attempt at defending the WBA lightweight title, Lomachenko is certainly the most captivating opponent, since winning the title from Anthony Crolla in September 2016.
“We are very excited about the fight. It should be a great one. Fans from around the world have been waiting for Jorge and me to fight,” said Lomachenko. “We appreciate the work Top Rank did to put this fight together and thanks to the television networks that helped make it happen. I am looking forward to May 12 in New York to make my debut in the big arena at Madison Square Garden.”
Lomachenko, 10-1 (8), is riding a remarkable streak of four straight fights in which he forced opponents to either quit on their stools or force their corners to throw in the towel. After his most recent outing last December, Lomachenko dubbed himself “No-Mas-Chenko” on ESPN, after embarrassing Guillermo Rigondeaux into tapping out just six rounds into their highly anticipated match-up, in which, for the first time ever, two-time Olympic gold medalists fought each other in the professional ranks. As impressive and dominant as Lomachenko has been, however, two of those last four surrendering opponents were moving up to 130 pounds to contend for his WBO title and, in an effort to seek a challenge himself, the Ukrainian phenom is the one now moving up in weight.
Aside from Linares-Lomachenko being a match-up to look forward to, and it being an even fight, seemingly, the bigger picture of it all is that this can all come so seamlessly when promoters work together.