Lightweights At The Garden and More... • Latino Sports

Boxing

Lightweights At The Garden and More…

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New York: Vasyl Lomachenko to many is considered the pound-for pound best in boxing and could become  a three-time division champion Saturday night at Madison Square Garden and if he defeats lightweight champion Jorge Linares on the ESPN telecast that will be another accomplishment. “Loma” as he is known, which makes it easier to remember, is doing this in his 12th professional fight.

The quick rise at 30 years of age, and with Top Rank as the promoter, makes this 12-round championship fight for the WBA title a more compelling reason to say this is huge for boxing.  Floyd Mayweather Jr, has left the scene and the face of boxing, now Lomachenko with power and charisma, has an opportunity to take over.

He has to overcome a stronger fighter. Linares, 32 years old from Venezuela is bigger and with more fights at 44-3, 27 KO’s, which never bothers Lomachenko.  The two-time Olympian from the Ukraine has the speed and reach and Linares, after two defeats is on this 13 fight win streak.

Yeng Luciano

However, streaks will not matter when they meet Saturday night. This is an anticipated fight of the year for a sport that is on a comeback.  It is in boxing standards a huge fight and with the ESPN platform of Deportes and Apps this could be another record breaker for the ratings. Madison Square Garden could see another epic fight if all goes to plan.

Bob Arum, the Hall of Fame promoter of Top Rank was smiling all week. He should and has every reason to because his long career has probably never seen a fighter like Lomachenko climb the ladder so quick in the rankings and at the box office.

“It’s a challenge, but that’s what makes a fighter one of the all-time greats,” said Arum. “He was great at 126. He devastated probably everybody at 130, Now, he’s moving up to 135, and people say, ‘Is this a bridge too far?’”

Perhaps this Lomachenko bridge is as long as the span called George Washington that leads you right to the Garden from the outskirts of New York City.  This fighter has a magnitude to draw and in boxing that also means appeal in the ring to finish off opponents. Arum had fighters over the years, Hagler, Hearns, Duran, de la hoya, all with that appeal.

Now, and at Madison Square Garden, there is a fighter destined to become more of an impact in the sport.

“The way this bout is going to go, who knows,” says Lomachenko. “It’s boxing. It’s going to be a fight, and after that , we’re going to see.” ESPN and Arum know what they can see long range and this more of this appeal and lucrative opportunities.

Assuming Linares does not pull off the upset, he is the underdog, with some seeing this fight going his way, Lomachenko becomes a bigger star.  Or it could go to the judges and be that close decision, either way this is a huge fight for boxing and in the end that’s what matters

ADAMES: DOMINICAN FIGHTER WITH APPEAL: The co-feature Saturday night at the Garden and on ESPN will feature undefeated Carlos Adames, 13-0, 11 KO’s) the 24-year old Dominican Republic fighter that Top Rank envisions as a potential superstar. Though unknown here, Adames did fight three times in New York but this is Madison Square Garden.

Yang Luciano

There is that marketing tool here as well, something Top Rank is known for. Adames is in that elite 147-pound weight class and boxing needs a rising star from the Dominican Republic and  champion that has been lacking over the years. Top Rank did their best with marketing Felix Verdejo, their lightweight from Puerto Rico as a successor to Miguel Cotto, but Verdejo has not lived up to expectations.

Now they have Adames. He has that appeal with fans because he can punch and dispose opponents, and there is that Dominican pride and a market for one in New York City.

Said Adames this week, with the assistance of an interpreter, “I’m expecting support from my people. I am not just any Dominican fighter. I’m going to fly the flag high and represent my people. To me it’s an honor being at this type of event. This is an opportunity for a big step in my career.”

Last year he also was a sparring partner with former undisputed junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford who moved up to 147, another Top Rank fighter and always in discussion as possibly the best pound-for-pound.

The task Saturday night is taking on 31-year old Mexican Alejandro Barrera, a veteran at 29-4 with 18 KO’s.

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About Rich Mancuso

Established sports journalist and educator. Contact Rich at [email protected]

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