Advertisement

Jorge Linares thinks he has the formula to beat the talented Vasyl Lomachenko

Jorge Linares has reversed the message of Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York."

By being able to "make it" everywhere else already, he finds himself bound for Madison Square Garden on Saturday to emphasize that point in the spring's most important fight, confident he can defeat the gifted Vasyl Lomachenko, as well.

Advertisement

"You can see fighters sometimes that are very accomplished, but only in their backyard. Once they go out, they are destroyed," Linares said.

"I've taken something from each place — I am a sponge. I learn every day. And I know very well the sacrifices paid off. That's why I thank God, because that's why I am receiving the compensation today. Every human who sacrifices will get something in the end."

Advertisement

Linares (44-3, 27 knockouts) left his native Venezuela for Japan at age 16 to be schooled in boxing. He remembers crying his eyes out at Christmas and during birthdays because he missed his family.

His heart was also broken by missing a young love. And he was afraid to go out at night, for fear of "being jumped."

Yet, he developed inner strength and courage thanks to boxing while his pro career took him to bouts in Japan, Mexico, Panama, South Korea and England.

Since losing a lightweight title shot at Staples Center in 2011, Linares, 32, has won 13 consecutive bouts, including his sixth and seventh consecutive World Boxing Assn. lightweight title defenses at the Forum in the past year to reach Saturday's ESPN-televised card.

Advertisement

Some of Linares' recent bouts, including a triumph over England's Luke Campbell and Anthony Crolla, have been razor close, but there's something to be said about Linares' resilience and ability to find a path to victory as complications occur.

"Every problem has a solution. That comes with experience," Linares said. "Gaining that experience to know how to resolve those issues — those problems you have in front of you — that comes through time."

Against Campbell, he overcame an injured rib, and he hurt his hand in a January triumph over Mercito Gesta.

"When I am in the middle of the fight, I am in there, the fans feel I can knock him out in the following round or I can fall behind a bit in the middle, but toward the end I close strong and I come out with the victory," Linares said. "What I admire in many fighters is when they fall and fall hard and they get up and win the fight."

The complexity heightens severely with Lomachenko (10-1, eight KOs), and even those in Linares' camp whisper that the former two-division champion is special, as his speed and technical brilliance have forced four consecutive foes to retire on their stool.

"I'm about not just physical resistance, but mental resistance. He's a really fast fighter. I won't stand still at any time in the fight and fall into his trap," Linares vowed. "I have the reach, the height, the speed. I'm stronger."

The bout has replaced the scrapped Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez fight as the most important in the first half of 2018, with Linares eyeing a next fight against four-division champion Mikey Garcia and Ukraine's Lomachenko being pointed at a fall date against Manny Pacquiao.

"Opportunity arises, and we're going to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Linares said, drawing extra inspiration from his troubled country led by embattled leader Nicolas Maduro.

Advertisement

"It does hurt to see how as days go by more and more of my country is crumbling. Knowing that there is so much talent there, not just in boxing but other sports, so much talent is going to waste. They might not even participate in the next Olympics, because they can't get travel. They can't go to the eliminations and go on in tournaments," Linares said.

"That hurts. But you can see the support and the love from the fans keeps growing and growing, even though they are going through a difficult moment. The only way I can pay them back is with the results, with victory."

Twitter: @latimespugmire

Advertisement
Advertisement