Vasiliy Lomachenko's new lightweight belt has him on collision course with Mikey Garcia

Vasiliy Lomachenko did more than reveal his heart by rising from the gasping moment of his first pro knockdown to claim his third division belt in his 12th fight.

Lomachenko's 10th-round technical knockout of longtime lightweight champion Jorge Linares in front of more than 10,000 fans at Madison Square Garden on Saturday also moves boxing one step closer toward its next super-fight.


Unbeaten, four-division champion Mikey Garcia (38-0, 30 knockouts) watched Lomachenko's impressive triumph and showed due respect when asked about the showing.

"Lomachenko did good, beat a solid world champion at 135 [pounds]," Garcia texted the Los Angeles Times. "I would love a fight with him. Hope we can make it in the near future."

Promoter Bob Arum announced after Saturday's bout that he's planning for Lomachenko (11-1, nine KOs) to return to the ring Aug. 25 at the Forum, most likely against newly crowned World Boxing Organization champion Ray Beltran, a former sparring partner of Manny Pacquiao.

Beltran would be a massive underdog to the gifted Lomachenko, who threw more than 700 punches at Linares and has overwhelmed many with his rapid hand speed and strategic movement.

Should Lomachenko, who trains in Oxnard, collect his second lightweight belt in August, he could be joining Oxnard-raised Garcia as a two-belt lightweight champion.

Promoters are eyeing July 28 for a lightweight-title unification bout at Staples Center between Garcia, the World Boxing Council champion, and International Boxing Federation champion Robert Easter Jr., a tall, complicated fighter.

The main reason it wouldn't happen later this year is that Arum wants Lomachenko to fight former seven-division world champion Pacquiao in a 140-pound pay-per-view bout this fall.

Making Lomachenko-Garcia is rooted in common sense. However, Garcia's bad parting in 2014 with Arum and Top Rank might be an obstacle.

Garcia grew so disenchanted with his promoters' inability to make lucrative fights that he spent more than three years out of boxing before a judge finally allowed him to split.

Vasiliy Lomachenko lands a punch against Jorge Linares during their WBA lightweight title fight at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
Vasiliy Lomachenko lands a punch against Jorge Linares during their WBA lightweight title fight at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. (Al Bello / General Mills via Getty Images)

Lomachenko, the new champion described by Arum as boxing's Picasso, showed vulnerability in his new weight class.

Lomachenko dealt with a reigning champion who weighed 14 pounds heavier than him on fight night, and he absorbed the brunt of that disadvantage in the sixth round when Linares pounded Lomachenko on the nose, dropping the Ukranian.

That made Linares promoter Oscar De La Hoya giddy in celebration at ringside, but the joy was shortlived as Lomachenko returned to near-peak form a round later and eventually unloaded a power punch to the ribs that dropped Linares in the 10th.

The Venezuelan stood but needed referee Ricky Gonzalez's assistance to raise his arms upward. Gonzalez saw enough damage to rule the fight was over.

Although his drawing power has taken awhile to build, Lomachenko had more reason to celebrate Sunday when ESPN announced the bout drew the strongest viewership of any fight on cable this year.