The Venezuelan born Linares (35-3, 23) is set to restart his pursuit of a Lightweight title in March when he battles Nihito Arakawa (24-3-1, 16) in what looks to be a brilliant match up. It seems that if Linares can get past the teak tough Arakawa he'll be looking for a fight with either Omar Figueroa (who is on the same card) or the winner of the upcoming WBA Lightweight title fight between Richar Abril and Eduard Troyanovsky . Of the 3 potential foes it's fair to say Linares would be better off hoping Abril can retain his title.
Ao (25-3-1, 12), pictured, hasn't yet got an opponent lined up for this year though he, like Linares will be hoping to claim a 3rd divisional title, also in the Lightweight division. We'd assume that Ao would probably be looking at any of the champions as a potential foe. Unlike Linares Ao hasn't shown durability issues and wouldn't fear fighting someone like Figueroa or Troyanovsky, both of whom have real power on their punches. Thankfully for Ao his options really are wide open with world rankings from all 4 major bodies whilst Linares wouldn't, currently, be able to compete for the IBF title which is next being fought for in Macau between Miguel Vazquez and Denis Shafikov.
Both men, who have each claimed a Featherweight and a Super Featherweight title, have traveled to the US over the past few days to spend some time in a top US gym and get some high level sparring.