The Lightweight division has been a rather interesting one in recent but one which hasn't had the super fights we'd been hoping for. Instead of top fights we've had a mix of solid contests, and really lacklustre ones. The one man who had stood out as consistently facing top contenders is Venezuelan star Jorge Linares (43-3, 27), the current WBA, Ring Magazine and WBC “Diamond” champion. Over the last three years he has defeated Kevin Mitchell, Anthony Crolla, twice, and Luke Campbell and this coming Saturday he looks to record his next defense, as he takes on Filipino foe Mercito Gesta (31-1-2, 17).
The 32 year old champion, dubbed "el niño del oro", or "the golden boy", has long been a world class fighter. He won his first world title back in July 2007, when he stopped Oscar Larios for the WBC Featherweight title, and he would subsequently claim the WBA Super Featherweight before winning the WBC Lightweight and later the WBA Lightweight title. What has helped him to be so successful is the fact he is one of the most naturally gifted fighters in the sport. He is hugely skilled, everything he does looks incredibly fluid and he combines that with under-rated power and some of the best combination punching in the sport.
Whilst wonderfully skilled Linares does have issues with durability and arguably concentration and stamina. His losses have all been stoppages, and all against fighters he was fancied to beat, Juan Carlos Salgado, Antonio DeMarco and Sergio Thompson. Those losses have seen his chin being cracked, his energy running out and his skin ripping. Whilst he's a wonderful fighter to watch there is always a worry that he will cut, or be caught. There is also a worry that he will become bored in the ring, something we've seen a number of times, though hasn't yet cost him a win.
The 30 year old challenger has been a professional since 2003 and was tipped to be one of the major stars of Filipino boxing, with some dubbing him the next Pacquiao. Sadly though Gesta has failed to ever live up to that hype and looked totally confused and lost in his only other world title fight, a 2012 bout against the then IBF Lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez. The performance against Vazquez wasn't just bad, but it was confusing and weird, with Gesta regularly looking up to the big screen and looking disinterested, in what was a potentially career changing bout. That loss was followed by more than a year out of the ring, though he has since gone 5-0-1 (3), scoring a draw with Carlos Molina and wins over the likes of Miguel Angel Mendoza and Martin Honorio.
In the ring Gesta is a pretty good fighter, but not one who deserved the early career hype that he had. A lot of the hype was because he had debuted at the age of 16 and looked very promising as a prospect, but didn't have the big amateur career and it wasn't long until there was some flaws showing up in his performances. He was winning bouts, for the most part, and even fighting in the US, but a lot of the time he was failing to shine and wasn't being given real tests. To his credit howeber when he was stepped up he looked better than he had earlier, with wins against Oscar Meza, Ricardo Dominguez and Ty Barnett. But totally fell apart mentally against Vazquez.
Gesta is a southpaw with some nice skills and could be a test at 135lbs for many contenders. But he's not a particularly heavy handed fighter, or a high action fighter. He has a nice variety of shots, all of which look sharp and damaging, but lacks intensity and defensively he doesn't look anything great. That isn't helped by the fact his chin isn't the best, and he has been down a number of times during his career.
The best Gesta has a chance against the worst Linares, but the reality here is that Linares should school the Filipino, who may well end up suffering his first stoppage loss, if Linares wishes to make a statement. There really is only a very slim, punchers chance for Gesta here.
This year ends with a bang in Japan with 8 world title fights over the spaces of 2 days. OF those 8 bouts only one doesn't feature a Japanese born fighter, that is the WBC Lightweight title fight between the Venezuelan born-Japanese based Jorge Linares (37-3, 24) and Mexico's Javier Prieto (24-7-2, 18). The bout is for the vacant title and the Teiken managed Linares will be hoping to becomea 3-weight world champion, adding the WBC Lightweight title to previous reigns at Featherweight and Super Featherweight.
As a professional Linares has been adopted by Japanese fans. Of his 40 previous fights 22 have been in Japan, he lives in Japan, speaks Japanese and has long been a favourite of Japanese fight fans. In the ring he has shown traits that Japanese fans are familiar with, in fact in many ways he is similar to Japan's very own Hozumi Hasegawa. Like Hasegawa he has shown frailty, being dropped numerous times, he has fantastic handspeed, throws lovely combinations and is amazingly well skilled.
In the ring Linares is one of the sports most beautiful boxers to watch. Offensively he has it all. Sadly however his offensive brilliance isn't matched by his toughness which is questionable, at best. All 3 of his losses to date have come by stoppage. One of those was a shocking opening round loss to Juan Carlos Salgado in one of the major upsets of 2009, one was a bloody 11th round TKO loss to Antonio DeMarco in a bout Linares looked in control of whilst the third was a cuts loss to Sergio Thompson. In all 3 losses it's seemed like Linares broke when he was hit back and questions remain not just about his toughness but also his heart and stamina.
Whilst it may seem silly to question his stamina there is an amazing stat regarding Linaes, he has never gone 12 rounds, His longest bout to date was the loss to DeMarco. It was the only time in 40 fights that Linares has gone beyond the 10th round of a fight. For all the offensive qualities he has, and his experience, there are still a lot of questions that we don't know the answer to.
Although there questions about Linares it's fair to say he is a much more known quantity than Preito who, in the eyes of many, is getting a very undeserved opportunity. Aged 27 Prieto is slightly younger than Linares though hasn't fought any where near the same level of competition.
Regarded as a puncher Prieto is dangerous, at least at the lower levels. Sadly however it's hard to know just how good he actually is. His best win, a decision over Vicente Mosquera, looks like an anomaly and he has failed to beat anyone else of note, losing to the likes of Ali Chebah, Edgar Puerta and Roberto Ortiz whilst being held to back-to-back draw by Ivan Cano. Those results make us question just how legitimate Preito's power actually is.
As well questions regarding Prieto's power and credentials we also aren't convinced by his skills or durability. In the ring he looks big and powerful but very slow, incredibly basic. It seems he has gotten as far as he has with a lot of luck as technically he does very little impressively and often stalks with out cutting the ring off or applying real pressure. In 33 fights he has never shown real world class ability or the potential to ever be world class.
From what we've seen of the two men Prieto has just 1 thing Linares doesn't have, the proven ability to go 12 rounds. That's something that the Mexican has done 5 times, winning 2 of those bouts, drawing two and losing one. That advantage however, may be his sole advantage of Linares.
In our view this is a stylistic dream for Linares, fighting a slower, wilder, open opponent who is there to be tagged clean at will repeatedly. The one danger Linares has is being caught by a wild shot that either cuts him or leaves him ready to be finished. In all honesty however Linares shouldn't get caught by something like that from Prieto who is likely to be kept at range by Linares footwork. What we're expecting is for Linares to fight at his pace, if not a little slower than usual, box and move, whilst making Prieto look silly for 12 rounds. Yes we're suspect a 12 round decision win for Linares. The Venezuelan may have a few hairy moments if he gets complacent.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
When we think about boxing in Asia we do typically think of Asian fighters. Fighters from Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines. What we often forget however is that numerous international fighters are now based in, managed by or promoted by Asian stables
On such man is the highly talented Venezuelan Jorge Linares (34-3, 22), a man who has been affiliated with Teiken promotions through out his career.
Linares returns to Japan on November 10th as he attempts to become a 3-weight champion and avenge the demons of an opening round blow out at the hands of Juan Carlos Salgado 4 years in what was his last world title fight in Japan.
It's been a long time since Linares was beaten by Salgado and since then the once promising career of Linares has failed to ever really reach the heights expected of him. Sure he has won 7 contests but he has also lost 2, in fact he's he's lost in his two highest profile contests since the loss to Salgado.
This time the risk of Linares being stopped is slim as he takes on WBA Lightweight champion Richar Abril (18-3-1, 8) a light punching but highly talented Cuban. In all honesty a stoppage loss here for Linares could well be the end of the road for him.
Aged just 28 Linares has been a fighter on the radar for what feels like an eternity. That's because he's been in and around the world level for over 6 years dating back to his first world title victory, a stoppage of Oscar Larios for the WBC Featherweight title. Since then he has been in a further 5 world title fights, winning 3 and losing 2.
On the flipside of that is the fact Abril is a bit of a late comer to the world scene. The Cuban only had his first world title fight 2 years ago and has only fought in 3 of them so far. Aged 31 he is older than Linares, though he's also tougher taking on, and in the eyes of many defeating, the rampaging Brandon Rios.
When we talk about the two fighters they are both boxers, but both entirely different.
Linares is a genuine joy to watch. He has quick hands, great movement, blistering combinations and whilst he's not a banger he can force stoppages through sheer work rate. On the reverse he's been seen as fragile both mentally and physically and he can be bullied around as well as worn out due to his work rate. Gorgeous to watch but certainly not a "warrior" at heart.
On the other hand Abril can be awful to watch. He can hold, he can wrestle, he can make things very messy and tedious. At the same time however he can pick a guy apart with an accurate jab, an efficient straight and land some amazingly crisp and sharp shots around a fighter defenses. At his best Abril is a fantastic pure boxer and his worst he's a cure for insomnia. Strangely we can see both sides of Abril in the same round which can lead to a lot of frustration watching him.
If fights were won on looks alone Linares would already have this one won. In the ring however the Cuban will make this very difficult. If Abril is allowed to get his jab going and allowed to hold when he wants to to slow the pace the Cuban will likely retain his title. If Linares however can set the pace for the first 7 or 8 rounds then Teiken will have managed to guide him to a third divisional title.
This bout really does depend on who can dictate the tempo of the fight. A slow fight is Abril's a fast fight is Linares's.
With that that said however Linares will almost certainly know that this will be his last major chance. He needs a win. That sort of pressure can see a fighter performing to their absolute best and if Linares does, then he takes this via a competitive clear decision. If the pressure gets to Linares than Abril gets this via a close decision.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.