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2018 Fight of the Year: Vasyl Lomachenko vs Jorge Linares

A lot of fight of the year contenders or winners I have noticed have been bouts in which both fighters make critical mistakes and both have to fight back with a pension of heart after a physical or cognitive impairment forcing them out of their comfort zone.

Well, this is a subjective category, but I went another direction. I went with the fight that was most memorable to me, and the one that left the lasting impression upon me this year, which was Vasyl Lomachenko winning a world title in his third weight class to win the WBA lightweight world title over Jorge Linares.

The bout was a true treat as Lomachenko was forced to have to adapt as he appeared to hit his ceiling in terms of weight classes as Jorge Linares’ size along with solid fundamentals caused frustration for Lomachenko.

I’ve seen a lot of people write off this victory as Linares for all of his talent has been a true underachiever especially with his loss to Antonio DeMarco, but Linares, when he puts everything together, is a world class fighter as it appears motivation or interest in his opponent matters, as Linares was coming into this bout after an average showing against Luke Campbell.

Lomachenko, on the other hand, is a fighter who many have wanted exalt as the best of his generation and with a solid resume in a short period of time, there is a solid case, but Lomachenko has been treated in a do-no-wrong sense whereas fighters like Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Roy Jones Jr. arguably had more impressive runs and received a 1/3 of the praise in their prime. It is a double standard that is apparent, and off-putting to some, but if you can get by the blatant salesman pitches of broadcasters and writers talking about his movement as something we have never seen before, Lomachenko is one of the best to ever do it, it just at times gets tiresome when people tell you this without sharing an interesting observation to go with it.

The bout which was broadcast on ESPN showed the power of the platform as initially, I had no interest in the bout, but after watching the weigh-in, it had the feeling of a major pay-per-view bout despite it being broadcast on cable television.

What made it interesting for me was the thought behind each move. The first few rounds saw Lomachenko doing extremely well, but also not as confident as prior bouts as he was not willing not unleash long combinations as he did against Guillermo Rigondeaux or Nicholas Walters. Linares stood and countered Lomachenko something we hadn’t seen especially during his aura of invincibility after his loss to Orlando Salido.

The dramatic moment of the bout was when a well-timed right hand by Linares landed and dropped Lomachenko who sat right up but looked stunned that he could be dropped in a bout. Lomachenko would fight back and drop Linares in the tenth round with a well-placed body shot, but the fight was a draw on the scorecards at the time of the stoppage.

To me, this felt like the last prime Lomachenko fight as Lomachenko took damage in this bout also lost a bit of his confidence in this bout as well. After the bout, the fighters went in different directions, Linares moved up to 140 lbs, and is currently prepping for a January 18th bout against Pablo Cesar Cano, meanwhile, Lomachenko picked up another world title in December, the WBO lightweight world title over Jose Pedraza in a closer than expected fight.

In short, this bout felt like apex mountain for the career of Vasyl Lomachenko, who had to get off the canvas to win a bout that was not a given he would win.

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Lukie Ketelle

Lukie Ketelle