Vasiliy Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) was knocked down for the first time in his career, but rebounded in picking up the WBA Super World Lightweight title against Jorge Linares (44-4, 27 KOs) on Saturday.
The impressive victory came in Loma‘s debut at Lightweight.
Loma opened the bout from his typical southpaw stance, feeling out the orthodox Linares. Vasiliy, who has already graduated to the big room at MSG, received a hearty ovation on his way to the ring and deafening support as his name was announced.
Linares’ hand speed wasn’t something Loma had encountered in recent fights as the Venezuelan found success early on with his whipping jab.
After Linares took the first round, the action evened out slightly in the second. Lomachenko didn’t find a consistent rhythm early on as he ate consistent counterpunches by Linares.
After a pair of swing rounds, Loma found a more consistent rhythm. Hi-Tech‘s sublime footwork was put on display in the fourth, clipping Linares with left and right hands before ducking out of harm’s way.
Things really get fun at the end of the fifth round as Loma got the MSG faithful on their feet with a successful combination.
Before the fight, Linares had identified body work as a key to his own victory, but he found it hard to work downstairs as he received his third warning for low blows in the sixth frame.
But just as it seemed like Lomachenko was cruising, Linares turned the fight on its head by flooring Loma with a straight right–Lomachenko’s first knockdown as a professional.
Loma beat the count, but it was clear that Linares was not ready to quit. The following two rounds were a retread of the fight’s early going with Loma and Linares trading evenly.
But by the 10th round, things came unraveled for Linares. He hung on by the skin of his teeth while Loma threw and connected with accurate combos.
And then in the midst of a multi-punch combination, Lomachenko landed a vicious left hook to the ribcage that dropped Linares. Although Linares just beat the count, the referee had seen enough and waved off the contest at 2:08 of the 10th round.
At the time of the stoppage, the judges had the fight even with Linares up 86-84 on one card, Lomachenko up 86-84 on another card and the third card tied at 85-85.
The world is Loma’s oyster after this career-defining victory. Having recently been called out by Gervonta Davis, Lomachenko could go that route for a lucrative battle at Super Featherweight.
All photos by Mikey Williams/Top Rank