Linares-Lomachenko and the Continuation of the Cold War
By Hector Franco | Senior Writer and Editor
Published: February 17, 2018
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If you have been paying attention to boxing headlines over the last few weeks, you may have felt a sudden flash of déjà vu. WBA and Ring Magazine lightweight (135) world champion Jorge Linares (44-3, 27 KOs) and WBO 130-pound champion Vasyl Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs) have been negotiating to meet in the ring later this year. Linares is currently promoted by Golden Boy Promotions who is best known for promoting boxing’s current most prominent star Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Top Rank currently promotes the two-time Olympic gold medalist Lomachenko. Lomachenko is looking to make a move into the lightweight division.
After the conclusion of the Mayweather-Pacquiao era, fans were anticipating seeing a less fractured boxing landscape. A sport where promoters worked with other promoters more often and cable television networks did not stand in the way of fights being made. In the case of Linares-Lomachenko, there is a disagreement over the date of May 12th. Top Rank last year made a deal with ESPN to provide boxing content for the sports network and have Madison Square Garden booked for the date of May 12th. Golden Boy also provides content for ESPN, but they are the primary content provider for HBO at this current time. On the night of May 12th, HBO will be showing the replay of the highly anticipated rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. If Linares-Lomachenko were to take place on May 12th on ESPN, Golden Boy would essentially be counter-programming against themselves.
Squabbling over a fight date is nothing new for boxing fans. Many may remember during the years of negotiation before Mayweather-Pacquiao all the various roadblocks of dates, finances, deadlines and stadium building. Linares-Lomachenko is nowhere near the scale of Mayweather-Pacquiao as financial terms for the fight have reportedly been agreed upon.
Nelson, who is the Executive Vice President of Sports for HBO seems to be getting the most of Arum’s wrath over the fight not taking place. Over the last few decades, boxing fans have become accustomed to having important matches take place on a Saturday night. However, big fights taking place exclusively on Saturday’s has not always been the case.
In the 1980’s many of the sports biggest fights were frequently on days other than Saturday. The man voted as the boxer of the decade in the 80’s had two of the biggest fights of his career take place on a Monday and Wednesday. Sugar Ray Leonard’s first bout with Thomas Hearns for welterweight supremacy took place on Wednesday. When Leonard made his return to the sport after an early retirement against middleweight champion Marvin Hagler, the fight took place on a Monday. Of course, this is an entirely different era for the sport of boxing and for how our society watches media and television. While Monday and Wednesday may not be the best days for a major fight to take place, a Friday night could be a good alternative.
While networks and television dates may prevent Linares-Lomachenko from taking place; the two fighters certainly want the fight. The two men have traded insults via social media over the past few weeks and do not stand in the way of the match being made. Both fighters have other options than to fight each other as Linares has been vying for a fight with WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia and Lomachenko could challenge recently crowned WBO lightweight champion Ray Beltran who is also promoted by Top Rank. Golden Boy President Eric Gomez has stated that the only issue they have is the date.
At this point, it seems that the timing may not be just right for Linares-Lomachenko to take place. Both sides have certain restrictions that they do not want to compromise on. The bout still has a possibility of taking place later this year. In each era of boxing, there will be fights that merely don’t take place for a variety of reasons. With alliances to certain cable networks being more prevalent than ever in the sport there are certain fights that just won’t take place. The hope is that Linares-Lomachenko is not one of them.
(Feature Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Associated Press)