If I Were a Boxing Matchmaker: Jorge Linares

We can all dream, right?

Welcome back again. Today let’s discuss some potential matchups for Jorge Linares.

Jorge Linares 45-5 (28 KOs)

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Jorge Linares is one of the most talented and gifted boxers in the sport. He throws beautifully crisp combinations. He is extremely accurate, rarely wastes punches, and has quick hands. I have been watching Jorge Linares fight for many years and he has been one of my favorites in the sport within the last decade or so. Take a gander at his bout with Vasiliy Lomachenko and you can hopefully see my reasoning.

My complications with Linares are that he always leaves people like me wondering if he is going to get upset in fights that you wouldn’t expect him to. For some reason he has a tendency to play down to his opponents’ level when the competition seems to be in his favor. His loss to Vasiliy Lomachenko is understandable. That was a fantastic matchup that I was hoping to see and had the privilege of watching. He played to his opponents’ level. The bar was high, the competition was top notch and he fought like a top performer. He was on a 13-fight, 6-year winning streak prior to his loss. His other 4 losses are to Pablo Cesar Cano, Sergio Thompson, Antonio Demarco and Juan Salgado. I’m not saying these guys are bad, they are not. They were quality fighters at the time he lost to them. However, none of those guys seemed to be on his level when it comes to talent. He just seemed to play down to their skill level and ended up getting stopped by all of them. It doesn’t help that his skin is paper thin also. That’s partly how he lost the Thompson fight. He was winning the Demarco fight prior to the stoppage. He gets blown out by Cano in one round. He got caught with a flush shot on the temple that did the damage in the Salgado fight.

I don’t know if it’s arrogance, a slight lack of heart, both, or what the deal is, but it’s odd sometimes. The cuts are something that are a problem naturally for him and I get it. Getting caught wildly by Cano and Thompson like he did are sad mistakes. I think that he just assumes that he is going to win on just talent alone and that’s why these things happen. When the going gets to tough, he shows a little grit, yet not enough to not give in. I can kind of see it in his temperament and demeanor. He always has a “pretty boy” look. He kind of has a cocky smirk on his face, he seems to almost admire himself. Similar to how a baseball slugger holds the bat out and watches the ball nearly go over the fence when he thought for sure he hit a home run, but then realizes that it only made it to the warning track and only ends up with a single because he didn’t hustle out of the box. It kind of gets irritating to watch sometimes.

#1 Matchup: Mikey Garcia 39-1 (30 KOs)

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This bout would be a phenomenal chess match. These are two gifted and decorated boxers. Both of these men were at the top of the lightweight division not too long ago and still possibly could get close, if they both dropped weight to go back down to 135. Garcia vacated his WBC title for now. He is coming off of a loss to Errol Spence and Linares is coming off of a knockout loss to Pablo Cesar Cano. Linares was riding high at lightweight prior to the Lomachenko loss. This match would be a perfect opportunity for both men to prove that they are still top-level performers and it certainly would be a career defining moment if Linares could pull off the win.

#2 Matchup: Jose Pedraza 25-2 (12 KOs)

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Jose Pedraza is a skilled contender. His only losses have been to two of the top 130- and 135-pound boxers in the world. Pedraza made a good account of himself against Vasiliy Lomachenko and he was stopped by Gervonta Davis. Regardless of those two losses, Pedraza is a former Puerto Rican amateur stud and is currently a top-tier lightweight. This would show which one of these men deserves to get a chance to square off against the elite in the 135-pound division.

#3 Matchup: Tevin Farmer 29-4-1 (6 KOs)

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Tevin Farmers stock is on the rise. He is currently one of the top 130-pound boxers in the world. I’m not too fond of this 130-pound weight class and I believe most of these guys should just be fighting at the 135-pound limit. Hopefully most of them move up so we get more quality bouts like this one could be. Again, just like the Pedraza bout, this could be a bout between two very skilled boxers and could turn out to be a very intriguing match. If I were Linares’ advisor, I would try going after the top-tier boxers near the lightweight division who are not as aggressive and don’t hit as hard. These guys can still give Linares an opportunity to prove where he stands but don’t put him as much at risk for a random blowout like the Cano bout. It also gives Linares and these other skilled tacticians opportunities to showcase their boxing ability and they could still turn out to be entertaining fights, especially for boxing enthusiasts.

#4 Matchup: Masayuki Ito 25-1-1 (13 KOs)

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BIG sell in Tokyo! Both men are familiar with Japan, as Ito is a native and Linares is originally from Venezuela but has been a product of Japan for many years now. This would be a good styles matchup and could be interesting to see where both men stand in the lightweight division. Ito is on a roll right now with his wins over Evgeny Chuprakov and Christopher Diaz. His next bout could be a tough one against Jamel Herring. Regardless of if he wins or loses, the bout against Linares would be an easy one to consider.

#5 Matchup: Devin Haney 21-0 (13 KOs)

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Devin Haney is a rising prospect in boxing right now. Not only would this show where Haney is as a lightweight, but it would also show where Linares is in his career. Whether he is an older stepping stone for these young bucks, or still a top performer at the age of 33.

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