By Cliff Rold
It was the all the homecoming he and his fans could have asked for Saturday night at the El Poliedro in Caracas, Venezuela. 30-year old three-division beltholder Jorge Linares (40-3, 27 KO), 133 ½, of Barinas, Venezuela, successfully defended his WBC lightweight title with a fourth round stoppage of 27-year old Ivan Cano (23-7-2, 15 KO), 134 ¼, of Mexico City, Mexico. Linares scored knockdowns in the third and fourth rounds. It was the first title opportunity for Cano and second career defeat by knockout.
The referee was Len Kolvisto. It was the first fight for Linares in his native land since 2010 and first title fight at home.
After an entrance complete with shooting flames, Linares stunned Cano in the first and got off to a strong start. Linares again appeared to rock Cano halfway through the second but the Mexican found a home for some right hands. It wasn’t enough to deter Linares.
In the third, Linares battered Cano with power shots, forcing him to the floor for the first time inside the final minute. Cano beat the count and made it to the corner a weary man. It took just more than a minute of round four for Linares to put Cano down again, a left to the body causing a delayed reaction trip to the canvas. Rising weakly, Kolvisto waved the fight over at :58 seconds of round four.
Linares makes his second successful defense of the vacant title he won from Javier Prieto in December 2014 and won his ninth straight overall. All three of his losses have come via stoppage. Linares has previously held the WBC title at featherweight and the WBA title at 130 lbs. A looming mandatory with unbeaten Dejan Zlatacanin (21-0, 14 KO) is waiting for Linares. In a physical if not always thrilling encounter, 29-year old Venezuelan Alfonso Blanco (12-0, 5 KO), 159 ½, of Oxnard, California, won a unanimous decision over 41-year old Ukrainian Sergey Khomitsky (31-11-3, 13 KO), 158 ¼, of Minsk, Belarus. The referee was Roberto Ramirez Sr.
In a bit of only-in-boxing absurdity, the WBA will recognize the winner of this bout as their ‘interim’ titlist despite Chris Eubank Jr. currently being recognized as such. They attempted to explain earlier this week by noting that the tag wouldn’t go into effect until after Eubank defends their belt on October 24th at which time he will be vacate the title after a warning for inactivity.
It was a fight where both men worked hard but accurate punching was hard to find. Khomitsky tried to make the fight as the aggressor while Blanco used a steady jab and quick flurries. When he committed, Blanco’s’s best work came to the body. The judges favored Blanco’s boxing over Khomitsky’s bulling by scores of 116-112 and 119-109 twice.
38-year old Russian Heavyweight Alexander Ustinov (32-1, 23 KO), 285 ½, of Minsk, Belarus, wasted little time getting rid of an ancient trial horse. Ustinov scored a first round knockout of 39-year old Maurice Harris (26-20-3, 11 KO), 238 ¼, of East Orange, New Jersey. Whether the finishing punch scored the knockout was hard to tell. Replays from certain angles appeared to show the finishing right hand from Ustinov missing and sailing over the back of Harris’s head. The referee was Gustavo Padilla.
In 108 lb. action, 22-year old Carlos Canizales (10-0, 9 KO), 107, of Caracas, Venezuela, went the distance for the first time in his career, winning a split decision in eleven rounds over Robert Barrera (12-1, 7 KO), 107, of San Jose de Canalete, Colombia. It appeared that the traveling Barrera may have gotten the better of the action but the local man got the nod. It was the first time Canizales has been past the third round of a professional contest.
In the opener, 20-year old Jr. lightweight Roger Gutierrez (9-0-1, 7 KO) of Maracaibo, Venezuela, scored an easy technical knockout in two rounds. Gutierrez used a left uppercut to bust the nose of 23-year old Luis Nino (5-4, 4 KO) of Caracas, Venezuela, in the second round. A right hand turned Nino torso first to the ropes and referee Juan Martinez halted the action.
Light Heavyweight: Maxim Vlasov (31-2, 15 KO) UD6 Gusmyr Perdomo (22-6, 15 KO)
The card was webcast in the US on ESPN3 and will be televised via tape delay tomorrow night on ESPN Deportes.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]