By Steve Kim
WBA lightweight titlist Jorge Linares, who faces Mercito Gesta this Saturday night on HBO from the Forum in Inglewood, eked past British southpaw Luke Campbell in his last fight in September.
If not for a second round knockdown, Linares (43-3, 27 KO's) would have to had to settle for a draw as he won by the scores of 115-112, 113-115 and 114-113.
There was talk of a rematch with the Olympic gold medalist, who is handled by Eddie Hearn of Matchroom, but Linares went in another direction for the moment. Campbell (17-2, 14 KOs), who suffered his second career defeat, has yet to fight again and is not on the 2018 calendar at the moment.
Looking back at the outing, Linares told BoxingScene.com (through manager, Jose De La Cruz) of Campbell:
"He was an awkward fighter, has a lot of length. Going into the fight we didn't think he'd last five rounds. But what nobody knows is that I hurt one of my ribs in the fourth round and not until the ninth round was I able to throw my punches back together."
What was thought of as a relatively easy title defense for 32-year old Venezuelan was instead a tight affair that came down to the very end.
"But never did I feel I was losing the fight," said Linares, who is making the third defense of his WBA belt this weekend.
"(Campbell) never hurt me, at all. But it was an interesting fight and it turned out to be a little better than what people anticipated."
As part of the card on Saturday, Argentinean puncher Lucas Matthysse will get his third opportunity to capture gold, when he faces undefeated Tewa Kiram of Thailand for the vacant WBA "regular" welterweight title. Matthysse failed in two previous attempts, against Danny Garcia in 2013 and Viktor Postol in 2015.
Steve Kim is the news editor for BoxingScene.com