By Hisao Adachi
The lightweight champion of the World Boxing Association, Jorge Linares (44-3, 27 KOs, 32 years old and Teiken Boxing Gym of Tokyo), has been in Japan since February 27.
He arrived in the country a few weeks after his decision win over Filipino challenger Mercito Gesta at the Forum in Inglewood, California in late January.
On Sunday, Linares began to train in the city of Narita de Chiba, a province of Tokyo, as he prepares for his next fight - which may very likely come against Vasyl Lomachenko on May 12.
Linares says he can not help but get excited and has so much motivation - because the negotiations for a showdown with Lomachenko are nearly wrapped up and the contest could be announced as early as next week.
Bob Arum of Top Rank, who promotes Lomachenko, would stage the ESPN televised fight on May 12 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Arum is very close with Linares' lead promoter, Akihiko Honda of Teiken Boxing Promotions. Linares is also handled by Golden Boy Promotions.
Lomachenko wants to fight Linares to demonstrate his superiority over the prestigious veteran - and to capture a world title in a third weight class. The two-time Olympic gold medal winner has already captured a title at 126-pounds and currently has the WBO world title at super featherweight.
Linares has a lot of respect for Lomachenko's abilities as a fighter, but he is not impressed with his level of opposition.
In the last few months, Lomachenko has received some critisim for facing what some experts feel are overmatched opponents. His last bout, in December, was a TKO win over Guillermo Rigondeaux, who was moving up by two full weight divisions and was visibly way too small for the weight - which Lomachenko himself agreed with.
"Vasyl Lomachenko is a fast and excellent and admirable fighter, but when Lomachenko puts on the gloves and gets in the same ring with me - it will be different and things will not be the same as they were before [with his other opponents]," Linares said.
"He will not be able to box like that with me. I would like to fight with Vasyl Lomachenko above everything else and at all costs. Our styles of boxing are similar, and I'm not even thinking about Lomachenko being younger than me. Our fight will be a big attraction."