By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Vasiliy Lomachenko is open to a rematch with Jorge Linares, but his promoter cautioned that it won’t happen next.
The lightweight championship bout between Lomachenko and Linares definitely was competitive and entertaining enough to warrant a rematch. Bob Arum, Lomachenko’s promoter, still plans to match Lomachenko against another opponent August 25 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
Arum and Lomachenko’s team haven’t settled on an opponent. Ray Beltran, the WBO lightweight champ, is one of the top options because the Mexican veteran from Phoenix would give Lomachenko a chance to added another 135-pound championship to the WBA world lightweight title he won by stopping Linares in the 10th round Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Arum’s company, Top Rank Inc., also promotes Beltran, which would make it easier to finalize a deal. Linares, who’s co-promoted by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions and Akihiko Honda’s Teiken Promotions, wants a rematch with Ukraine’s Lomachenko.
Entering the 10th round, during which Lomachenko landed a body shot that ended their back-and-forth battle, judge Steve Weisfeld had Lomachenko in front, 86-84, the same score by which judge Robin Taylor had Linares ahead. The third judge, Julie Lederman, had their fight even through nine rounds (85-85).
Venezuela’s Linares (44-4, 27 KOs) became the first professional fighter to drop Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs), who went down from a straight right hand with 31 seconds remaining in the sixth round.
“Jorge Linares is a tremendous fighter,” Arum said during a post-fight press conference. “And if and when a rematch happens is up to his able promoters, Golden Boy and Teiken, my friend, [Honda]. I’m sure toward the end of the year, maybe the beginning of next year, we’ll have that conversation. But right now, it’s premature.”
The 30-year-old Lomachenko, who became a world champion in a third weight class, said he would welcome a chance to battle Linares again.
“If the promoters want to talk about that,” Lomachenko said, “and it’s gonna be interesting for the fans and for everybody, why not? I’m open to that.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.