In Saturday's FOX Sports Championship Boxing, held at Sacramento Memorial Auditorium in California, for 10 full rounds in their lightweight bout, former WBC featherweight/WBA super featherweight champion Jorge Linares duked it out against Mexican veteran Hector Velazquez to earn the nod of the three judges 100-89, 98-91, 97-91.
Despite the scorecards, the unanimous decision victory did not come easy as the durable 37-year-old Hector Velazquez made it hard for Jorge Linares to easily run away with the victory. Hector Velazquez never backed down and engaged Jorge Linares tit-for-tat the entire fight.
The victory may have earned Jorge Linares a rematch with erstwhile tormentor Antonio DeMarco, who in October 2011, rallied from being behind in the scorecards, and despite being outlanded 216 to 97 in total punches, stunned the favored Venezuelan in an 11th round TKO at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA to claim the vacant WBC lightweight title.
Jorge Linares (32-3, 20 KOs), who showed battle scars all over his face, stated in the post-fight interview that he would "like to fight again this year if his doctor would allow him" and "wants a rematch with deMarco" next year.
But seeing Jorge Linares in action last Saturday and the trouble that Hector Velazuez caused him, this writer believes that he needs to work more on his defense if he wants to avenge his embarassing loss to Antonio DeMarco.
Jorge Linares, dubbed "El Niño de Oro," or "Golden Boy," has a very good boxing pedigree. He is a well-skilled, two-fisted fighter who can knock the lights out of any opponent on any given day. Yes, he is a talented fighter but a very vulnerable one. He possesses a very good offensive arsenal but also has very poor defense and a certified glass chin. Alas, all of his losses were knockouts to power-punching opponents: Antonio DeMarco, Juan Carlos Salgado and Sergio Thompson.
In his fight against Hector Velazquez, Jorge Linares had all the statistical advantages on his side: younger (27 y/o to 37 y/o), taller (5'-8 1/2" to 5'-7"), weight (135 1/5 lbs to 134 1/2 lbs) and reach (72" to 69") yet the older Hector Velazquez took him into deep waters.
The fight was on right from the opening bell. Both fighters negated the traditional 'feeling out' process as they elected to just get it on and pounced on each other, testing their resolve early.
It was a give and take affair in the center of the ring: Jorge Linares would launch a two-fisted attack digging into his opponents belly while Hector Velazquez would use his right hooks to connect upstairs.
Jorge Linares started strong and was winning the trade-off early as he used his speed, reach advantage and footwork to confuse Hector Velazquez. He speared from a distance, landed the harder shots and easily moved out of range of any counterattack from Velazquez.
But Hector Velazquez would not be denied as he imposed his presence onto Jorge Linares. Hector Velazquez narrowed the gap, forcing himself into Linares, smothering, crowding and pinning him against the ropes while doing damage in close-quarter combat.
The fight was intense and hard-fought. Jorge Linares had the edge in offense as he peppered Hector Velazquez with combinations, but the Mexican would take them all in the chin and continue his attacks, probing and penetrating Linares' porous defense.
And this is why Jorge Linares is vulnerable. For a fighter gifted with a vast array of offensive firepower and a very good footwork to boot, the guy loves to trade shots with his opponents thereby negating his advantages. Jorge Linares is hittable and his glass chin would be his downfall especially if his opponent can walk through his punches and posseses the power to shatter his chin. If Hector Velazquez (52-18-3, 35 KOs) was 10 years younger, he probably could have pulled the trigger. But father time has diminished his ability to do that.
However, Antonio DeMarco, a young lion who packs power in both hands and endowed with a granite chin, will be a very different animal for Jorge Linares. Antonio DeMarco proved it before and he will surely prove it again the moment their paths will cross in the future. And as the old saying goes, "be careful what you wish for."
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