Moving up: Lomachenko fights Linares in search of 3rd title

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After the contest was over, Lomachenko gave praise to Linares for providing a very stiff test. Linares though was accurate with his counter punches in the first and landed a good lead left hook at the end of the round. That brutal body blow left Linares on one knee.

Vasyl Lomachenko wins his third division title in just 12 professional fights, setting a new record.

"He has very good body work", Linares said of Lomachenko's more focused later-round targeting of the mid-section.

However, the hand and foot speed of double Olympic champion Lomachenko - considered among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world - proved decisive against his bigger opponent. A Lomachenko-Beltran bout would be a lightweight title unification fight because Beltran (35-7-1, 21 KOs) won the then-vacant WBO 135-pound championship by beating Paulus Moses by unanimous decision February 16 in Reno, Nevada. He has held four belts in three different divisions, is naturally bigger than Lomachenko, and has successfully defended his lightweight crown seven times, the last against Filipino challenger Mercito Gesta last January.

This was an incredibly hard one to decide upon, but from what I've seen I have to give the Venezuelan fighter the slight edge on speed. Lomachenko could fight someone in the Los Angeles area to open himself up to the fanbase, which could add even more prestige and intrigue to a fight with Garcia, who is reportedly facing IBF lightweight world titleholder Robert Easter on July 28 in LA.

"The motivation of fighting the best gets me up in the morning, not only Lomachenko, but that is really motivating me because I'm fighting the best pound-for-pounder in boxing and I want to continue fighting the best", he said. Do you think that Linares could defeat the Ukrainian if given a second crack at the opportunity?

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Linares did catch Loma with a sweet left uppercut with a minute remaining, but the two-time Olympian again made him pay with a stinging combo to the body.

Lomachenko did just that, and he has continued to break down his opponents both mentally and physically. Linares landed the shot of the round with a right hand as Lomachnko was coming forward, timing the head movement of Vasyl to hit his straight down the pipe.

Lomachenko wasn't seriously hurt, but would he be shaken up enough mentally for Linares to move in?

That would be the same Bob Arum who, two days earlier, had told another reporter that Lomachenko "doesn't put on unnecessary weight because that slows him down" and that "Linares probably will go in at 150, 155, something like that, so Loma is giving away a lot of weight". Arum has booked The Forum in Inglewood, California for a title defense on August 25.

Now it's Lomachenko who will be the smaller man.