MEXICO CITY -- Venezuela's Jorge Linares has expressed his intention to move up to the 140-pound division soon in search of his fourth world title, unless lightweight world titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko gives him a rematch, or another interesting offer comes up at 135 pounds.
Speaking at ESPN's "A los Golpes" show, Linares said he was satisfied with his performance against Lomachenko but not with the outcome: a TKO loss in Round 10 on May 12. But he stated that he would like to have a second chance at Lomachenko.
Can you define, in just one word, what did your fight with Lomachenko mean to you: pride, satisfaction, effort, frustration?
Honestly, I think it was effort. We did so much in just one day. I prepared myself physically in a way I had never prepared before. We worked like never before. We have given our best in every fight against every opponent, however, that Lomachenko bout was elite. I had to give something I had never given before, to go all the way and reach a place I had never reached before. Really, I did well. I did not win; however, I was happy. I lifted myself. It was the most important thing for me, I did not quit. The fight was stopped. Sadly, I did not win, but we did something no one had never done before. I had him on the floor in the sixth round; we had a tie on the cards and, with two rounds left, it happened. I am still a warrior, though. I gave my best effort, and I still have a lot to prove. There's still a lot of Jorge Linares left for all to see.
Is there anything you regret when you look back at the May 12 fight? Is there anything you feel you didn't have?
There wasn't anything I did not bring to the table. There were so many things involved. Practically, I trained by myself. [Trainer] Ismael Salas wasn't there with me. However, thanks to his knowledge and the things he taught me, I was able to come up with my own strategy. I did all my own preparation. At the same time, I'm grateful to Teiken, to my young brother, [Carlos], who helped me as well, and to trainers Jorge Capetillo and Rudy Hernandez. We assembled a whole new and different team.
At the end of the day, I'm the one who actually takes the punches. Despite the outcome, we did it the best way possible. I have absolutely no regrets. I can't turn back time. I did my job the way I was supposed to do it. I was doing an excellent job. Sadly, he got me where he wanted me. He is a pretty pesky fighter to deal with, a boxer with the ability to shock you, and he has shocked the whole world. That's why many people consider him the best boxer pound-for-pound in the world, and that's the reason why I have no regrets about what happened.
Anything can happen in the world of boxing. When you're looking to knock someone out, you get knocked out, and look what happened. He never thought he would fall down, and that's what happened in the sixth round. He was able to get back up because he is also a warrior who's well prepared. It would be a disappointment if I don't get a rematch. I'm being very sincere on this one because I have no excuses. I do not excuse myself in any way. He knocked me out. He knocked me out. I got myself back up, so I could keep on working and giving out my best efforts because I still had two rounds to fight. Sadly, the referee stopped the bout. I'd like to have a rematch anytime soon.
Did you ever feel at a disadvantage because you fought a fight staged by Top Rank, Lomachenko's promoters?
Of course I felt it. I had everything going against me. He was the huge favorite; he was always protected. I had never participated in a weigh-in at 6 p.m. They took a meal off my diet that day. They thought I was going to be at 150 pounds [on fight night]. I was never above 142. He was gaining weight, and I had to lose it. However, this is a business, and I have nothing to blame him for. I am not looking for any excuses, so I could say that I lost because of this or that. This is an experience, and I learned a few things from it. I am grateful to Top Rank because they gave me such an opportunity, and I lost to the best boxer in the world pound-for-pound, someone who is widely admired and recognized throughout the world. That's why I'd love to have a rematch in the near future. I have to take care of myself. I still have a lot left to prove.
Did your perception of Lomachenko change after the fight? Is he a machine or just a human being, after all?
Linares knocks down Lomachenko in sixth
Jorge Linares lands a right hand flush to Vasiliy Lomachenko that sends him to the mat. Lomachenko gets up and survives the round.
He is human. I knew that since the beginning, ever since the fight was announced. We are all human beings, and we all have our talents. It is a normal thing. We all have advantages and disadvantages, strengths and weaknesses. It is normal. He does not like to be punched on the body, and the ref reprimanded me several times because of that. There was also the issue of our mismatch because of height. I had heard some constructive criticism after the bout because I did not work him below. But how was I supposed to do that when the referee was telling me he was going to take a point off me because of that?
I knew he is a normal human being ever since the bout started, and he is prone to fall apart just like anyone can. He ended up on the mat on the sixth round, and it wasn't because I gave him some massive blow. He came toward me, I punched him with a short right and he fell down. I knew it was a short punch, not as strong; and he started to lose steam. He went to his corner feeling a bit bad, but we still had 15 seconds left, so he was literally saved by the bell. In my case, I had about a minute left [after the knockdown in Round 10], and I wanted to keep on working him, but those things happen. We are all human. He won, but he could also lose at any time. I realized he is a boxer you can beat.
We have been told you are preparing a comeback for September or October. What's next?
I would love to get back to training. I'll start over [in June], and if I get a big opportunity, which is what I'm searching for, September would be ideal. However, it's time for some rest as well. I had fought Mercito Gesta in late January, and now I had to fight in May. I think I need some rest. It had been a while since the last time I did three fights in a single year. I used to do one or two bouts. I also want to maximize my time. I would love to get back to the ring by late September or early October. November would be too far.
That's why I came to Mexico, to get some rest. I have been treated wonderfully, and I am so thankful for that. I am leaving [soon] for Cancun, and I'll spend five days there, fully relaxed. Then I'm heading back to Japan, and you know pretty well what happens whenever I go back to Japan. If I do that, it's because something is going to happen over there. I'll sign a contract, and there's a fight or a new opportunity for me. That's what I'm looking for, so we're going to Japan to get our motors running. I have to sit down with [promoter Akihiko] Mr. Honda, and then he'll talk with Golden Boy, so they can make a decision on what's next for me.
We know very well you're a man who's always up for a challenge. Will you remain at 135 pounds or are you going to go for a fourth championship at 140 pounds?
I would love to see what opportunities there are for me at 135 pounds and if I can get a chance with Lomachenko. If I'm able to have a chance to fight him again after that, I would do the impossible to remain in this weight category and then climb up to 140. I am planning on getting to the 140-pound division, I won't deny that. I know myself quite well, physically speaking, and I also want to get a new world championship at junior welterweight, and I have a chance to do just that. I have always said that I like to look at myself in the mirror, not just to decide what I'm going to wear. I look at other things: where I am as a boxer, as a professional, to assess the chances I have and how far I can go. I am not going to tell you I'm going to get to 160 so I can fight against Canelo [Alvarez] or [unified middleweight champion Gennady] Golovkin, that would be a lie. Or that I'm going to reach 147, because frankly, I don't see myself in there. However, I'm going to be honest: I see myself reaching 140, I see myself becoming once again a world champion at 135 and 140. Those are my plans, because I know I can achieve that. Nothing is easy in this business, but I like challenges. I've challenged Lomachenko, I did my job, and no one dared to imagine I'd end up doing what I did; and I would like to have a fight at 140. Why not? I feel great. I am healthy. I did not receive any huge punches. I feel amazing, and I still have a lot to prove. However, I have learned to lose the right way. I have already lost three times. And what I feel about this fight is something completely different altogether when compared to previous occasions.