Best Bets For The Vasiliy Lomachenko-Jorge Linares Fight

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Best bets for the Vasiliy Lomachenko-Jorge Linares fight
Johnny Wilds
ESPN INSIDER

The WBA world lightweight belt will be up for grabs Saturday night when WBA chmpion Jorge "El Niño De Oro" Linares (44-3, 27 KOs) defends his title against WBO junior lightweight champion Vasiliy "Hi-Tech" Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs). The matchup will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Here's a look at where the money is going, along with opinions from boxing experts and trainers, and my prediction and best bet for the fight.

Where is the money going?


Jeff Sherman, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook's manager, opened the fight with Lomachenko -1500/Linares +850. Westgate moved the fight to -2000 and +1000 based on market price, but has minimal wagering thus far. The total rounds prop was set at 9.5.

"We have only written two tickets on Loma and two tickets on the underdog Linares," Sherman said. He is expecting more action on fight day, as is the case for most fights outside of Las Vegas.


Vasiliy Lomachenko-1500-2000
Jorge Linares+850+1000
Odds courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook


At William Hill US, senior trader Adam Pullen posted the fight with Lomachenko -800 and Linares +550 in early April.

"We are now up to -1800/+1000," Pullen said. "The straight-bet money wagered is about even, but tickets written are 6.5-to-1 in favor of Linares, and we have a bit of liability from parlays riding to Lomachenko." Pullen also posted a total on the fight at 9.5 rounds (over -115/under -115) late Tuesday night.
Experts weigh in


Colin Morrison (boxing sharp): "This will be the third consecutive southpaw opponent for Linares. Luke Campbell presented some difficulties for the Venezuelan before he had a more comfortable time defeating Mercito Gesta in January. Lomachenko brings a unique skill set to the contest, as he tries to add Linares' lightweight title to his collection. Expect a skill-filled technical fight that goes the distance. Linares' size and power advantage will keep him in the fight until the end, but it will be Lomachenko having his hand raised. Lomachenko UD."
Abraham Gonzalez (boxing sharp): "Look for Linares to steal some early rounds with flashy hand speed and combos, while Loma will win the later rounds. At the end, I think it will be a close split decision. Linares by SD."

Stephen "Breadman" Edwards (boxing trainer): "Linares will show his class early, but Loma is a unique blend of athleticism, talent and skill. After the fifth round, Loma pulls away and dominates."

Michelle Joy Phelps (boxing sharp): "Loma's new nickname, 'No Mas,' suits him considering he has made four of his 10 opponents quit on the stool. But I don't see Linares being the fifth. He's too tough, too proud to ever quit. With three losses by stoppage, one must question his chin and if it can withstand the power from Vasiliy. But this will be Vasiliy's first fight at 135 pounds, and he is facing the champion who has successfully defended his title seven times. Has Vasiliy bit off more than he can chew, or is he so good he can enter an entirely new weight class and dethrone the champion? I think it will go the distance and this fight will be closer than some expected."

John "Iceman" Scully (boxing trainer): "Once Loma gets his rhythm, I could see a whitewash. After the fourth or fifth round, it will be another typical performance from him and a clear decision victory."

Julian "J-Rock' Williams" (IBF No. 1-ranked light middleweight): "Linares is one of my favorite fighters, as he's shown so much resilience throughout his career with all the setbacks. He's so skillful, but Loma is a different kind of fighter. I expect a close fight in the beginning, then I expect Loma to separate himself in the mid-to-late rounds for a stoppage. It kills me to say this, too."

Amanda Kelley (boxing painter/sharp): "As an artist, I know how to create an illusion with elements of truth. On paper, a solid argument can be made for the experienced, talented Jorge Linares successfully defending his lightweight belt this Saturday. However, like a great work of art, Vasiliy Lomachenko has the intangible qualities to beat the veteran. Hold your breath as Linares paints Lomachenko's body with power and precision in the early rounds. Exhale when Lomachenko adjusts to the onslaught of punches, returns fire and dazzles his way to a UD."

Marcos Figueroa (boxing sharp): "Linares is a very good fighter. Lomachenko is an elite fighter. Those who are elite win a lot more than not. Don't think we will see 'NoMasChenko' in this fight, though. Loma clear UD."

Evan Young (boxing sharp): "Linares is a terrific boxer. Fast, smooth combinations -- a real operator. Yet with that, he gets hit too much and can be hurt by lesser opponents. Lomachenko is emerging as a super talent. Linares is world class, but Lomachenko is on another level. In an early chess match, Loma breaks it open by the mid rounds and scores stoppage in the last third of the fight."

• Luke Chapman (boxing sharp): "P4P superstar Loma is coming up to 135, but looking unstoppable on a nine-fight win streak, the last seven of them having retired inside the distance. Linares, himself on a 13-fight win streak, is possibly the toughest fight for Loma since [Orlando] Salido and will enjoy some success here if he sticks to his game plan and doesn't fall for Loma's bag of tricks. Easier said than done when you're in The Matrix! Ultimately, Loma will get the win via a late stoppage, rounds 10-12."

Joshua Stabile (boxing sharp): "Lomachenko is the most skilled defensive fighter since [Floyd] Mayweather. His footwork and ability to mount offense without getting touched is unmatched. I will take him over any boxer within 10 pounds of his weight class until I see otherwise."
Tale of the tape

Age3032
Height5-75-8
Reach65.5 inches69 inches
StanceSouthpawOrthodox
Fights1147
Wins1044
Losses13
Draws00
KOs827
KO percentage73 percent57 percent


Lomachenko: The 30-year-old Ukrainian has only had 11 professional fights, but is ranked No. 1 on ESPN's pound-for-pound rankings. He is a two-time Olympic gold champion, fighting in the 2008 and 2012 Games. He has a reported 396-1 amateur record and has the record for winning two different world titles in the fewest fights. If he wins Saturday, he will set the record for fewest fights to win three division titles. Two former greats who achieved this feat were Jeff Fenech in his 20th pro fight and Oscar De La Hoya in his 22nd.

He has adopted the moniker of "NoMasChenko" as his last four opponents have all quit on their stools. Lomachenko is a southpaw who pretty much does everything in the ring with superiority. He is a sharp shooter, punches in combinations from various angles, is always in fantastic shape and has a very sound defense. Bottom line, he brings amazing athleticism into ring.

Linares: The 32-year-old fighting out of Las Vegas via Venezuela is a three-division champion. He has held the WBC featherweight title in 2007 and the WBA super featherweight title in 2008 and won the WBC lightweight title in 2014. He added the WBA lightweight strap in September 2016 over Anthony Corolla and has defended it three times, including a rematch with Corolla (winning via unanimous decision, just like he did in their first bout). He is coming off a win over Gesta in January, winning by UD with scores of 118-110, 118-110 and 117-111.


Linares has excellent skills in the ring, including great movement, solid punching power, vaunted body attacks and superior ring IQ. In over 47 fights, he has fought 294 total rounds, with 109 being world championship fights. His only weakness might be his chin, as he has been stopped three times in his career. He was halted by Juan Carlos Salgado in 2009, Antonio DeMarco in 2011 and Sergio Thompson in 2012. Linares simply comes to fight each time he steps in the ring and will be looking to punch his ticket for the Hall of Fame with a career-defining win over Lomachenko.
Betting the fight


The panel has spoken and is picking Lomachenko by a 9-1 margin (plus one pick for the over). As I have stated before, you won't make money laying huge numbers, and this is no different. I suspect Lomachenko will win, but I wouldn't lay -2000. I do see a bit of value in the price on Linares, as he will be the bigger man on Saturday night and has shown to be a tough, resilient champion. I think he makes it to the final bell in a fight closer than people might think.

Pick: Over 9.5 rounds -115
 
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