The War Report: Paint the Perfect Picture (Week 12, 2017)

Jorge Linares (WBA 135) | Photo credit: Lawrence Lustig / Matchroom Boxing

The biggest and brightest stage of the week took place in England this past Saturday, and British boxing fans witnessed “The Golden Child” paint the perfect picture on their canvas in the Manchester Arena.

Normally referred to as “El Niño de Oro” — Jorge Linares put together an exquisite display of boxing in the hometown of Anthony Crolla, and went on to defend the WBA lightweight title for the first time in their immediate rematch. It was in stark contrast to the competitive battle last September that took place in the same setting, and Linares was able to dominate with brilliant strokes of his left hand.

The Venezuelan initially used that lead hand as a gauge for distance in the opening rounds, but as soon as the third, his creativity was conveyed through it. Crolla (31–6–3, 13 KOs) couldn’t differentiate what kind of punch Linares was about to throw with that sinistral fist and the confusion left him motionless behind his guard for much of the fight. The portrayal of his left uppercut and hook were manifested in the same motion, and while Crolla could sense the punch coming, he didn’t have a clue as to where it would end up. By the midway point of the fight, Linares had already proved himself to be on another level than his counterpart, but in the seventh, a flourishing knockdown highlighted the fact.

Photo credit: Lawrence Lustig / Matchroom Boxing

Crolla, 30, didn’t see the left uppercut that connected perfectly on his chin, and he instantly dropped to his knees once it landed. He even seemed surprised to have found himself there all of the sudden, and on the Showtime telecast, those ringside cheering him on could be seen grasping their heads in anguish. To his credit, Crolla had perhaps his best round in the eighth, but by the ninth, Linares implemented a right hand that would hurt him once again to eventually weather him down for good. Joe Gallagher wanted to stop the fight after eleven full rounds, but Crolla’s pride was far too big for his trainer’s authority. Crolla went back out there and finished the fight for morality’s sake, or in other words, let Linares put the finishing touches of his latest painting.

Linares, 31, isn’t flawless by any means, but is a polished artisan of the sweet science. A nomad of the sport, Linares notched his eleventh straight win and has done so in five different countries. It’s likely his exhibit will return to the United States in his next bout, and hopefully it’s against someone with same kind of endowment.

Fight of the Week

Randy Caballero UD10 Jesus Ruiz (122) | March 23 — Indio, California

KO of the Week

Qudratilla Abduqaxorov TKO1 Charles Manyuchi (147) | March 25 — Singapore

Manyuchi (20–3–1, 12 KOs) carelessly tried an impression of “The Drunken Master” (Emmanuel Augustus) and got knocked out by a young Uzbek fighter on Saturday night in Singapore. Abduqaxorov (11–0, 8 KOs) didn’t let all the posturing distract him and he gave Manyuchi perhaps the biggest lesson of his life in the ring. Manyuchi, Masvingo, Zimbabwe, had realistic aspirations of heading to the United States with a win, but all that changed within three minutes.

Honorable mentions

Lawrence Okolie KO1 Geoffrey Cave (200) | March 25 — Manchester, England

Jhonny Gonzalez KO3 Francisco Contreras (130) | March 25 — Juarez, Mexico

Conrad Cummings TKO3 Gogi Knezevic (160) | March 25 — Manchester, England

Fighter of the Week

Jorge Linares (42–3, 27 KOs)

Photo credit: Lawrence Lustig / Matchroom Boxing

“I feel like I hadn’t fought,” Linares admitted after the fight. “I trained hard and felt in great condition. I am ready for the big fights in the U.S. and am very grateful for Oscar De La Hoya for making the trip to Manchester and being here with me for this fight against Anthony Crolla.”

Mikey Garcia, the current WBC lightweight title holder, was in studio during the Showtime telecast, and expressed his willingness to fight Linares in a unification bout. “First off, I congratulate Jorge Linares for a great win,” said Garcia. “His skill, flexibility, combinations and power were definitely impressive. I hope we can make a fight as soon as possible. He didn’t look cut or hurt so maybe we can fight this summer.”

That’s certainly a match-up between two virtuosos of the sport.

Honorable mention

Ed Bilbey

Bilbey, 17, collapsed to the canvas after an amateur bout Friday night in South Normanton, England, and was later pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital that night. There was only three rounds fought in what was described as a competitive fight with Tyler Rivers, but just as his arm was raised in victory, Bilbey collapsed. It took a moment for those there to realize Bilbey wasn’t showing an emotional moment in victory, and a spooky feeling must’ve overcome the room as a doctor there performed CPR in the middle of the ring. RIP Ed Bilbey.

Hostile Agent of the Week

Omar Narvaez (46–2–2, 24 KOs)

Narvaez never showed up to Puerto Rico this past weekend for his scheduled fight with Emmanuel Rodriguez — marking the fourth time in which the fight was nixed. Sanctioned by the IBF as a bantamweight eliminator, Rodriguez got a replacement opponent and sparked him out in one, but it won’t get him a shot at the IBF bantamweight title holder, Lee Haskins. Narvaez cited Visa issues as an excuse to get out of going to Rodriguez’s home island. The fight was first scheduled to take place in his home country of Argentina, but television issues thwarted that plan.

Results

From this past week (in order of weight class)

World title bouts

Tyron Zeuge TD5 Isaac Ekpo (WBA 168) | 48–47, 49–47, 46–46 (Fight cut short and sent to the cards after TZ suffered a cut from a head butt) | Zeuge defends the WBA super middleweight title for the 1st time

Tyron Zeuge (WBA 168) | Photo credit: Alexey Sukachev

Jorge Linares UD10 Anthony Crolla (WBA 135) | Linares defends the WBA lightweight title for the 1st time

“The Golden Boy” and The Golden Child” | Photo credit: Lawrence Lustig / Matchroom boxing

Notables

Lawrence Okolie KO1 Geoffrey Cave (200)

Jason Quigley UD10 Glen Tapia (160) | 100–90, 99–91, 98–92

Tureano Johnson KO2 Fabiano Peña (160)

Jack Arnfield UD12 Brian Rose (160) | 115–113, 115–113, 116–112

Conrad Cummings TKO3 Gogi Knezevic (160)

Jorge Paez Jr. RTD3 Daniel Sandoval (160)

Jason Welborn UD10 Marcus Morrison (160) | 96–93, 96–93, 97–92

Azizbek Abdugofurov UD10 Martin Fidel Rios | 98–92, 98–92, 97–93

Ray Robinson TKO7 Claudinei Lacerda (154)

Neeco Macias UD8 Cesar Soriano (154) | 78–73, 79–72, 80–71

Qudratilla Abduqaxorov TKO1 Charles Manyuchi (147)

Deniz Ilbay UD12 Angelo Frank (147) | No scores available

Mauricio Herrera UD8 Hector Velazquez (147) | 80–72, 80–72, 80–72

Josh Taylor TKO6 Warren Joubert (140)

Jhonny Gonzalez KO3 Francisco Contreras (130)

Martin Joseph Ward UD12 Maxi Hughes (130) | 116–112, 116–113, 118–111

Christopher Martin KO3 Daniel Franco (126)

Tramaine Williams UD8 Eduardo Garza (126) | 79–71, 79–71, 78–72

Emanuel Navarrete TKO1 Salvador Hernandez (126)

Randy Caballero UD10 Jesus Ruiz (122) | 96–94, 96–94, 97–93

Emmanuel Rodriguez TKO1 Robinson Lavinanza (118)

Nico Hernandez TKO4 Patrick Gutierrez (115)

Marlen Esparza UD4 Rachel Sazoff (112) | 40–36, 40–36, 40–36

Declarations of War

Fights made official this past week (in order of weight class)

Kubrat Pulev vs. Kevin Johnson (200+) | April 28 — Sofia, Bulgaria

Robert Helenius vs. Dereck Chisora (200+) | May 27 — Helsinki, Finland

Beibut Shumenov vs. Yunier Dorticos (200) | April 29 — Las Vegas, Nevada

Cedric Vitu vs. Marcello Matano (154) | May 18 — Paris, France | An IBF junior middleweight eliminator for a mandatory shot at their title holder, Jarrett Hurd.

Josesito Lopez vs. Saul Corral (154) | April 9 — Los Angeles, California | The main event of a PBC card televised on Fox Sports 1.

Terence Crawford vs. Felix Diaz (WBO/WBC 140) | May 20 — Newark, New Jersey | The main event of an HBO telecast.

Miguel Berchelt vs. Takashi Miura (WBC 130) | June 24 — Los Angeles, California | The main event of an HBO telecast.

Imminent conflicts

This week’s boxing schedule

Television (U.S.)

Tuesday, March 28th

Fox Sports 1 (9:00 PM ET / 6 PT) | Robinson Rancheria Resort & Casino — Nice, California

Leduan Barthelemy vs. Reynaldo Blanco (140)

Kyrone Davis vs. Mark Anthony Hernandez (154)

Malcolm McAlister vs. Alejandro Torres (160)

Saturday, April 1st

ESPN2 (11:00 PM ET / 8 PT) | The Cosmopolitan — Las Vegas, Nevada

Antonio Orozco vs. KeAndre Gibson (147)

Mercito Gesta vs. Gilberto Gonzalez (140)

Joet Gonzalez vs. Derrick Murray (126)

beIN Español (11:00 PM ET / 8 PT) | Monterey, Mexico

Cesar Juarez vs. TBA (130)

Notable fights not on TV (In order of weight class)

Friday, March 31st

David Papot vs. Dzmitry Atrokhau (160) | Saint-Nazaire, France

Mzuvukile Magwaca vs. Jason Canoy (118) | Cape Town, South Africa

Gideon Buthelezi vs. Anel Aviles (115) | Cape Town, South Africa

Saturday, April 1st

Mairis Briedis vs. Marco Huck (200) | Dortmund, Germany

Sefer Seferi vs. Marcelo Ferreira dos Santos (200) | Burgdorf, Switzerland

Tefik Bajrami vs. Diego Javier Sanabria (200) | Luzern, Switzerland

Luis Arias vs. Scott Sigmon (160) | Maplewood, Minnesota

Caleb Truax vs. Eric Draper (160) | Maplewood, Minnesota

Paulus Moses vs. Benoit Makangila Vela (135) | Windhoek, Namibia

Alberto Machado vs. Juan Jose Martinez (130) | Ponce, Puerto Rico

Sakaria Lucas vs. Oscar Chauke (126) | Windhoek, Namibia

Edgar Valerio vs. TBA (126) | Las Vegas, Nevada

Emilio Sanchez vs. TBA (122) | Las Vegas, Nevada

Toshiyuki Igarashi vs. Miguel Cartagena (112) | Tokyo, Japan