This weekend sees a truly mouth-watering clash take place between the irrepressible Vasyl Lomachenko and the sublimely skilled Jorge Linares. The fight will be taking place in the mecca of boxing Madison Square Garden in front of what is due to be a sold-out crowd. This clash will pit the worlds undisputed best lightweight against the worlds undisputed junior lightweight, this truly is a fight fans dream match up.

Vasyl Lomachenko is 30 years old and comes into the fight with a record of 10-1 but do not let the meagre amount of contest fool you. This is a man that was a double Olympic gold medallist boasting an amateur record of 396 wins with only a single defeat. The pedigree cannot get much higher. Lomachenko is already a two-division world champion as a professional and attempts to take his 3rd divisional crown in the clash with Linares. Much was made of Lomachenko sole defeat at the hands of the rugged veteran Orlando Salido. Perhaps he would need longer to adjust to the rigours of professional boxing than first anticipated? This has since been proven to be a fallacy as “Loma” has dominated every single man that has been in a ring with him since, including fellow double Olympic gold medallist Guillermo Rigondeaux. Should Lomachenko take down Linares, then surely his career is hall of fame worth…within 12 fights, breath-taking!

The man armed with the task of defending his title against the mercurial talent is Jorge Linares, a 32-year-old champion who is currently riding a 6-year undefeated streak. Linares has proven to be a road warrior of recent years and has fully shaken the “air of vulnerability” that was for so long attached to him. Although Linares doesn’t have the amateur credentials to stack up against “Loma”, his skills are a sight to behold. Linares will enjoy an inch advantage in height & a more favourable 4-inch reach advantage. As is always the case when a fighter moves up in weight, the size could be a determining factor.

Anyone who is a true fight fan should be tuning in to watch this showdown this weekend. Two of the very best talents in the sport, the undisputed best in their respective divisions going at it. What more could fight fan want? As far as a prediction goes…I am predicting Lomachenko to put a stamp on his hall of fame career and take down Linares. I cannot see the size being a determining factor, mainly due to “Loma’s” mesmerising ability to move his feet and create insane punching angles.  For all his skill, craft and finesse, Linares has proven to be a fighter that is not too difficult to hit in the heat of battle and I feel this may be his undoing in this contest.

I’m going for a Lomachenko victory via unanimous decision, scores of 118-112 would not surprise me. One thing is for sure, we are going to be treated to pugilism of the highest order.

 

The noise was sharp. It penetrated my ears like a sharp jab splitting the guard. Cruising down the Vegas strip in the Lamborghini was quickly fading. I was waking up. The noise, my alarm, telling me that once again its time to get up, its time to get dressed, its time to hit the roads. Camp is back in session.

I am now back in full training for what will be my second outing of the year and professional contest number 15. I will be competing on Saturday April 28th at the famous and historic York Hall in Bethnal Green. Being from East London myself, York Hall has always held a special place in my heart and I’ve loved every time I have got to compete there. There is something about the balcony seats being just above the ring that gives you an almost roman amphitheatre feeling. The energy and atmosphere in there is electric and I look forward to once again stepping into the auditorium.

I am happy with the people and team that I have around me now. Everyone is pulling in the same direction and striving to get me in a title winning position. Its one thing to compete for a title but its another one entirely to be brought along at the right measure to win one. I feel I have the right people in place and we are all working towards this goal now.

The first initial weeks of training involves what I like to call the “donkey work”. This is the intro to the upcoming grind. Long runs, long sessions, lots of rounds on the bag, lots of groundwork. This is where you build your base fitness and conditioning, this gives you the platform to be able to go forward and up the intensity as the weeks go on. Its not about pushing at a high intensity right now, its just about building that rock-solid foundation. I love this type of training and have no problem performing it. I keep to this kind of training year-round, whether I have a fight scheduled or not. This is where my “Embrace the Grind” mantra comes in. I am always at perhaps 70% capacity, so it doesn’t take me long to ramp up the intensity to get ready to compete. This allows me not only to be able to take fights at shorter notice should an opportunity arise, but it also allows for injury prevention and ultimately longevity. Many great fighters of yesteryear lived by the philosophy “if you stay ready, you never have to get ready” and I am a big believer in that. Nothing is new under the sun; the blueprints have been laid out. The smartest people will look not only for inspiration from people that have been before them and done things they wish to do, but they will also look at what enabled them to do it and what things they can take and implement for themselves.

So that’s where I am at right now. Long days, long sessions, hard work but as a certain fistic icon famously said, “all work is easy work”. Or if that pugilist doesn’t float your boat a more beloved one said, “suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion”.

 

This Friday sees a domestic fighter add his name to the pantheon of British Boxing road warriors. I would forgive you for not knowing, it has gone completely under the radar. Friday March 16th at the Melbourne pavilion in Australia sees Tewkesbury’s own Adam Harper 8-0 travel across the globe to compete against Pacific IBF champion Michael Zarefa for the converted vacant commonwealth title.

Some may remember Harper for his last outing, a swashbuckling win on a Sky Sports Matchroom show against the heavily favoured Ryan Kelly for the midlands super welterweight title. Harper and Kelly engaged in a fan friendly toe to toe battle which had them on some shortlists for FOTY. On that occasion Harper’s marauding style saw him a points victor becoming Tewkesbury’s first midlands champion. The fight, the performance, on that kind of platform is normally the springboard to bigger things and more exposure. This hasn’t been the case for Adam who has been inactive since that win over 10 months ago. He now finds himself on the other side of the world, taking on a local favourite in his back yard. A man that has operated at a higher weight class, a man that has mixed I higher company.

The fight between Harper and Zarefa has come about due to injury to Harper’s original opponent, Former commonwealth champion Anthony Buttigieg. With both guys in full flow in camp an injury to “Butterz” once again looked to postpone the bout (Anthony had pulled out of a previous scheduled contest between the two due to an injury during camp). Adam was then approached with an alternative opponent (Zarefa, who was in camp for a fight and sparring with “Butterz” anyway) and the opportunity for the fight to go ahead for the vacant title. Not one to shy away from the opportunity Harper is intending to take it with both hands.
What is puzzling to me is how a domestic fighter, coming off the back of his most high-profile win, is travelling to the other side of the world to take on an opponent in their back yard for a recognised title and nobody knows. You would be hard pressed to find any articles, videos or interviews on this contest. After speaking to Adam Harper myself he has let me know this is not a case of him wanting to be isolated or fly under the radar. “To be honest mate, I don’t have a clue why no one wants to cover me. I’ve reached out to various online publications, but no one has bothered to message me back. It seems like if its not a Matchroom or Boxnation show then no one cares” said Harper during a Facetime call. Is this an indication of where we are at as fans right now? Is he right? We only care if it’s the glitz and lights of the Matchroom or Boxnation cards? I for one will be keeping an eye out for this contest and its result. To me Adam is embodying the spirit of the old school fighter “anyone, anywhere, anytime”. As an active boxer I draw inspiration and as a fan I feel admiration, so from all of us hard core supporters LETS GO CHAMP! BRING THAT BELT HOME!