Jorge Linares will return to the ring on March 31 in Cancun, Mexico, facing Sergio Thompson in a tune-up bout meant to lead him into a rematch with Antonio DeMarco.
Linares (31-2, 20 KO) has yet to get over the hump as a pro, really, despite the fact that he's won titles at featherweight and super featherweight. You know, when you look at things like that and Robert Guerrero having won titles at 126 and 130 (and he claims interim belts at 135) as well -- no offense to either of them, because they're very talented fighters, but it sure doesn't seem like those are "two division world champions," does it? I think that goes a long way toward explaining why so many boxing fans aren't impressed every time the promoters tout someone as an "(x) division world champion," because at this point everyone's winning "the world championship" in multiple weight classes.
Anyway, Linares, 26, is coming off of a loss to DeMarco, where he was hunted down in the 10th round and beaten to a bloody pulp before being stopped by referee Raul Caiz Sr in one of 2011's most dramatic endings -- really, maybe the most dramatic ending of the year.
He's a fabulously talented fighter. Sometimes the HBO crew falls in love with a fighter to the point of delirium (for us and them), but when you watch Linares when he's in control of a fight, it's so easy to see why. He's smooth, he's natural, he's just an exceptionally gifted boxer.
But he doesn't deal with pressure very well and his chin isn't great. He's fatally flawed, if you can get to the weakness.
Thompson (21-2, 19 KO) has an impressive looking record until you actually look at it and realize he's never beaten anyone of substance, but you don't get 19 KOs in 21 wins without being able to punch a little, and punching a little can be bad news for Linares.
Should Linares win as he's expected to, he'll get another shot at the WBC lightweight title, currently held by DeMarco. DeMarco is next in action on March 17 against undersized gatekeeper Miguel Roman.