Jorge "Golden Boy" Linares, a former featherweight titlist who has since moved up and won a title at 130 pounds, signed with Golden Boy Promotions this weekend. HBO's Jim Lampley reported the signing last night during the Mayweather-Marquez broadcast, one that Golden Boy is very excited about, according to Dan Rafael.
"He's a special fighter," De La Hoya said in making the announcement at a morning news conference in the Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez media center at the MGM Grand.
"Anyone who has seen Jorge Linares fight knows that he is one of the best fighters in the world, pound-for-pound," De La Hoya said. "Unfortunately, too many people here in the Untied States haven't seen him fight, but we're going to change that and Jorge will finally get the attention and the big fights he deserves."
Oscar is overdoing the pound-for-pound thing, which you'd think he'd have learned from after hyping Victor Ortiz the exact same way. Ortiz is currently on some kind of sabbatical after taking a beating from little-known Marcos Maidana in June. But Oscar has a pretty deep habit of doing things like this with the young fighters Golden Boy grabs.
Linares (27-0, 18 KO) is one of many Venezuelans who has found a home fighting in Japan, promoted as Edwin Valero was by Teiken Boxing, the biggest promoter in Japanese boxing. Valero signed with Top Rank Promotions this year but has been a headache more than a rising star. Linares has had some injury issues since demolishing Oscar Larios in the summer of 2007, fighting just three times since then, but as far as anyone knows, he's healthy and ready to make himself a star.
And he does have legitimate star potential. It's a great signing for Golden Boy, bolstering their roster at a time when they really need to do just that. Oscar de la Hoya is retired, Bernard Hopkins is almost 45 years old, Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez are (like Hopkins) still top fighters but (like Hopkins) in the twilight of their careers. Victor Ortiz was supposed to be the company's next big star, but now that looks unlikely. Linares may well grab that ring, though like Ortiz, you'd be getting ahead of yourself expecting it.
Linares currently has a fight lined up for October 10 in Japan, defending his WBA junior lightweight title against undefeated Juan Carlos Salgado (20-0-1, 14 KO), who you may remember as a time-filler on the Pacquiao-Morales III undercard, beating Marcos Licona. He hasn't really stepped up any in competition over the last three years, and it should be a win for Linares.
Working with Golden Boy, it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect a fight between Linares and fellow 130-pound titleholder Robert Guerrero, which could be a hell of a good fight, sometime in 2010.