Jorge Linares retained the RING Magazine and WBA lightweight titles tonight at The Forum in Inglewood, California, overcoming a very strong challenge from 2012 Olympic gold medalist Luke Campbell.
Linares (43-3, 27 KO) won on split decision scores of 114-113, 115-112, and 113-115. Campbell drops to 17-2 (14 KO), but leaves with nothing at all to be ashamed of, as he gave Linares a hell of a fight.
BLH was split, too, with Patrick L. Stumberg scoring it for 114-113 for Campbell, while I had it 115-112 for Linares.
Linares, 32, dropped Campbell in the second round, but Campbell didn’t fold, and fought his way into some level of control, even, in the middle rounds. But the 29-year-old Campbell couldn’t hold Linares off forever, as the Venezuelan made a strong charge down the stretch of the fight, closing especially strong in the final two frames.
In the end, the second round knockdown essentially won Linares the fight. Without it, this would have been a split draw, with the 114-113 Linares card becoming even. But it was a clean, good knockdown off a beautiful combo, and it counted.
“He’s a tough opponent. A lot of people said he would be very easy, but he’s an Olympic champion,” Linares said after the fight. “I fought very well. I think after the fifth round, I started to box him a little bit, because I didn’t want to get hurt.”
On his strong close in the final rounds, Linares said, “It shows we have a great connection with my trainer. I wnated to knock him out, but I knew it was going to go the distance. From the 10th on out, I let the dogs out.”
Linares also said he wants to face Mikey Garcia next, even saying he’d go to 140 for the fight.
“No one can ever doubt my heart. I got off to a rocky start, he hit me with a nice, clean shot in the second round, and cut me,” Campbell said. “It was a nice shot that put me on my back. From then, I had double vision in one eye. From then I fought, I outclassed him. He’s a great champion, but I thought I outclassed him.”
Linares landed 140 of 414 (34%) total punches, compared to 141 of 524 (27%) for Campbell. Campbell had the edge in power shots, largely on body work, outlanding Linares 97-76.