Former three-division titleholder Jorge Linares looked sharp and strong in a proper return to 135 pounds tonight, icing the durable and crafty veteran Carlos Morales in the fourth round to set up a possible big fight this summer with popular prospect Ryan Garcia.
Linares (47-5, 29 KO) felt Morales (19-5-4, 8 KO) out in the first round, and the Venezuelan veteran also suffered another cut early due to a clash of heads. But Linares looked sharper in the second, then dropped the 30-year-old Morales hard on a vicious short right hand in the third.
Morales was able to get up, but the 34-year-old Linares was just too fast and too crisp, drilling Morales and dropping him again in the fourth, where referee Thomas Taylor counted the underdog out.
Morales is by no means an elite, world-level fighter, but he’d never been stopped before this and has been tough in a lot of bouts, win, lose, or draw. Linares just outclassed him and took him apart in short order here, showing that he’s still got plenty left and that he remains dangerous at lightweight.
“I can demonstrate even more than that,” Linares said through a translator. “I’m ready for the best boxers right now. I’m back at 135 pounds. My brother is now my trainer, and now I’m ready to show my best. I’m better than ever in my career right now.”
Linares beamed when asked about potentially fighting Ryan Garcia, who is up next against Francisco Fonseca, and confirmed he’ll be ready by May or June. Golden Boy have the Staples Center in Los Angeles reserved for July for that fight.
We’ll see whether or not that fight actually happens — Garcia has to win, to start — but it’s a fascinating idea, a highly-skilled but always vulnerable veteran against a skilled, fresh young fighter who has never been tested against an opponent near Linares’ level.