Mancuso: Lightweights Huge For Garden

Vasyl Lomachenko to many is considered the pound-for pound best in boxing and could become  a three-time division champion Saturday night at Madison Square Garden and if he defeats lightweight champion Jorge Linares on the ESPN telecast that will be another accomplishment. “Loma” as he is known, which makes it easier to remember, is doing this in his 12th professional fight.

The quick rise at 30 years of age, and with Top Rank as the promoter, makes this 12-round championship fight for the WBA title a more compelling reason to say this is huge for boxing.  Floyd Mayweather Jr, has left the scene and the face of boxing, now Lomachenko with power and charisma, has an opportunity to take over.

Yeng Luciano

He has to overcome a stronger fighter. Linares, 32 years old from Venezuela is bigger and with more fights at 44-3, 27 KO’s, which never bothers Lomachenko.  The two-time Olympian from the Ukraine has the speed and reach and Linares, after two defeats is on this 13 fight win streak.

Yeng Luciano

However, streaks will not matter when they meet Saturday night. This is a anticipated fight of the year for a sport that is on a comeback.  It is in boxing standards a huge fight and with the ESPN platform of Deportes and Apps this could be another record breaker for the ratings. Madison Square Garden could see another epic fight if all goes to plan.

Bob Arum, the Hall of Fame promoter of Top Rank was smiling all week. He should and has every reason, because his long career has probably never seen a fighter like Lomachenko climb the ladder so quick in the rankings and at the box office.

“It’s a challenge, but that’s what makes a fighter one of the all-time greats,” said Arum. “He was great at 126. He devastated probably everybody at 130, Now, he’s moving up to 135, and people say, ‘Is this a bridge too far?’”

Perhaps this Lomachenko bridge is as long as the span called George Washington that leads you right to the Garden from the outskirts of New York City.  This fighter has a magnitude to draw and in boxing that also means appeal in the ring to finish off opponents. Arum had fighters over the years, Hagler, Hearns, Duran, de la hoya, all with that appeal.

Now, and at Madison Square Garden, there is a fighter destined to become more of an impact in the sport.

“The way this bout is going to go, who knows,” says Lomachenko. “It’s boxing. It’s going to be a fight, and after that , we’re going to see.” ESPN and Arum know what they can see long range and this is more of that appeal and lucrative opportunities.

Assuming Linares does not pull off the upset, he is the underdog, with some seeing this fight going his way, Lomachenko becomes a bigger star.  Or it could go to the judges and be that close decision, either way this is a huge fight for boxing and in the end that’s what matters

ADAMES: DOMINICAN FIGHTER WITH APPEAL: The co-feature Saturday night at the Garden and on ESPN will feature undefeated Carlos Adames, 13-0, 11 KO’s) the 24-year old Dominican Republic fighter that Top Rank envisions as a potential superstar. Though unknown here, Adames did fight three times in New York but this is Madison Square Garden.

Yang Luciano

Now they have Adames. He has that appeal with fans because he can punch and dispose opponents, and there is that Dominican pride and a market for a Dominican fighter  with stardom in New York City.

Said Adames this week, with the assistance of an interpreter, “I’m expecting support from my people. I am not just any Dominican fighter. I’m going to fly the flag high and represent my people. To me it’s an honor being at this type of event. This is an opportunity for a big step in my career.”

Last year he also was a sparring partner with former undisputed junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford who moved up to 147, another Top Rank fighter and always in discussion as possibly the best pound-for-pound.

The task Saturday night is taking on 31-year old Mexican Alejandro Barrera, a veteran at 29-4 with 18 KO’s.

MATCHROOM AND A BILLION: More signs that boxing is on a comeback and MatchRoom Boxing with Perform Group announced a landmark $1 billion joint venture of eight years and 16 fight shows to start with prime fighters in the sport at venues in America and in the United Kingdom.

And with a venture like this, Eddie Hearn, Managing Director of Matchroom and promoter of heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua,has struck gold with Perform the outlet providing the live streams on-demand. DAZN is the exclusive United States broadcasting partner.

Yang Luciano

Joshua may not be the headline fighter, though he could eventually. His fights and an eventual one with Deontay Wilder to unify the heavyweight titles are televised on Showtime Boxing, but Hearn with this lucrative deal could eventually change the face of how boxing is done.

Perhaps this is similar to the ESPN platform of boxing and how they do live streams and telecasts, and Hearn with the financial power will be able to get the mega fights and sign the elite fighters that will make this a success as this is the most lucrative deal the sport has seen when it comes to promoting and partnership with a digital platform.

Hearn, in other words will have the competition taking a look and aware what is going on.  That means the PBC group and their financial backing, Golden Boy Promotions under de la hoya, and Top Rank can see a competitive war and that only means more boxing and competitive fights for the fans.

MatchRoom Boxing has sold over one million tickets to fights in the last five years and has attracted sell-outs of 90,000 fans in the UK.

One source at the elaborate gathering Thursday afternoon, and on the rooftop at the Loft & Garden in Rockefeller Center said, “The days of pay-per-view and boxing are gone. This is ground breaking.”

Now it is a question of the venues and the fighters that Hearn will sign to deals. You can bet that with this money in place there will be no issue securing the big names and venues, including Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn where MatchRoom Boxing has held several events.

“America, we have well and and truly arrived,” said Hearn. “Let the fun begin. He said that the plan is to make DAZN the home of boxing and 32 fights certainly has this venture off to a good start.

Will this last and for how long?  Well, with a billion dollar deal there is plenty of room for this being a success and more boxing does mean the sport is no longer in a decline.

Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected]  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

Get connected with us on Social Media