Jorge Linares needed every second of a hot start, including a critical second round knockdown, to fend off an extremely game Luke Campbell and retain his WBA Lightweight title, keeping hopes of a mega fight with Mikey Garcia alive. The tightly contested fight was decided by scores of 115-112 and 114-113 for Linares while Campbell was seen the winner on the third card with a score of 115-113. The Boxing Tribune scored the fight at ringside 114-113 for Linares.
Linares’ pedigree was on full display as he frequently beat Campbell to the punch, often forcing the former Olympian to the ropes with his superior speed and dominated the early half of the fight. Though it took Campbell a while, he began to pick up the pace in the fourth though he was still unable to catch Linares with anything meaningful.
The fight took an entirely turn after the sixth with a rapidly fatigued Linares taking increased punishment and showing no signs of life as Campbell began closing the gap. As the fight progressed, Campbell began landing the more efficient blows and Linares was unable to seemingly turn the tide. Once the fight went to the championship rounds, Linares tried to turn the fight back to his favor to no success. Campbell’s strong finish was ultimately not enough to make up for his poor start as the knockdown in the second was all Linares needed to retain his title for at least one more night.
A three-year reign as the WBA Lightweight champion has shown flashes of brilliance, but recent struggles against Campbell and a two-fight series against Anthony Crolla suggests that Linares may not have the tools to remain the division’s top fighter. It would be very hard to see him perform like he did tonight and come out with a win against Garcia or even Vasyl Lomachenko should he beat Guillermo Rigondeaux this December.
With the win, Linares improves to 43-3 and Campbell, sure to see his stock rise in light of the defeat, falls to 17-2.