By Alex Nuñez
Photos: Lester Silva
WBA lightweight champion and WBC diamond champion Jorge “The Golden Boy” Linares (42-3, 27 KOs) talks about his fight against British challenger Luke Campbell (17-1, 14 KOs) on Saturday at The Forum, in Inglewood, California, which will be broadcast live on HBO. Linares, a three-division champion, originally from Barinas, Venezuela, has fought in Japan and the United Kingdom.
However, he will fight in the United States for the first time in three years, his last fight was six months ago with his second victory over British Anthony “Million Dollar” Crolla in his hometown of Manchester, England.
Campbell, WBC Lightweight Silver Champion and gold medal winner at the 2012 London Olympics, has defeated five strong contenders, including Darleys Perez, Derry Matthews, and Argenis Méndez.
In an exclusive interview with Frases de Boxeo (fdbplus.com) Jorge Linares talks about his preparation for this fight, his opponent and future plans in his career:
Are you prepared for Campbell, a young but hungry fighter?
“As you say, Campbell is a young fighter with good boxing, who brings a good amateur resume, where he was the Olympic Champion in London 2012, brings hunger to be a champion, so we made an excellent camp, we never underestimate an opponent, and less this young man. ”
Is there something in particular that worries you about Campbell?
“He’s a left-handed fighter, who is always uncomfortable and can complicate the fight and I have not faced any in my last fights, but we have done a good job in that sense. Very complete, my coach Salas and the team composed by the former world champion Joel Casamayor and Jorge Capetillo, have drawn up a training plan and strategy for this match, which makes me calm and confident of victory.”
Your commitment to this weight these days?
“Very well as you could see, at the end of my training I have several days to work on two pounds, something very important, not having to go down so much on the weighing day, preserving my physical condition to full capacity, something we always try to do.”
As champion you’ve fought a lot in Japan and the UK, now you’re going to be in the USA after a while, and the Forum in Los Angeles has been the scene of big events, how you feel about fighting there?
“Very happy, I think every boxer would feel very flattered to fight in the Forum, to be part of that story that has been written in that arena, and where they have gloved up great legends of boxing.”
Taking advantage of the presence of Lic. Ismael Salas, head coach of Linares, he could not miss adding a few words, his opinion of Campbell and state of Linares.
“Linares is a boy who never has a problem for a camp prior to his fight, his discipline, focus, strong mentally, quickly assimilate the plans, strategy and changes, that are made to face his opponent, we have to add all this to his boxing qualities, something that combining in its totality, makes of the work performed we have the results obtained. As you can see already a week from the fight he’s on weight.”
Coach, there is something peculiar in this fight. The two corners are Cuban coaches. Could there be some difference in the expected result?
“Look, two Cuban coaches will face their wards in a fight, it could be said that is very common, from the national in Cuba, in Central American, Pan American, World Championships and Olympics, Cuban coaches are in opposite corners. Professional boxing is not a notorious thing that happens. Each of us is going to do his work, coming to win, he with his pupil and I with mine, like two professionals that we are. I have a lot of respect for Professor Jorge Rubio, well known in boxing. One is going to win, but that will not influence the warmth of anybody or the respect that we have, as well as in our friendship. I know he did a good job with Campbell.”
Coach Salas, how do you see Campbell for this fight?
“Campbell is a young fighter, with good physique, technique and very good boxing. An undefeated professional and Olympic Champion in London 2012, who like every young man is hungry to be a champion. Despite his youth, we can not underestimate him. With the direction of Professor Rubio we have seen advances. It will be a great fight that these two boys give to the fans of the Forum that day. Boxing will win that night.”
Returning to Linares, the champ tells us about a possible confrontation with Mikey Garcia.
“A fight with Garcia is our plan after we come out with our arm raised this Saturday. We both agreed to face each other. We are the top in the division. We both want to see each other face to face with the best — and we are the best. I think that could happen for next year, but if that is what we most want, it would be something that everyone wants to happen.”
Champ, we’re waiting for fight night. What do you have to tell your fans?
“Expect a big fight, a fight where the fans win and boxing, a great fight that deserves to be at The Forum of Los Angeles. I thank everyone for the support they have given me, taken the trouble to come and give me the opportunity, knowing how busy they are these days, to my team. Tell everyone not to miss this bout next Saturday to be broadcast on HBO. Thanks once more!”
At the closing of this, Jorge Linares and his team were in Los Angeles, for the final preparations of the event.