The Associated PressNEW YORK (AP) — Vasiliy Lomachenko had been down on the canvas and was even on the scorecards.
The tough test Lomachenko craved, the one he said would force him to finally unleash all his skills, had finally arrived.
Moments later, he ended it.
Lomachenko stopped Jorge Linares in the 10th round of their lightweight championship fight Saturday night, winning a title in his third weight class in just his 12th pro bout.
Lomachenko landed a hard left to the body during a flurry of precision punches that sent Linares to a knee. Linares finally got up just as the count was reaching 10 but referee Ricky Gonzalez called an end to the fight at 2:08 of the round.
“I prepared for the last few rounds, and my father told me, ‘You need to go to the body,’” Lomachenko said. His father, Anatoly Lomachenko, is his trainer.
Linares knocked down Lomachenko in the sixth and the fight was all even after nine rounds before Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) put an overpowering end to his first fight at 135 pounds, adding that title to his belts at 126 and 130 pounds.
Linares (44-4, 27 KOs) hadn’t lost since 2012 and used his size advantage to do some damage, but in the end Lomachenko did more in an exciting Madison Square Garden match.
Each fighter was ahead 86-84 on a judge’s card, while Julie Lederman had it 85-all after nine rounds.
“The fight was getting interesting,” Linares said. “It was very close, but he did surprise me with that body shot. I wanted to continue. I wanted to keep working, but the ref stopped the fight.”