Venezuelan fighters Carlos (CCC) Cañizales and Jorge ” The Golden Boy” Linares will be in action on Friday and Saturday, respectively, with the former defending his World Boxing Association regular Light Flyweight belt (48.990 kilograms) at the emblematic Arena Mexico, in Mexico City; and the other in a tough and crucial fight that could mark his farewell from boxing or perhaps the road back to the top, where he will attempt to earn the World Boxing Council Lightweight crown (135 lbs. or 61,237 ks). Both fights may well be two-sided coins, which we will explain in the following lines.
LINARES AT A CROSSROADS
For hierarchical reasons or notoriety, we must talk about Linares, who will fight American Devin Haney on Saturday, the undefeated lightweight king of the WBC, at the majestic Michelob Ultra Arena of the Mandalay Bay & Casino south of Las Vegas, Nevada, with a capacity of 12,000 people.
It is a must to talk about Linares first, again, because Jorge Linares, three times world champion at featherweight, super featherweight, and lightweight, is a name of great prestige in the world of the 16 ropes. Today, at 35 years old and with a record of 47 wins, 5 losses by KO and 29 KOs to his credit, the Venezuelan born in Barinas, a state in western Venezuela, is a familiar figure for the universal fans of the discipline, where he began to be noticed from an early age, as an entertainer in a couple of editions of the “KO Drugs” program created by the late WBA President, Gilberto Mendoza senior.
In fact, Linares always had the support of the President Emeritus of the World Boxing Association, an organization he led from 1982-2015, when he was succeeded by his son, Gilberto Mendoza Jr. The person writing this piece remembers that more than 20 years ago, in a WBA Convention held in Panama, Linares was a relevant figure in the KO Drugs program. On that occasion, Gilberto Mendoza confided to me that the youngster would become a top-level boxing figure, as indeed he did a few years later. Linares made his professional debut on December 15th, 2002 and knocked out South Korea’s Kyon Soo Chung. This marked the starting point of a brilliant career, which culminated with the conquest of the WBC and WBA Featherweight, Super Featherweight and Lightweight titles, as we mentioned before.
Since then it has rained profusely. Nowadays, the Venezuelan, after a couple of frustrations against Vasyl Lomachenko and Pablo Cano (both lost by KO), struggles to return to the top, which he will try to do on Saturday in his fight, for many a decisive fight for his future, against a respected puncher and a rising star in the sport, a 22-year-old boxer, thirteen years younger than the WBC contender. In his most recent bout, which was his second defense on November 7th last year, he defeated Cuba’s Yuriorkis Gamboa, a former world champion in the category, without any setbacks.
The Venezuelan has been inactive since February of last year, when he defeated Mexican-American Carlos Morales in 9 rounds. The generality of the experts consider the champion to be the favorite, because he is an aggressive fighter, with a strong punch, as his record shows. Those same experts estimate that a setback for Linares will finally take him away from the ring. However, Linares will certainly put his heart in the ring and it will not be easy for Haney to get rid of him.
CAÑIZALES WITH WIND IN HIS FAVOR
In theory, Cañizales goes into a match with advantage in his favor. He will fight Mexican Esteban Bermudez Salas, a name that does not sound at all. For the 28-year-old Caracas native, 6 of them in the professional field in which he adds a record of 22 wins with 0 losses and 17 KOs, the fight will be the third defense of the belt he conquered on March 18th, 2018 with a points win over home fighter Reiya Kunioshi in Kobe, Japan, and defended against Bin Lu by TKO12 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on July 15th, 2018 and then against Sho Kimura by UD on May 26th, 2019 in Fuzhou, People’s Republic of China, more than 730 days ago. In his first title shot in December almost five years ago now, Triple C (Carlos Cañizales Civira) drew with Riochi Tagushi in Ota, Japan.
Mexican challenger Esteban Bermudez Salas has a record of 13 wins with 3 losses -one by KO-, 2 draws, and 9 wins before the limit. For those in the know, the Venezuelan is a big favorite and it is believed that he should win by one of the two possible ways, although Bermudez will have the support of the majority of the spectators in the old venue that has a capacity for 37 thousand people (it is not expected to be full) and which is called “The Cathedral of Wrestling”.