Linares faces Thompson on Saturday

This Saturday from the Oasis Hotel Complex in Cancun, Mexico, Jorge Linares 31-2 (20 KO) takes on Sergio Thompson 21-2 (19 KO) in a WBC lightweight title eliminator.

Linares has more to lose on Saturday night than just the fight, as a win sends him into a rematch with Antonio Demarco, who won a bloody battle with Linares last October.

Linares has long been considered a “can’t-miss” star in the sport. His blinding speed, solid power, and exceptional technique has had fans and media talking highly about the Venezuela native who has been residing in Tokyo, Japan. But despite the talent, each time Linares seemed on the brink of becoming a star, he suffered difficult setbacks that have had the same fans and media questioning his ability to rise to the top and, specifically, questioning if his chin will allow him to fulfill his potential.

Linares has fought the majority of his fights in Japan, including a victory over Oscar Larios in 2007 to win his first title, the WBC featherweight strap. He defended the title once before moving up to super featherweight where he won the WBA strap in 2008 with a fifth-round TKO over Whyber Garcia. After one defense, Linares suffered his first setback when he was shockingly knocked out at 1:13 of the first round against Juan Carlos Salgado in 2010.

Linares rebounded with four straight wins, including a ten round dominant decision of former title challenger Rocky Juarez. With Golden Boy handling his promotional reigns and world renowned trainer, Freddie Roach manning the corner, Linares was set up again for stardom co-headlining the Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson card against Antonio Demarco for the WBC lightweight title.

Linares dominated the majority of the fight with superior skills and speed, but the tough Demarco simply would not go away and found opportunity late in the fight. Demarco would begin landing punches and turning Linares’ face into a bloody mess in the middle to late rounds. Linares showed heart fighting through blood, but eventually Demarco landed more and more hard shots, sending Linares stumbling, unable to defend himself and forcing the fight to be stopped in Round 11. At the time of the stoppage, Linares was well ahead on the cards.

Now Linares wants a chance to redeem himself and finish what he started with Demarco. But first he battles Sergio Thompson of Cancun, Mexico. If Linares wins, he is already scheduled to rematch Demarco on July 7 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

Thompson sports a nice record and an 82 percentage KO ratio but it has been against average opposition at best. He has two losses with one coming against undefeated Alisher Rahimov in late 2010, who was 20-0 at the time. His other loss came in 2009 against Azael Gonzalez who was 6-10 at the time. Since the loss to Rahimov, Thompson has won seven straight, including avenging the loss to Gonzalez by seventh-round KO.

The WBC lightweight eliminator is scheduled for 12 rounds and will be televised on FOX Deportes.