Linares edges Campbell to keep lightweight title

2:16 AM ET

In an extremely tight fight, Jorge Linares retained the lightweight world championship by split decision against Luke Campbell on Saturday night before 4,125 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

Two judges scored the fight for Linares, 115-112 and 114-113, while one had it 115-113 for Campbell. ESPN.com also scored the fight 115-112 for Linares, who scored a second-round knockdown. Without the knockdown, Linares still would have hung on to his title, but the result would have been a draw.

Linares (43-3, 27 KOs), 32, of Venezuela, who has also won world titles at featherweight and junior lightweight, retained his lightweight belt for the second time against Campbell (17-2, 14 KOs), the mandatory challenger from England and a 2012 Olympic gold medalist.

“I fought very well. I’m happy with the fight,” Linares said through an interpreter. “He’s a tough opponent. Many people said he was very easy, ‎but for some reason he’s an Olympic champion. Overall, I’m satisfied with my performance.”

Linares looked very sharp early. He appeared to outclass Campbell, a southpaw, in the first few rounds.

In the second round, Linares, whose hand speed advantage was very evident, landed a clean right hand to Campbell’s face to knock him down with about 30 seconds to go. The punch opened a nasty cut under Campbell’s right eye, though his corner did an outstanding job of keeping it closed for the rest of the fight.

“When I got him with the punch and he went down, I didn’t feel the power coming out of me,” Linares said.

Linares pushed Campbell, 29, back with right hands and looked in control until Campbell began to get back into the fight in the fourth round.

“At the fifth round I started to box him a little bit because I didn’t want to get hurt,” Linares said. “We had some trouble, but we came out on top. Trust me, I have a great connection with my team and with my trainer [Ismael Salas], so we worked hard and kept at it.”

Campbell had several good rounds in the middle of the fight, before Linares came back and fought the 12th round like he had the first three.


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