Three-weight world champion Jorge Linares is familiar with fighting on British shores, having fought on the British side of the Atlantic on three occasions, with three victories to his name in the process.
Throw in a victory over Luke Campbell on American soil, three Britons (Kevin Mitchell & Anthony Crolla x 2) attempted to beat Linares and ultimately, three Britons were sent packing by the Venezuelan.
However, now 38 years old and returning to Britain this upcoming Saturday when he faces Jack Catterall in Liverpool, Linares feels that he is returning home to the UK, where he has a large fan base due to his performances against Campbell, Mitchell and Crolla.
“I’m so excited to be in the UK it’s my first time in Liverpool, but I have a lot of history in London and two times in Manchester,” Linares (47-8, 29 KO’s) told The Ring. “This time it’s a different opponent, different location, different ring, different fans. I’m so excited to be there.
“I think now I feel different because I feel like now I go back to my house, my town. I remember in 2015, when I fought Kevin Mitchell, it was a totally different feeling from now. When I fought Anthony Crolla two times in Manchester, it was totally different. I was more comfortable.”
Ultimately, Linares has a tough assignment when he faces a rejuvenated Catterall. Caterall. Jack, who signed with Matchroom Boxing earlier this year, had been hurting following delays and ultimately missing out on a lucrative rematch with Josh Taylor following their February 2022 affair in Glasgow, with Catterall on the receiving end of a very controversial decision defeat.
Linares is perfectly aware of the task at hand, believing Jack did enough to get the nod against Taylor, but is ultimately setting out his stall to show the boxing fraternity that he is back to his best.
“Catterall is an amazing southpaw. He’s had a lot of good fights in the past. I saw an amazing job he did with [then undisputed super-lightweight titleholder Josh] Taylor. I have a lot of experience, and i am super happy to fight in England. I’m feeling super good to show the people who I am, and I’m back in a good way.”
Linares does have a significant point to prove that he still has what he takes to feature at the top level, which his resume portrays. Three consecutive defeats against Devin Haney (May 2021, UD), Zaur Abdullaev ( February 2022, KO 12, despite leading on the scorecards) and a strangely scored encounter against Zhora Hamazaryan in December saw Linares drop a unanimous decision.
However, Linares took some time away from the sport while still keeping his eye on the lightweight and super-lightweight divisions. It was ultimately because of Jorge maintaining his interest in the competition around his weight category that he decided to return to the spotlight of championship-level boxing.
“I watched a lot of boxers at lightweight and junior welterweight, and I can see I have still have a lot of chances,” Linares said. “I’m happy, I’m focused, I’m training very well, like ten years ago. I can be a champion again if I want. It depends on me, my mentality, my motivation, the people around me. Now, I have the same feeling I had before when I was a champion. That’s why I’m back in the gym, why I’m back fighting again.
With a career which spans an incredible twenty-one years after making his debut as a professional aged seventeen, Linares feels that his age will not play a factor and insists that he train and perform like he was ten years ago in the gym in his prime years. Despite the optimism, Linares concedes that he may only have a maximum of two more fights left in him.
“No matter how old I am, I don’t care about that. My life is very healthy all the time. I take care of myself, I eat clean, very healthy. My life is very nice, very clean all the time. I’m back. I can do a better job than before, no matter if I lose three times, I don’t care about that.
“I have a lot of experience, I know I feel good, when I feel bad, that’s why I know when I lose. It’s another big opportunity to make an amazing fight and to win again and then fight a lot of big fights.
“I’m very honest with you, my team, my family, with my people, my target is to make a maximum two more fights and I want to retire with a good legacy.”
Despite his honesty, Linares is solely focused on defeating Catterall before evaluating the opportunities at both lightweight and super-lightweight in regard to his future in the short-medium term.
“I’m very focused on Catterall. That’s the most important thing. I don’t need to be thinking about the future and next year now I need to be focused on this fight on October 21,” he said.
“Win this fight, and then I can sit down, and all the opportunities can come naturally. There are a lot of good fighters at 135 and 140. I cannot think too much about who’s next. The important thing is right now. I’m super happy, focused, excited to make an amazing fight with Catterall.”
Win or lose, Linares will accomplish another ambition of his before his glamourous and entertaining career comes to an end, finally returning to England to the box under the lights once again.
“This was my dream for three years,” he said. “I was talking to my team and family, ‘I’m so excited to go back and fight in England.’ So imagine how I feel.
“I want to say thank you to all the people in the UK, thank you for the support, they like my style, they’re happy to see me again. I’m excited to be there and have a beautiful fight with Catterall.”