The 32-year-old Venezuelan wizard will face off with Vasyl Lomachenko (10-1) on May 12 at the iconic Madison Square Garden in New York.
Linares (44-3) puts his WBA World lightweight title on the line in what can only be described as an intruiging battle between two of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
'Hi-Tech' Lomachenko, 30, won his first world title at featherweight in just his third professional fight following an amateur career that was far and above the best the world has ever seen. Already a two-weight champ, the southpaw, widely regarded as the best in the world - some even going further to claim he could be the best ever - is now looking to become a 'Triple Champion' against the 'Golden Boy'.
In preparation for the mega-fight, the globe-trotting Linares, who lives in Tokyo, came to the UK to spar some 30-rounds with a talented, young, ambitious prospect who would serve as an energetic, flashy and speedy opponent like his forthcoming foe. The name Alfie Price would not be recognised by very many now, but Linares's choice of sparring partner should speak volumes about the 24-year-old from Hoddesdon's ability.
BBN caught up with Alfie to gain his first-hand view of Linares and also get his expert prediction for May 12:
Alfie, thanks for taking the time to speak to British Boxing News, tell us when did you first spar Jorge linares?
“Well, I have sparred with Jorge a few times now, we have shared about 30-rounds together, but the first time we sparred was when he was six-weeks out to his fight with Luke Campbell, around August last year - that was the first time we got in the ring.”
Tell us about your experience sparring with the world champion?
“Initially, his strength and speed stood out most for me. We had great sessions, he is quick and throws strong punches, during the rounds he would catch me with a good shot and I would acknowledge this but also when I caught him he would do the same, to be honest it was quite 50 – 50 between us.
So, yes, it was a great experience and following sessions he would give me feedback on my techniques and tricks, which I have since taken on board; there were quite a few things that were really positive for me.”
We've all seen his superior fitness, skill and footwork - just how good is it?
“It's all to see in his fights, but speaking from my experience, he is incredibly fit, he can produce 12-rounds with a high work-rate, straight off the bat.
As the rounds went on, it felt like he was getting better, his skill would develop as the sparring went on, he is a clever fighter and he works out opponents quickly, something I feel I also do.
With regards to his movement, it was world class, in and out of range, very sharp on his feet and good balance when switching from offense to defence.”
Are there any key factors that you believe will trouble Lomachenko?
“It’s hard to say, the size advantage, height and reach are superior to Lomachenko, but he will have to use these very effectively to allow them to become a key factor.
Linares has also got great boxing skill, good ringcraft and sets traps; he will have to be at his sharpest to set traps for Lomachenko, we know how effective Linares's counter- punching is so he might use this to try to catch Lomachenko.
It’s a clash of styles, it will be a great technical fight, they will be very wary of each other's footwork; again, Linares's quick feet, going in and out of range, he’s just a great all-round fighter.”
How do you think the fight will go?
“It’s such a hard fight to call for me, I would like to see Linares win because I have sparred with him but I am also Lomachenko fan and he is a great fighter.
It will be a fight for the purists, I don’t think it will be an explosive encounter but a good fight, no doubt.
I predict a cagey first half of the fight and later on some classy exchanges with Lomachenko winning overall on the judges' scorecards.”