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Jorge Linares vows to continue his career after shock first-round loss to Pablo Cesar Cano

Pablo Cesar Cano of Mexico punches Jorge Linares of Venezuela during their junior welterweight fight at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on January 18, 2019 in New York City. Photo credit: Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

Former world champion Jorge Linares 45-5 (28) will not be hanging up the gloves after his shock defeat to Pablo Cesar Cano 32-7-1 (22) at Madison Square Garden this past Friday night.

The 50-fight veteran was shockingly knocked to the canvas three times in the opening frame of his scheduled 12-round bout against the largely unheralded Mexican before referee Ricky Gonzalez waved off the contest at the 2:48 mark.

Getting knocked out early isn’t anything new for the 33-year-old Venezuelan slickster. In October 2009 Linares was knocked out in a single round by Juan Carlos Salgado and three years later Sergio Thompson did a number on him in two stanzas.

Despite the devastating nature of these losses, Linares refused to retire. After 13 straight victories that included wins on the road against Kevin Mitchell and Anthony Crolla twice – picking up the WBC and WBA lightweight titles along the way – Linares secured a high-profile bout against pound-for-pound level fighter Vasyl Lomachenko 12-1 (9).

As an indication of how far Linares had come, he was seen by many as arguably the toughest test of Lomachenko’s stellar career. It took the superbly talented Ukrainian southpaw 10-rounds to get on top of Linares, who was very much in the fight up until the time of the stoppage.

Two fights later he was reduced to rubble by junior welterweight Cano, who had lost three of his previous five bouts.

In the aftermath of his loss, Linares – who has held world titles at 126-, 130- and 135-pounds – noted the difference the extra weight made in the fight.

“Five pounds is so different,” Linares said in the post-fight interview.

Golden Boy Promotions matchmaker Roberto Diaz heaped praise on Linares for moving up in weight and daring to be great in an interview with ESPN.

“I give all credit to Jorge; he took the challenge in a new division, was looking to fight the best there. It didn’t work out that way,” Diaz said.

And just like he did in 2012, Linares is preparing to bounce back – just not at 140-pounds.

“One hundred percent,” said his manager Jose De La Cruz to ESPN. “I talked to [Jorge] privately at the house and even in the locker room, and he said, ‘This is just not my weight class; I can’t fight against a guy who’s 159 [pounds] and I’m 151.’ We tried, we couldn’t do it, we move on.”

De La Cruz is confident that there are still big fights out there for Linares.

“He wants to fight big fights, and obviously we tried the new weight class, it didn’t work,” he said.

“There’s still potential fights with [Luke] Campbell [a rematch]. If the Lomachenko-Crolla fight doesn’t happen, then maybe we go back to Crolla.”