Vasyl Lomachenko punches a bag during an open workout in Manhattan, New York on Wednesday. Photo: AP Photo/Kathy Willens
Vasyl Lomachenko punches a bag during an open workout in Manhattan, New York on Wednesday. Photo: AP Photo/Kathy Willens
Lomachenko throws at Guillermo Rigondeaux during the third round of a WBO junior lightweight title fight in December. Photo: AP Photo/Adam Hunger
Lomachenko throws at Guillermo Rigondeaux during the third round of a WBO junior lightweight title fight in December. Photo: AP Photo/Adam Hunger

NEW YORK, United States - Vasyl Lomachenko goes for a world title in a third weight division in just his 12th pro bout on Saturday as he challenges World Boxing Association lightweight champion Jorge Linares.

Ukraine's Lomachenko, a two-time Olympic gold medallist who has made a meteoric rise in the pro ranks, will face a daunting introduction to the 135-pound (61kg) class as he takes on the Venezuelan making the seventh defense of his title.

"I always want a challenge -- always," Lomachenko said. "At 130 (pounds) we can't organize a top fight with a champion. Then my promoter asked about if I want to move to 135 against Jorge Linares. After two seconds I said, 'Of course I can. I can and I am ready.'"

Linares, 32, boasts a record of 44-3. Like Lomachenko, he possesses speed aplenty and dazzling technical skills.

Lomachenko won his first world title, at featherweight, in his third pro bout and became a two-division world champion when he moved up to super featherweight in his seventh pro fight.

His last four opponents have quit mid-bout -- most recently previously unbeaten Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux in a December clash in New York that went six rounds.

"Now my name is 'No Mas Chenko'" Lomachenko quipped in the ring after humbling Rigondeaux to improve to 10-1.

But Linares, who has showed his resolve in recent bouts against Anthony Crolla and Luke Campbell, says there's no way he'll throw in the towel.

"I will never do that, I will never give up," he said. "People always talk about and heap praise on Lomachenko because all of his opponents abandon (the fight).

"I'm not a boxer who abandons (a fight)."

Linares acknowledged that Lomachenko is "very fast with his hands, he's got great footwork and great angles," but said the Ukrainian's tendency to repeat his moves makes him vulnerable.

"He knows what he's in for," Linares said of Lomachenko. "I'm not an ordinary fighter."

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