Linares excited about homecoming title defense

Lightweight titlist Jorge Linares will fight at home in Venezuela for the first time since 2010. AP Photo/Eric Jamison

Lightweight titlist Jorge Linares has been a pro since 2002 and has won world titles in three weight divisions. Yet he has boxed only three times in his native Venezuela.

So he is quite happy to be fighting at home for the first time in a world title bout, and for the first time since 2010.

He defends his 135-pound crown for the second time when he faces Ivan Cano on Saturday at the Poliedro de Caracas in Caracas (full card streamed live on ESPN3.com at approximately 6:30 p.m. ET, with a televised replay Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN Deportes).

"I am ready to continue dominating the lightweight division and ready to bring a big night of boxing to Venezuela,” said Linares, 30. "This is a great homecoming for me. After traveling for most of my career, I am proud to bring the title to Venezuela and be able to defend it at home. On [Saturday], I will continue to show why I am a champion at 135 pounds."

Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya, Linares’ promoter, said he is pleased Linares will be able to defend his belt at home.

"In this homecoming fight, I know that Jorge Linares will once again be victorious in the ring,” De La Hoya said. “He is one of, if not the best, fighters to come out of Venezuela, so the crowd will be electric, cheering him on to victory every step of the way. Linares is one of boxing's most exciting fighters to watch, so I'm pleased fans around the world will have the opportunity to see him in action this Saturday.”

Linares (39-3, 26 KOs) has boxed around the world, but primarily in Japan and the United States. He has also fought in Panama, Mexico, Argentina and England, where he knocked out mandatory challenger Kevin Mitchell in the 10th round of a fantastic fight in his last bout in May.

Cano (23-6-2, 15 KOs), of Mexico, will be taking a step up in competition. In his most notable fight, he got knocked out by contender Dierry Jean in the 11th round in 2012. But Cano said he is taking this opportunity against Linares seriously.

"This is my opportunity to show the world that I am a feared contender in the lightweight division," Cano said. “I am coming off a victory in February, and I am ready to continue that momentum when I face Linares."