The big fight in boxing this weekend sees Anthony Crolla [31(14)-4(1)-3] defend his WBA lightweight title against Venezuela’s three weight World champion Jorge Linares [40(27)-3(3)].
The bout at the Manchester Arena is Crolla’s fourth big fight with South American in a row following a dubious draw and a win over Colombian Darleys Pérez and a stunning win over Venezuelan Ismael Barroso.
One of the biggest feel-good stories in boxing, Manchester’s Crolla has unbelievably bounced back from a vicious assault when he interrupted a crime, to become a World champion and the World’s #5 lightweight, and he will now look to continue the amazing tale on Saturday night.
In Linares he faces a tough task, but we are backing him to pull off another win.
The Englishman has improved several levels in recent times and is a brilliantly conditioned fighter, but in a clash of skills he comes of second-best against Linares.
Linares, a veteran of nine World title fights and a former WBC feather, WBA super feather, and WBC lightweight champion, is a supremely skilled fighter and will not be overawed by the partisan crowd at the Manchester Arena having fought all over the World.
Nevertheless, this perhaps could be the perfect time for Crolla to face the future Hall of Famer and current #2 ranked lightweight.
The South American has not fought in eleven months and does have an air of fragility about him, with all three of his losses coming by stoppage, two of which were early. Rumours of Linares struggling at the weight are more than likely just the standard Sky Sports tactic and should not be read into with confidence but would certainly bolster this pick if true. Talk of Linares being past his best may also be true, but the Venezuelan is still supremely talented and outboxes Crolla every day of the week – basically the Englishman needs to make it a scrap.
Linares is something of a slow starter, which will surely be compounded by ring rust, so we can’t envision trainer Joe Gallagher instructing Crolla to take the traditional Gallagher approach of absorbing early attacks and stopping a tiring opponent down the stretch – a tactic which worked to perfection versus Ismael Barroso. Instead we are predicting a Hatton v Tszyu-style gameplan from Crolla who will seek to overwhelm Linares and the odds for El Niño de Oro to go early are too tempting to pass up.
For anyone feeling risky:
Anthony Crolla to win by KO/TKO/RTD Rounds 1-3 @ 18/1 with Ladbrokes