Anthony Crolla confident Manchester support can help him beat Jorge Linares

The 30-year-old's options at 135lbs include a challenge for fellow Mancunian Terry Flanagan's WBO title but promoter Eddie Hearn has also floated a move to light-welterweight.

With the right hand injury that hampered him in their first meeting fully healed, Linares (42-3, 27 KOs) was masterful in pitching a near shutout of Crolla, in the former titleholder's backyard of Manchester, England.

After an inspiring stoppage victory over the previously undefeated Ismael Barroso, Crolla's run came to end when he met Linares late previous year.

The pair engaged in a thrilling contest last September and the second contest was widely expected to follow the first, with Linares a big favourite. Garcia, a multi-weight champion, destroyed Dejan Zlaticanin for the belt in January and, like Linares, is on the fringes of the top 10 pound-for-pound list.

Crolla has been a professional boxer since 2006, but for years he looked set to enjoy a successful, but not world class career.

Linares was at his most dominant in rounds 6 and 7 when he landed his uppercuts virtually at will. The ninth round, in particular, saw the two slug it out in several toe-to-toe exchanges. But Linares was simply too sharp, too fast and too comfortable for Crolla to overcome. But in the eleventh round Linares was closer to knocking down Crolla than Crolla knocking down Linares and Crolla's corner seemed hesitent to send him out for the final round.

"Jorge Linares is a great fighter and a great champion", Crolla said in the ring.

"Manchester I'm so sorry I couldn't do it for your support".

"I think there's going to be a bit of everything in this fight, a bit of boxing, a bit of a chess match, but I definitely see a good fight again".

But Crolla was the first man in six fights to go the distance with him despite the Brit taking some fierce punishment. I'm a realist - I know on Saturday I'll need to be the very best Anthony Crolla to beat Jorge Linares.

Linares, through a translator, hailed his opponent's bravery. "I just want to be involved in big fights". "I think the last fight took more out of Anthony than it did Linares. It's their opinion and Jorge is a great fighter, but on Saturday night I'll prove an terrible lot of people wrong".

Crolla added that another defeat did not mean his career was over.

"I'm 30 years old, I'm going to rest, but I believe I can come again, rebuild and take it from there".

"I would like to fight with Mikey Garcia, and I know he also wants to fight me".

"Crolla could come better prepared than last time".

Katie Taylor (4-0, 2 KO) kept the momentum going with a telling 80-72 Points victory over Junior Lightweight foe Milena Kovela (9-8-1, 3 KO).

  • Julie Sanders


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