Jorge Linares outclasses Anthony Crolla to retain title

In terms of technique and ability to dictate the pace of the fight, in which the WBA and The Ring lightweight titles were on the line, defending champion Linares' superiority could not be questioned.

Meanwhile, former world boxing champion Ricky Hatton says it'll be an upset if Crolla wins back the lightweight title tonight.

The Mancunian must first get past the hard test of Petr Petrov on April 8, but should he do that he is eager to clash with Linares for the chance to win another belt.

"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". There will be no ‘what if I had done this, ‘what if I had done that – I have prepared the best I possibly can.

"After he put me over, he threw a lot of shots but I covered them". I was running around with tickets at the last minute and stressing over things.

And he is feeling good about the preparation he has done as he looks to make adjustments from his original effort in September. Linares continued the trend through round four, controlling with his jab and using his footwork to keep Crolla at a comfortable distance.

"It was one of the fights of the year last time".

After the 11th round, trainer Joe Gallagher wanted to pull Crolla from the fight, but the fighter begged to finish the bout, and did so by going another three minutes with a man who was simply a class or two above him this time around. I've never been lacking heart or determination and that will be the same on Saturday night. A rematch clause dictated a do-over which materialized today at the same venue and Linares disappointed the home folks once again, outpointing the local hero in a one-sided fight.

"You see people online saying Linares is a level above and that he outclassed me - he obviously didn't outclass me because two of the judges only had a point in it". Crolla is supremely fit and I feel he needs to set a fast pace from the first bell and test Linares, try to force mistakes out of him. The result was the same but the difference between them was greater. I want these big fights; these big nights in Manchester are what I thrive on. So, at times, I do need to drag him into a fight. Linares is top of the pile in the lightweight division and if there was a chance of having a rematch that was always more important to me than any other fight.

"I'm not going to lie, I can't compete with flashy padwork like that - I can't do that", Crolla told Sky Sports News HQ. I have been training since January 10 of this year, kicking off my training camp in Okinawa, Japan. But, whenever I've needed to dig deep, I've done it and I'll do it again on Saturday night.

  • Salvatore Jensen