Anthony Crolla will be defending his WBA belt against Jorge LinaresAnthony Crolla and Jorge Linares are set to do battle on September 24th at the Manchester Arena, England. The venue has become a boxing mecca for the city’s homegrown boxing heroes over the years – such as future Hall of Famer Ricky Hatton – and Crolla isn’t short of diehard fans following recent standout performances against Darleys Perez and Ismael Barroso. Crolla settled for a controversial Draw against Perez in July 2015, but got his revenge via 5th round knockout in May this year before dismantling wrecking machine Barroso in May.

Both great wins, but can Crolla (31-4-3, 13 KO) continue his winning streak when he takes on today’s Lightweight front-runner? Linares, currently standing atop the Lightweight Top 10 here at Boxing Base, has plenty of experience at world level, a history of upsetting fans in foreign territories, and has rebounded from three crushing knockout defeats during his career to be where he is today. That in itself, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t been handled with kid gloves when it comes to opposition, is testament to just how determined this Venezuelan boxer-puncher really is.

While Linares represents the toughest test of Crolla’s career, the Mancunian is in with a very decent shot at adding the vacant RING 135-pound belt to his trophy cabinet, one which currently holds the WBA strap. Crolla, who rides the No.3 spot, has undergone a major transformation under the tutelage of esteemed trainer Joe Gallagher in recent times, and his technical masterclasses over Perez and Barroso have not gone unnoticed. Crolla’s record might not be the prettiest, but he’s got more than enough power to trouble whoever is put in front of him, has deft patience and timing, and is arguably one of today’s best body punchers. It’s also worth noting that Linares (40-3, 27 KO) has suffered knockouts in all three career defeats.

There’s even greater reason for Crolla vs Linares to resonate deeply with English fans beyond the fact that it’s a meaningful, must-see clash of top-level fighters. Barroso and Linares are responsible for crushing Crolla’s fellow countryman Kevin Mitchell in 2015, and so naturally there is an air of ‘revenge’ going on here. Crolla has already tamed and dispatched Barroso, and if he could do the same to Linares then that really would be quite a feat. We can expect Mitchell, who was highly competitive against Linares, to be ringside for this one.

All in all, the news of this matchup should be met by praise. It’s a stellar fight, should promise plenty of strategic action and firepower, and you’ve of course got to hand it to Linares and Crolla for signing the contract. Both men could have taken on weaker challengers, and I’m glad they didn’t. It’s also great to see Matchroom Boxing’s rapport with foreign fighters is still as strong as ever. Eddie Hearn and his team certainly know how to import international talent for big fights. Great stuff all round.

Do you see Anthony Crolla’s cinderella story continuing against Linares in September? And what are the keys to victory for both fighters?