At the Manchester Arena, England, Jorge Linares defended his WBA and RING Lightweight titles to make it 2-0 against Anthony Crolla. All three judges rewarded Linares’ dominance – which included a 7th round knockdown – with fair scores of 118-109. Linares also commanded the same lead here on Boxing Base’s card, tallying up a telling 118-109.
The Venezuelan climbs to 42 wins, 3 defeats, 27 knockouts, while Mancunian hero Crolla reduces to 31 wins, 6 defeats, 3 draws, 13 knockouts. Linares should now find himself in a strong position to set up a meaningful stateside affair in the coming months, with WBC champ Mikey Garcia likely in the crosshairs. Now that’s a mouth-watering matchup that screams ‘fan-friendly’.
As for tonight’s fight, Linares was simply in fine form, keeping Crolla at range while firing off vicious combinations. Linares faded somewhat in the later rounds, which allowed Crolla to march forward and gain some momentum, but that’s really the worst thing you could say about Linares’ performance. In fact, it’s fair to say that Linares has ironed out some flaws since battling Crolla in their much closer original affair last September.
Hurtful, razor-sharp punches, thrown with zipping speed, made Linares a constant threat tonight. And that power and accuracy almost ended matters early when a counter uppercut dropped Crolla in the 7th. Even when under pressure during the second half of the fight, Linares was plenty slippery courtesy of some good lateral movement. In short, the champion was able to do pretty much what he wanted, when he wanted.
From here, both fighters are headed in different yet not polar opposite directions. Crolla has some rebuilding to do, granted, but since he’s a major hit on UK shores, he still has some fairly lucrative options in front of him, it would seem. There’s rising contender Luke Campbell, not to mention fellow Mancunian Terry Flanagan, who currently carries the WBO strap.
As for Linares, he and Golden Boy Promotions will no doubt be targeting some big-time encounters stateside. To throw a few names out there from BB’s Lightweight Top 10, we’re looking at guys like IBF titlist Robert Easter, Felix Verdejo (though it seems unlikely in 2017), and of course Mikey Garcia.
Linares vs Crolla II: Undercard
- Martin J Ward (17-0-2, 8 KO) extended his unbeaten run with a hard-fought Unanimous Decision over Maxi Hughes (16-3-2, 2 KO). Scorecards came in at 116-112, 118-111 and 116-113 for the Junior Lightweight prospect, who made the third defense of his British title.
- Jack Arnfield (24-2, 6 KO) conquered veteran countryman Brian Rose (29-5-1, 8 KO) in their Middleweight 12-rounder, with final tallies coming in at 115-113 (twice) and 116-112.
- Marcus Morrison (14-1, 10 KO) suffered the first setback of his infant Middleweight campaign courtesy of spoiler Jason Welborn (21-6, 7 KO). Welborn tore up the script, winning on scores of 96-93 (twice) and 97-92.
- 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). The Irish Amateur standout now looks ahead to another undercard meeting on the April 29th Joshua vs Klitschko card.
- Hosea Burton (19-1, 9 KO) breezed by Tomas Kozma (5-3-2, 2 KO) in their Light Heavyweight 8-rounder, clocking up a landslide 80-71 Decision.
Give us your take on Linares vs Crolla II and where you’d like to see both fighters head next. Should Crolla target a Manchester showdown with Terry Flanagan? And how does Linares match up against an unbeaten, refined banger like Mikey Garcia?