Saturday, July 20, 2024  |



Jorge Linares crashes Anthony Crolla’s party

Fighters Network

MANCHESTER, England – There was a party scheduled to happen here Saturday night and three-weight world titleholder Jorge Linares crashed it, ruined it and departed the venue with the spoils when he scored a 12-round unanimous decision over local hero Anthony Crolla.

The scores were 115-114, 115-113 and, in this reporter’s opinion, a very wide 117-111 in favor of the tremendously skilled Venezuelan.

Linares, who displayed flashes of his old genius, lifted the vacant RING lightweight title and also claimed Crolla’s WBA belt with an educated and disciplined performance. The action was of an extremely high caliber and although one card seemed out of place, there can be no argument about the winner.

“It means everything to me to win this fight and THE RING lightweight title,” said Linares when interviewed by “This is the perfect victory for me and a moment that I will treasure forever.”

The opening round was reconnaissance but Linares opened up to the body in Round 2 and there was one eye-catching combination to the head, which rattled the defending titleholder.

Crolla, sensing the quality in front of him, worked well behind his jab and when he found the range, released his own bursts to head and body in the fourth. Linares, known for his adept lateral movement, kept his opponent moving his feet, however, and located the escape routes.

In the fifth, Linares was given a strong low blow warning by referee Terry O’Connor and the Manchester man posted a good three minutes, outworking the more experienced challenger.

Crolla drifted to the inside in the sixth and was having a great session before being nailed by a repeat right hand that rocked him into the ropes. Linares followed up and although Crolla dug deep, he was being outgunned by a terrific fighter.

The combinations by Linares were always memorable, although he rarely had an easy session. Crolla’s jab was effective but the versatility of Linares’ attacks was impressive and the local favorite could never really discourage him or slow his movement.

Linares rallied brilliantly in the 11th and 12th, punctuating his performance in a gutsy stand during the championship rounds. They were menacing rallies and Crolla fought through real fire to stay in the game.

It was a terrific main event and promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed that there is a rematch clause in the contract, which will be exercised. The Matchroom boss also insisted that the second fight will, again, take place in Manchester.

It’s been a tough three years for Linares (41-3, 27 knockouts) who has been woefully inactive and sidelined due to a fractured right hand. While recovering from this injury, the 31-year-old veteran was stripped of his WBC title, which was subsequently picked up by hard-hitting Montenegrin Dejan Zlaticanin

This fight with Crolla (31-5-3, 13 KOs) was a chance for Linares to regain a world title and also reaffirm his standing as the best lightweight in the world. He delivered.

Crolla, who won THE RING’s Most Inspirational award for 2015, has defied the odds inside and outside the ring. Battered over the head by a concrete slab while foiling a burglary attempt in December 2014, there were many who thought he would never fight again. By way of defiant response, Crolla became a better fighter than he ever was before.

The Englishman’s two most recent victories over Darleys Perez and Ismael Barroso were sensational but Linares, tonight, just got his nose over the line first.

“No regrets,” said a clearly deflated Crolla at the post-fight press conference. “I lost a close fight and I’m just disappointed. The rematch is the fight that I want.”

Linares weighed in officially at 134.1 pounds with Crolla at 134.5.



Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing