Published: Wed, March 29, 2017
Sport | By Ellis Neal

Linares defeats lionheart Crolla to retain lightweight title


The three-weight world champion floored Crolla in the seventh round and there was never any doubt of him winning his rematch with the Briton as he dazzled with his handspeed and accuracy.

Indeed, Crolla did not underperform on Saturday night - he was simply outperformed by one of the world's best.

With Crolla (31-6-3, 13 KOs) out of the way, it's on to bigger and better, and hopefully, that means a title unification showdown between Linares and Garcia in a few months.

ANTHONY Crolla is confident the support of Manchester can carry him to victory over Jorge Linares tomorrow night.

The highlight of the fight came in round 7, when Linares used a great left uppercut to badly stagger Crolla and send him crashing to the mat, putting a clear exclamation mark on his victory. He needs to do that again against Jorge, No. 1 in the division.

"There're going to be times in the fight where I might have to weather a storm and I've got to bite down on that gumshield but that's something I'm willing to do, I'm willing to dig deeper than ever before".

Skilful and savage, Linares proved himself more than worthy of facing the very best in or around 135 pounds, including the two men now in his sights: Vasyl Lomachenko and Mikey Garcia.

But Manchester still has a world lightweight champion in Terry Flanagan (32-0-KO13), who went to the same school as Crolla and defends his WBO belt against Russian Petr Petrov (38-4-2-KO19) on April 8.

Back in December 2014, he tackled burglars at a neighbour's house, was hit by a brick and suffered a fractured skull and a serious injury to his ankle. "Flanagan is a lovely guy, but he's not the same level of draw".

Win or lose, Linares has typically been in crowd-pleasing fights with drama.

In the beginning, Linares controlled rounds one and two with his jab and out-punched Crolla.

Crolla was warned for a low blow in the third round, but was met with a lead left hook nearly immediately afterwards and was tagged with several sharp and crisp combinations form Linares for the rest of the round.

Linares may have proved he is the superior boxer over the course of their 24 rounds but Crolla showed enormous courage to battle back after being knocked down by a peach of an uppercut.

Linares, 31, was too slick, fast and accurate for Crolla, who was left with blood dribbling from a cut above his left eye from the sixth round.

He dropped Crolla in the seventh and won nearly every round with fluid and delectable boxing - proving himself the best in the division. Crolla drunkenly stumbled before dropping to a knee.

Crolla, 30, pleaded with trainer Joe Gallagher to let him finish the fight as his corner man tried to pull him out after the 11th round.

The knockdown seemed to shake Crolla into life and he was at his most aggressive in the eighth round.

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