Crolla relishing Linares rematch after title loss
ANTHONY CROLLA has set his sights on a rematch after losing his WBA lightweight title by unanimous decision against Jorge Linares in Manchester on Saturday night.
Venezuelan Linares produced a classy performance to see off the popular Mancunian, and appeared to be in control throughout despite being taken 12 rounds for the first time in his career.
Promoter Eddie Hearn revealed after the fight that a rematch had already been agreed for next year, and Crolla appeared to rule out a domestic fight against Terry Flanagan in favour of claiming back his title.
He said: “I think it will be Linares next year, in February/March. It was a tough old fight, I’ll have a little rest and then we’ll do it again.
“I think you saw last night, the attendance and the turnout was amazing and hopefully we’ll get something similar if not better after the fight that was put on last night.”
Crolla had brief moments of encouragement throughout, landing a right hand in the fifth that cut Linares’ right eye, but suffered a crucial blow in the sixth as the challenger landed a big right to leave Crolla struggling.
That punch, Crolla admitted, changed the course of the fight.
“I thought I was in control and had him where I wanted him,” he said.
“I took that right hand and I felt it gave him that feeling that he knew he could hurt me, and could do it again. That played a big part in the fight.
“I took a very good shot and after that, I knew what I was doing but my legs were trying to tell me different.”
The competitive opening rounds did little to encourage the defending champion. Crolla had been expected to pursue him but instead he chose to repeatedly target Linares’ body in an attempt to tire him in preparation for the second half of the fight.
Linares’ superior class, speed and accuracy ensured he at least edged the majority of the first five. He hurt Crolla with body shots in the fourth, one of which referee Terry O’Connor considered low.
It was in the fifth when Crolla landed a promising right hand that opened a cut by Linares’ right eye, but it took until the sixth for the challenger to show his first signs of fatigue. Just when it appeared the action would begin to favour the champion, Linares threw the fight’s best punch when he landed that big right.
The injured Crolla was forced to retreat back onto the ropes, where he appeared at threat of being stopped. Linares had expended significant energy attempting to finish the fight, so the question became whether he had used too much.
Even with his stamina depleted, however, Linares’ greater technique ensured the fight’s second half remained competitive and he prevented Crolla from building a lead.
His timing and jab continued to impress, even discouraging the champion, and ensured that entering the final two, Crolla appeared to need to win both to stand any chance of earning a decision from the judges.
The Mancunian, bleeding by his left eye, increasingly appeared the fighter who once looked unlikely to progress beyond domestic level. He was also fighting one who is clearly world class.
Crolla’s career has already been better than many expected, but the final stages of the fight simply confirmed the suspicion his level had been found. The exchanges he needed to change the fight continued to elude him and ensured his defeat via scores of 115-114, 117-111, 115-113 on the three judges’ scorecards. The Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running yesterday celebrated its 15th anniversary in style with thousands of runners taking part in an event frequently described as one of the most scenic in the world.
The marathon was won by Mohammad Abu-Rezeq from Altrincham (pictured) in a time of 2:20:52 while Jennifer Wetton from Central AC was first female, crossing the line in 2:47:03.
In the accompanying Baxters River Ness 10k, the winner for the second consecutive year was Neil Renault (30:37) while first female was Fanni Gyurko (35:03).
CROLLA: ‘I thought I was in control and had him where I wanted him’