Crolla rel­ish­ing Linares re­match af­ter ti­tle loss

The Herald - Herald Sport - - UPDATE - COLIN CRAIG

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’

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