Anthony Crolla will get another bite of the proverbial cherry this weekend when he takes on Jorge Linares in a hotly anticipated rematch for the WBA lightweight title in Manchester, England.
Crolla comes into this fight as a +170 underdog, with Linares around a -200 favorite.
Crolla was beaten by unanimous decision the last time these two squared off back in September of last year, but the fight was easily competitive enough to warrant a rematch. With Linares utilizing his greater skillset to build up a solid lead early on, Crolla roared back in the mid rounds, employing heavy pressure on a fatigued Linares. The champion managed to withstand the sustained pressure of Crolla however to mount a late revival of his own, ensuring a close win via decision.
Crolla’s camp, consisting of former trainer of the year Joe Gallagher, believes they have seen enough holes in Linares game first time out to take full advantage this time around, and bring the WBA title back to England.
Linares skillset as a boxer is highly advanced. He is an extremely gifted fighter and moves excellently around the ring. While his jab is more of a range-finder rather than a weapon in and of itself, it nevertheless enables him the space he needs to rip off dangerous combinations to the head and body. Combine this with his superior movement and Crolla is simply outmatched on a technical level.
Where Crolla does shine however, is in his perseverance. Employing his trademark high guard and pressure style, Crolla’s tactics usually consist of weathering an early storm and overcoming the opponent in the mid to late rounds, just like he did against the technically superior Ismael Barroso. While Barroso started strongly, Crolla wore him down to the point of exhaustion in the mid rounds and finished him in the 7th. To a fighter not pacing himself accordingly like Barroso, Crolla’s pressure attack to the body can be devastating. High-level stamina is a key trademark of nearly every Joe Gallagher trained fighter, and Crolla is the absolute embodiment of this.
In terms of a winner, I picked Linares before the first encounter and I see very little reason to alter my choice in this upcoming rematch. Linares is the far superior boxer and counter-puncher and has great ring coverage. Crolla managed to turn up the heat last time out in the mid to late rounds and he is likely to do so again. Linares was caught with some nice body shots going into the second half of the fight but managed to weather the storm. With 12 rounds of experience against Crolla already under his belt, it would be reasonable to assume that the technically superior Linares knows what to expect this time around and is prepared for a tough pressure attack by Crolla in the latter stages of this fight.
Just like other previous and current Gallagher gym fighters, such as former Super-Bantamweight champion Scott Quigg and current Super-Middleweight champion Callum Smith, Anthony Crolla is a high stamina athlete that opts for pressure and toughness over high technical ability. As long as Linares doesn’t get reckless on Saturday night, his movement and higher quality boxing ability should enable him to repeat the decision of six months ago and see off the challenge of a committed, but technically limited, Anthony Crolla via a wide unanimous decision.
Pick: Jorge Linares by Decision