By: Sergio L. Martinez @srgmtz100
Jorge Linares (42-3-0, 27 KOs) retained his lightweight title by decision against Anthony Crolla (31-6-3, 13 KOs) in the rematch. The fight was live from the Manchester Arena in Manchester, Lancashire, United Kingdom and was broadcasted to an American audience on the Showtime network.
Coming into the return bout, Crolla was looking for redemption after losing the title to Linares via a 12-round unanimous decision back in September of 2016. Fans were treated to another exciting contest.
Linares – universally seen as one of most technically sound fighters in the world -clearly out boxed the hometown favorite, constantly beating Crolla to the punch and using movement to confuse the former titlist. Crolla stayed true to his nature as he tried to continually pressure the Venezuelan phenom into a brawl. Unfortunately for the Mancunian, Linares kept his composure, stayed in his envelope and delivered a brilliant boxing performance.
Both fighters were cautions out of the gate. Linares worked the jab often and both combatants focused on roasting the other’s ribs early with hooks to the body. Crolla kept bouncing around the ring and was looking to pick his spots. Unfortunately for the 30-year Brit; he had a very difficult time as Linares used distance and timing to perfection.
The 31-year-old champion displayed great hand speed and a varied energetic attack throughout the battle. Every time Crolla showed signs of life, the Venezuelan responded with lightning-quick counters that halted the challenger’s advances. Linares was also able to easily move out of range with dazzling footwork and was in complete control after the first half of the contest.
Crolla went down early in the seventh after a quick left uppercut landed flush. Linares pressed the action in an attempt to end it, but the game Manchester native was able to survive the onslaught.
Feeling the fight slipping away, Crolla aggressively charged out of his corner to start the eighth round and landed some meaningful combinations to the champ’s head and body. Linares stayed on his back foot for the majority of the salvo. The hometown fighter was able to get into range for the first time in the fight and got some work down.
The ninth saw both pugs have their moments. Crolla upped his hostility and landed some hard combinations to the champion’s head early. Linares was able to stabilize during the second part of the round by using his jab effectively and mixing in some fast combinations.
Despite his best efforts, Crolla was unable to turn the tide in the championship rounds as Linares smoothly moved about the ring landing hard combinations and staying out of the way. The hometown fighter took a beating in the 11th but showed his true grit as he came out in the twelfth round looking for the knockout.
In the end, the three judges scored the contest 118-109 in favor of Jorge Linares.by