Linares Heads to Britain to Box Local Hero Crolla for WBA Belt
In the biggest fight of the weekend, former WBC lightweight champion Jorge Linares travels from his adopted home city of Tokyo to Britain for the second time in three fights to take on WBA champion Anthony Crolla, the fighting pride of Manchester. The fight will be a treat for boxing betting fans all over the world.
Linares, originally from Venezuela, was recently stripped of the WBC title he won in May 2015 against Britain's Kevin Mitchell because an injury prevented him from defending against mandatory challenger Dejan Zlaticanin. The 33-year-old southpaw hasn't lost since March 2012, when Sergio Thompson cut, dropped, and handed him a tough second-round TKO defeat.
Linares' latest win came last October in Caracas, Venezuela, against Ivan Cano. It was his fourth straight by knockout, and the ninth straight overall for one of the smoothest operators at 135-lbs.
Crolla, 29, has hit his peak. A battler through and through, Crolla has blown away his last two opponents -- previously unbeaten South Americans Darleys Perez and Ismael Barroso -- to win and defend the WBA lightweight title.
Previously seen as a domestic staple with a lot of aggression and courage, but little power to back it up, Crolla has rounded out exceptionally under the guidance of trainer Joe Gallagher. He's also gained the respect of many boxing betting fans all over the world.
Crolla suffered a fractured skull and broken ankle in a midnight confrontation with burglars outside his neighbor's home in December 2014. Many feared the former British champion would never box again. Instead of giving up, he has come back better than ever, first drawing with Colombian Darleys Perez before stopping him with a vicious body shot in their November 2015 rematch which clinched his lightweight title.
He has since defend his belt against Ismael Barroso, a Venezuelan slugger who entered the ring with huge momentum. Barroso mauled Crolla early in the fight, but was outlasted as the Manchurian rallied back to batter his rival in an absolutely brutal fight which ended with Crolla's body shot decking Barroso for a ten count in round seven.
Linares is measured and cautious in his approach, unlike his countryman, Barroso. He relies on good defense and movement to control where the bout takes place. Crolla has won many contests by using his improved boxing skills as of late. He stands a better chance in this one by putting in body work early and avoiding a cat-and-mouse game with a pure boxer.
Now is Crolla's time to shine, even if Linares is the better fighter on most nights. He should be edged to win by stoppage in front of a roaring home crowd. Check the sportsbook for current odds.
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