Jorge Linares vs. Anthony Crolla II: Boxing fight card, preview, odds, start time
Mikey Garcia in line to face winner of Saturday's lightweight title bout from England
One of the best boxing matches of 2016 will get its sequel on Saturday as lightweight titlist Jorge Linares returns to Anthony Crolla’s hometown of Manchester, England, to defend the belt he won last September.
Linares (41-3, 27 KOs), a native of Venezuela who fights out of Japan, fought through a right hand injury to edge Crolla (31-5-3, 13 KOs) by close unanimous decision in their first meeting. Both men overcame cuts in an all-action fight with definitive swings of momentum between the top two fighters at 135 pounds.
The rematch for the WBA title will take place at Manchester Arena and air in the United States on Showtime (6 p.m. ET). WBC titleholder Mikey Garcia will be an interested observer when he joins the Showtime broadcast team as guest analyst from a studio in New York.
Garcia (36-0, 30 KOs), who like Linares has won world titles in three divisions,after returning last year from a two-year exile because of a lengthy battle with former promoter Top Rank. But first he would like to handle his business at lightweight and has plenty of interest in facing Saturday’s winner.
“I want to unify the titles and be able to claim supremacy that I’m the top champion at lightweight,” Garcia told CBS Sports. “The WBC has ordered that the winner of this fight between Linares and Crolla would be mandated to fight me. Everybody saw [their first fight] was a close, competitive fight. I also felt Linares did enough to take the fight. I expect the next match to be fought at that same level, that same intensity.”
Crolla, 30, who knocked out Darleys Perez in their 2015 rematch to win the title before losing it in September, exercised his rematch clause with Linares and believes things will play out differently the second time around.
Linares vs. Crolla Fight Card
Jorge Linares (c) -250
Anthony Crolla +195
Martin Ward (c) -750
Maxi Hughes +475
Junior lightweight title
Marcus Morrison -2000
Jason Welborn +900
Jack Arnfield -185
Brian Rose +150
Horsea Burton OFF
Tamas Kosma OFF
“I learned a lot from that fight,” Crolla said. “Linares has very good speed, very good ring craft and he used his big fight experience for when to take a rest, when to turn it on for the judges. This time I know I need to deal with the flashy combinations better, cut the ring off better and capitalize when he is open for shots.”
Garcia, 29, believes the key for Crolla is to implement more head and waist movement to avoid getting caught by Linares’ quick four-punch combinations. While Garcia believes the rematch will have much of the same intensity of their first bout, he sees it playing out more tactically.
“I think this fight might be a little different because now they both know each other,” Garcia said. “They are both going to try and make certain adjustments. Linares is going to try to box to win the fight a little more clearly. I don’t know if it’s going to be as action-packed and close like the first time but it will still be competitive.”
Linares, 31, will fight in England for the third time in his last four bouts, having defended his title by 10th-round knockout against Kevin Mitchell in May 2015. His close victory over Crolla marked the first time he had gone the 12-round distance in nine previous title fights.
With his right hand now healed, Linares expects to be at his best on Saturday and knows he will see a more prepared version of Crolla.
“I’m not coming here feeling like the champion,” Linares said. “I’m coming in here feeling like the challenger because I know I have to win very clear to go back home with a win. I can fight even better this time. Before the first fight I had a broken right hand and I hadn’t fought for a while. That’s always a factor [with] inactivity.”
When it comes to who Garcia hopes to face later this year, he doesn’t have a preference as far as style and has no issue travelling to the United Kingdom if Crolla comes out on top.
“I think Linares would be a great fight,” Garcia said. “That would be a great matchup. And I think Crolla would be huge because he brings a lot of fans from the UK. I’m sure he would bring a ton of support whether it’s here in the states or if I have to go out there just like Linares is going out to the UK. I wouldn’t mind it either. So either way, both fights would be tremendous for me.”
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