Jorge Linares vs Anthony Crolla
BY KID HERSH
The highly anticipated bout for The Ring lightweight belt from MEN Arena in Manchester. This is a title unification fight between Jorge Linares (40-3, 27KO's) and Anthony Crolla (31-4-3, 13KO's). This fight has a lot of hype surrounding it. One might wonder why exactly that is, considering neither of these fighters really are anywhere near considered being pound for pound guys. I would say that it is likely because of momentum. Crolla seems at his very peak and has improved of late since winning his title and defending it by knockout two times in a row. Linares on the other hand has won nine fights straight by knockout. In the first round Crolla walked forward slowly behind his high guard and just felt out Linares, as expected. Linares was wisely putting in loads of body work, not even worrying about the head yet. The second round was more of the same with Crolla turning up the pressure just a bit more but not landing anything of note just yet as he looked to hit Linares body in return. In the third round Linares was firing back with excellent combinations, hitting to Crollas head now with speedy counters. Crolla was looking to cut off the ring and was successful in trapping Linares in corners at times but not taking advantage of it yet. In the fourth round Crolla upped the pace even more and Linares was trying to slow him down with even more body shots. Some strayed low and Linares was warned two times for unintentional low blows. Despite those, he was still looking very sharp but it is a super interesting fight because it is still ramping up yet as Crolla keeps pressing heavier and heavier. Crolla had his best round of the fight in the fifth and I think won his first round. He landed a big right hand a little over a minute into the round that drew blood from Linares left eye, causing blood to flow. This is not unusual for Linares but he now has a handicap to deal with going forward. The sixth round was amazing, as Crolla seemed to be getting to Linares with his heavy pressure and Linares looked a little weak to my eyes. Suddenly though, Linares changed the momentum back around with a right hand in the final minute of the round that hurt Crolla and backed him up. Linares unloaded his arsenal with Crolla on the ropes but Crolla hung in there until the final bell without ever going down. In the seventh round Crolla picked it back up where he left off with his success in the middle of the previous round in pressuring Linares and making Linares look a bit lost for the first time in the fight, unsure of what to do with the heavy pressure in front of him. Linares looks to me like he might be slowing down to me here and perhaps getting broken down piece by piece. It is hard to tell but he doesn't seem to be responding well to punches anymore like he was in the early rounds. In the ninth round Linares was looking get a second wind going and he did just that but his fighting was more so in bursts, with Crolla filling in the other time with steady work. In the tenth round Linares put it together beautifully, seeming to ge tthat second round he was looking for as he put in classy work consistently throughout the round with clean and powerful right hands to the head as well as more body work and excellent movement as he outworked and outlanded Crolla. The eleventh round was more of the same from Linares as he got into serious rhythm and was completely outclassing Crolla in the championship round. In the final round both fighters put it all on the line. They were extremely tired but both of them wanted it very bad and emptied the tank in the effort for last minute drama. Linares seemed to get the better of the exchanges as he has the faster and heavier hands. The cards came in 115-114, 117-111, 115-113 for Jorge Linares to make him The Ring lightweight champion. It is the biggest win of Linares career and a great showing on the big stage for the man that never yet seemed to achieve his full potential just yet.