Unification Bout – WBC 135 pound kingpin Jorge Linares of Venezuela has declared his right hand fully healed after a series of injuries forced him to have surgery at the beginning of 2016.
Linares, 40-3 overall, has held world titles in three weight classes and his next fight, barring a tune-up, will be his third title defense as a lightweight. In October of 2015 he stopped Ivan Cano in the fourth round to win the lightweight strap, but the fight saw Linares emerge with the hand injury. A February defense against Montenegro’s Dejan Zlaticanin (21-0) was cancelled when the hand continued to trouble him. His recovery is running ahead of schedule; Linares is reportedly already back in the gym.
Linares Wants Crolla Unification Bout
Zlaticanin is now set to fight Italy’s Emiliano Marsili (32-0-1) for an “interim” version of the WBC’s belt this coming June 11th at The Turning Stone Casino in upstate New York. Surely The WBC will push Linares to fight the winner at some point in the future.
But Linares has England’s Anthony Crolla, the WBA lightweight champion, on his mind.
Back in November of 2008, Linares won the WBA world title at 130 pounds when he stopped Panama’s Whyber Garcia in the fifth round. It was Linares’ second world title and he defended the belt once before losing it in October of 2009 to Mexico’s Juan Carlos Salgado in Tokyo.
When asked who he most wants to fight, the Venezuelan champion stated “I’ve been dreaming of a WBA title because that is the only belt I lost in the ring. I want to win a WBA belt again because I remember my time with the WBA belt. I would dedicate a unification fight with Anthony Crolla to the memory of Gilberto Mendoza.”
Both Fighters Ranked by TBRB.org
Currently the TBRB.org boxing rankings have Linares as the #2 ranked lightweight in the world and Crolla ranked #5. Linares has already defended his lightweight belt in England once, as he stopped veteran Kevin Mitchell (39-2) in a May of 2015 fight at London’s O2 Arena.
If the match should come to fruition, Linares’ well-earned reputation as a road warrior, combined with Crolla’s considerable following in England, makes the U.K the likely spot to host the fight.
“That has been the plan all along” stated Linares. “To return to England to fight. I already had success there against Mitchell and I want to return”.