Jorge Linares – WBC world lightweight champion “Golden Boy” Jorge Linares (40-3) of Venezuela has signed to fight WBA titleholder Anthony Crolla (31-4-3) at the Manchester Arena in the United Kingdom this coming September 24th.
For Linares, the fight will come after a nearly year-long layoff. Linares last fought this past October 10th when he successfully defended his WBC belt against Ivan Cano in a fight that took place in his home country of Venezuela. After that fight, Linares was plagued by a hand injury that forced him to pull out of a scheduled title defense earlier this year against Dejan Zlaticanin. Since then, Linares has undergone surgery to repair the hand and he has declared himself fit and ready to go. Because of the layoff, Zlaticanin has since fought for a version of the WBC belt while Linares has been declared a titleholder “in recess.” Currently, the bout with Crolla is for the Briton’s WBA belt only.
For Linares, this will be his second fight in the United Kingdom. After capturing the WBC title in December of 2014 with a win in Tokyo over Javier Prieto, Linares faced Kevin Mitchell at London’s O2 Arena in his first title defense. In that fight, Linares scored a 10th round stoppage victory while behind on the cards of two of the three judges.
For Crolla, the fight will be the second defense of his WBA belt. In July of 2015, Crolla fought former champion Darlys Perez (32-1 at the time) of Colombia to a draw before winning the title in a November rematch where he stopped Perez in round 5. He has since gone on to defend the belt with a win over Ismael Barroso this past May.
Linares, 30 years old, has fought most of his 14-year career in Japan, where he resides. He has won world titles in three weight classes (126 lbs, 130 lbs and 135 lbs).
The fight is yet another example of a world champion who is finding the British market more appealing than the American market, as the offer from British promoters was strong enough for Linares to eschew a rescheduling of the proposed fight with Zlaticanin. Linares held the 130 pound world title for the WBA and he is reported to be motivated to add Crolla’s WBA version at lightweight in tribute to deceased WBA President Gilberto Mendoza, a fellow Venezuelan.