JORGE LINARES RETAINS HIS TITLE — Jorge Linares was in hostile territory last September when he opposed Manchester’s Anthony Crolla in Manchester with Crolla’s WBA world lightweight title at stake. But Linares, competing in his 10th world title fight, emerged victorious, copping a unanimous decision in a bout where the local man had several good moments. A rematch clause dictated a do-over which materialized today at the same venue and Linares disappointed the home folks once again, outpointing the local hero in a one-sided fight. He was simply too classy for Anthony Crolla. All three judges scored it 118-109.
Linares was at his most dominant in rounds 6 and 7 when he landed his uppercuts virtually at will. In round seven, a huge left knocked Crolla to the mat. Although demonstrably hurt, he wouldn’t take a backward step and Linares wasn’t able to apply the finisher. Linares eased up at this point, saving his energy for a Garrison finish. After the 11th frame, in which Crolla took a lot of punishment, there was a moment when it appeared that Crolla’s corner would stop the fight, but the brave Mancunian had too much pride to let it end in this fashion and he was still working hard when the final bell sounded.
After the fight, speaking through a translator, Linares spoke respectfully of Crolla, saying he had big balls. He also saluted the crestfallen but well-mannered crowd which came away knowing they had seen a master technician at work.
Jorge Linares (42-3, 27 KOs) is one of the most interesting personalities in boxing. Born and raised in Venezuela, he has fought 16 times in Japan, including the first seven bouts of his pro career. He trains in Tokyo and in Las Vegas where he is mentored by Cuban defector Ismael Salas who has trained a long list of excellent fighters, both amateur and pro.
Anthony Crolla (31-6-3, 13 KOs) acquired legions of new fans in boxing-mad Manchester for an incident that happened outside the ring. In December of 2014, he confronted two burglars who had just robbed a neighbor’s house. In the ensuing scrum, he was hit over the head with a concrete slab, suffering a fractured skull and a broken ankle. Returning to the ring after an eight month layoff, he went on to win the WBA strap and made one successful defense before he was dethroned by Linares.
Linares’s next bout is expected to be a unification match with WBC champ Mikey Garcia, likely in Las Vegas. Garcia was part of the SHOWTIME in-studio broadcasting team, joining Brian Custer, Al Bernstein, and Paulie Malignaggi. The bout aired on Sky Sports in the U.K.
Linares-Crolla II was hitched to a very pedestrian undercard.
The co-feature, billed as the “Battle of Blackpool,” was a dull 12-round middleweight contest between former sparring partners and longtime gym mates Jack Arnfield and Brian Rose. Arnfield was awarded the decision on scores of 116-112 and 115-113 twice, but many ringsiders thought that Rose had done just enough to squeak by. A rematch is unlikely.
Two-time Olympian and 2012 gold medalist Katie Taylor won her fourth straight pro bout without a loss, cruising to an 8-round unanimous decision over Milena Koleva (9-8-1). Taylor, a lightweight, had her opponent on the canvas in round seven, but the Bulgarian lasted the distance. Hailing from the seaside town of Bray, Katie Taylor has been called the most outstanding Irish athlete of her generation. She is slated to fight again on April 19 at Wembley Stadium underneath Joshua-Klitschko.
In a 12-round super featherweight contest, Martin J. Ward improved to 17-0-2 and retained his Lonsdale belt with a unanimous decision over light hitting Maxi Hughes (16-3-2). This was their third meeting. Their first encounter was scored a draw. Ward won the middle match, inducing Hughes to retire after five frames with a badly damaged nose.
Light heavyweight Hosea Burton (19-1) rebounded from his shocking defeat to Frank Buglioni with a workmanlike 8-round decision over Hungary’s Tamas Kozma (5-3-2).
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