Crolla likely to fall short in world title rematch
Champion Linares may be too good
WBA world lightweight title
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Manchester's Anthony Crolla and Venezuelan Jorge Linares go again in a rematch of their thrilling September fight, but unfortunately for the home fighter we could see a similar result.
The pair head back to Manchester Arena, the scene of their original duel, where Crolla will attempt to win back the WBA lightweight belt that Linares took from him six months ago.
It was one hell of a fight, and both men came out of it with bags of credit. Crolla was fantastic, but so was Linares, and when a close but unanimous decision was read out it was hard to dispute.
There wasn't much between the pair for the first half of the fight, but Crolla was staggered at the end of the sixth and Linares started to take charge.
Linares put on a boxing masterclass in the last two rounds, fighting off the back foot to repel the increasing desperate Brit, and although Crolla will give everything in an attempt to recapture the title, he will have his work cut out against a truly world-class opponent.
This will be Linares' 11th world-title contest and he is on a ten-fight winning streak, with his last defeat in 2012. Kevin Mitchell had him briefly in trouble when they fought at the O2 in London in 2015, putting him on the canvas in the fifth, but Linares came back to brutally stop Mitchell in the tenth.
Crolla finished both Darleys Perez and Ismael Barroso in world-title fights with body shots, but 13 stoppages from 39 contests is not a great KO percentage and although Linares has been stopped three times he will fancy his chances of dealing with Crolla's power.
There are suggestions that Linares may be past his best and could be carrying a hand injury, which will give Crolla backers hope, but if both men are at their best Linares should once again prevail, and the odds about him winning on the scorecards again look worth taking.
J Linares on points
2pts 8-5 Betfair