Back in September, in a very close fight, Jorge Linares (42-3 27 KO) beat Anthony Crolla (31-6-3 13 KO) by unanimous decision 115-113, 115-114, and the “What in the hell fight were you watching?” score of 117-111. Standing-8 had it 115-113 Linares.
The stage was set for a rematch. Just like the first fight, they knuckled up (today/tonight depending on where you were watching from) at the Manchester Arena. Crolla would again have a chance to be special in front of his hometown fans, but this time would be worse than the last.
From the opening bell, Linares was masterful in his execution. His movement and ring generalship was just about perfect relevant to his opponent. It was obvious he learned from their first encounter and tightened up the areas that needed it. Linares moved effortlessly while landing a piston like jab, damaging left hooks to the body, quick accurate combination punching, and mixing in a sneaky right uppercut from time to time. Throughout the fight, Crolla was able to move forward backing Linares up but the champions ability to fight off his back foot negated any advantage that Crolla could possibly have.
The begining of the fight was almost a carbon copy of their first. Linares the more active fighter banking rounds. Crolla went to the body in the third and even though Linares won the round it was closer. Body work was key for Crolla which would make sense when facing a moving target. The problem is Crolla did not continue the body work in an effort to slow his adversary. In the fifth, Linares landed some nice left hooks to the body and was getting closer to landing a big right uppercut. It was painfully obvious in the sixth that Linares was begining to break Crolla down pysically which would be telling in the next round.
In the seventh, Linares dropped Crolla with a textbook left uppercut from distance.
Crolla beat the count and actually landed some effective punches to close out the round. If there is one thing that Crolla did in this one it was show the heart of a champion. Case in point, after being dropped in the seventh, he arguably came back to win the eighth, one of only two rounds that Standing-8 gave him.
A few close rounds to the final bell but edge to Linares in most with the exception of the twelfth on the card here. Interesting to note is that in the eleventh, it appeared that Crolla’s corner wanted to stop the fight but Crolla’s warrior heart would have none of it as he finished the fight.
Standing-8 had it the same as all three judges, 118-109.
A unification fight with Mikey Garcia could be up next for Linares.