Former WBA lightweight champion Anthony ‘Million Dollar’ Crolla sees Saturday’s fight as a difficult one for WBC 135-lb champion Devin ‘The Dream’ Haney in his title defense against Jorge Linares in Las Vegas.
Haney vs. Linares will be meeting in the main event this Saturday night on DAZN from the Michelob Ultra Arena.
Crolla has twice fought the former three-division world champion Linares (47-5, 29 KOs) during his career, and lost both times by a pair of 12 round decisions.
In both cases, Crolla (35-7-3, 13 KOs) felt that he had the ideal game plan to beat Linares, but the Venezuelan-born fighter’s technical skills were just too good for him to deal with.
Crolla says that if the Haney-Linares fight had taken place several years ago, he would be picking Linares to beat the 22-year-old Haney (25-0, 15 KOs).
But right now with Linares being 35, Crolla is giving the edge to Haney. But Crolla still views the fight as a close one, which tells you a lot about what kind of talent that Linares is.
From 2015 to 2017, Linares came into the UK and beat three of the best Brits one after another in defeating Kevin Mitchell, Crolla, and Luke Campbell.
Linares had no issues with fighting in the backyards of the British fighters, as he enjoyed coming over there and putting on a show against their best fighters.
When asked this week if he’d be interested in giving Luke Campbell a rematch if victorious on Saturday, Linares said he would.
It might not be a good idea for Campbell to fight Linares again right now, as he’s coming off a devastating knockout loss to Ryan Garcia last January.
It’s probably not a good idea for Campbell to go straight into a fight with a talented guy like Linares after getting blasted out by the heavy-handed King Ryan.
In the last three years, Linares’ career has been a rocky one with knockout losses to Vasily Lomachenko and Pablo Cesar Cano. However, Linares has bounced back from those defeats with wins over Carlos Morales and Al Toyogon.
Linares’ physical and technical skills appear to be about as good as ever. He’s not deteriorated as some fighters do when they hit their mid-30s. Linares doesn’t look like a fighter on the decline in any way, and he might have too much for Haney.
Indeed, you can argue that Linares is fighting more like a fighter in his late 20s than his mid-30s, which could be a problem for Haney, who can’t punch and has fought no one.
Haney’s best opponent to date is 39-year-old former WBA featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa, who was coming off an Achilles injury and a beat down against Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis.
“He’ll be in the fight from round one,” said Crolla to DAZN about Linares. “If you asked me for a prediction on this a few years ago then I’d be more confident picking Linares.
“Haney is the favorite and he certainly looks the fighter on the way up but he had a hard time with an injured [Yuriorkis] Gamboa and Linares is a tougher task. Haney will get the job done but this fight is a lot closer than people think.”
Haney’s lack of punching power is worrisome because it means he’s going to have to try and beat Linares by a decision. That’s not going to be easy with his technical skills, and his ability to outbox his opponents.
Whatever skills that Haney has going for him, Linares can more than match him. What we don’t know is how Linares will deal with the youth and the reach advantage of Haney.
“I’d been watching his fight with Antonio DeMarco and if you watch that fight then you’ll see it’s the best and worst of Jorge Linares,” Crolla continued.
“He’s absolutely flawless in the fight’s early going but DeMarco keeps putting pressure on and you see Linares crumble at the end.
“That was the kind of plan I had in place to beat him but he was just too good at times,” said Crolla.
DeMarco is a bigger puncher than Haney, and he fights in a different style, which involves putting pressure on his opponents.