Two classy lightweights put on a quality fight last night, as Jorge Linares won a close but unanimous decision over Anthony Crolla. The Venezuelan took the Manchester man’s WBA belt, becoming a three-weight champion in the process. Crolla, taking the biggest fight, against the most talented fighter of his career, made it close, but Linares was just too good. But there is a rematch clause in place and promoter Eddie Hearn says he fully expects the two excellent fighters to meet again.
Linares 41-3(27) told Sky Sports that Crolla “deserves a rematch” and that he would be happy to come back to the UK (in what would be his third fight here, having beaten Kevin Mitchell is another great battle back in May of last year). Crolla, who lost for the first time in four years and is now 31-5-3(13) was “devastated” after last night’s loss but he could soon have a second go at Linares.
“There’s a rematch clause. It’s the biggest fight for Linares. I don’t envisage any problems,” Hearn told BBC Sport. “Because Anthony put up such a good fight the 12 to 13,000 that were in the Manchester Arena will increase next time. A loss at the highest level is never the end of the world. You’re not going to win all these fights against great fighters.”
Indeed, Crolla could have taken the easy route and avoided Linares, and vice versa. But British boxing is flourishing right now, thanks to the best wanting to fight the best. The UK still boasts an impressive 12 world champions, and with superb, brave fighters like Crolla, Kell Brook and Carl Frampton – to name just three of the UK’s best right now – taking on the ultimate tests, the sport is benefiting.
Who knows, we may see Crolla, a truly inspirational fighter/person/role model, win the rematch with Linares and then engage in a third fight with the equally inspirational boxer. Crolla lost last night, but in no was was he embarrassed or out of his depth; with two of the three judges having Linares a winner by just one point and by two points respectively.
Bring on the sequel.