For once the overall card wasn’t as good as other cards Matchroom Promotions have held but the main event was worth every penny for the people watching as Jorge Linares showed his class in a scintillating performance. On the first bell the fight was a cagy enough start with both fighters trying to implement their new plan for what is effectively the thirteenth round. There was an electric party type atmosphere in the arena but Linares was blocking it out as both fighters decided to work the body in the opening round.
Crolla brought some tactics into this fight from the previous fight like bouncing on his toes and trying to put a lot of pressure on Linares, but Linares was calm and comfortable dealing with the pressure as he was catching Crolla as he came forward and he was able to let his hands go for three and four punch combinations.
Linares was utilising his fast hand speed by catching Crolla as he attempted to get close enough to him to throw a punch, he was mixing up his punches but he was constantly looking for a big uppercut. As the early rounds went on Linares looked more comfortable and as he started to control the fight, he grew in confidence with every round. Crolla was continuing to make his main target the body of Linares which suggested he was pinning all his hopes on him slowing down dramatically in the second half of the fight.
As the fight moved into the middle rounds Linares appeared to move up the gears with ease as his confidence grew more with Crolla not fully committing himself by letting his hands go and by not fully engaging he played right into the plan Linares had for him. In the 7th round Crolla was still taking too many clean shots and he sustained a cut to the side of his right eye but to make matters worse he stretched to punch Linares but he got caught with one of the big uppercuts Linares has been trying to land throughout the earlier rounds of the fight, the explosive left uppercut caught Crolla completely off guard and he legs went from underneath him, he took a standing eight count and somehow survived the round but he struggled to walk back to his corner at the sound of the bell.
[PHOTO LAWRENCE LUSTIG]
Crolla came out in the following round from the knockdown and looked like a different fighter, he showed a lot of heart as he must have known he was well behind on the scorecards and that he had to give it everything. As Crolla came on strong Linares took what appeared to be a breather and his foot of the gas which lead to Crolla winning a round to the crowds delight. Crolla upped the pressure again and he started to back Linares up but Linares was still dangerous and every now and then he caught Crolla with a combination just to remind him he hadn’t went away.
Into the later rounds Crolla is still working the body and he is having some success with it, but Linares is still counter punching well and overall still looking comfortable and at times it felt like he was happy to coast to victory. Into the 11th round and Linares is more active than he was in the last few rounds, it appeared like he got his second wind, and he catches Crolla again with a hard uppercut and right hook, at the sound of the bell Crolla looked frustrated and dejected as he walked back to his corner. There is a bit of commotion in Crollas corner as it looked like Joe Gallagher had pulled his man from the fight but then Crolla is seen pleading with Joe not to take him out of the contest and they agree to let Crolla fight the last round.
Linares dominated the last round and showed why he is a three weight world champion over the course of the fight, all the judges scored the fight 118-109 for Linares, and this felt a much easier fight for him second time around.
Looking to the future there are some potentially big fights for each fighter, Linares has a potential mouth watering fight against Mikey Garcia and Crolla must surly look to fellow Mancuanian Terry Flanaghan for a battle of Britain contest, but with Crolla being Matchroom/Sky and Flanagan being Queensbury/Boxnation it might be a hard one to negotiate.
Other fighters appearing on the card are as follows:
Jack Arnfield bt Brian Rose (Points 115-113, 115-113, 116-112)
WBA International Middleweight Championship
Katie Taylor bt Milena Koleva (Points 80 to 72)
Jason Welborn bt Marcus Morrison (Points 96-93, 96-93, 97-92)
WBC Middleweight International Championship
Martin J Ward bt Maxi Hughes (Points 116-112, 118-111, 116-113)
British Super Featherweight Championship
Hosea Burton bt Tamas Kozma (Points 80 to 71)
Light Heavyweight Fight
Ben Sheedy bt Rob Brown (Points 60 to 54)
Sean McGoldrick bt Brett Fidoe (Points 40 to 36)
Tomi Tatham ‘TNT’ bt Karel Horejsek
Light Heavyweight Fight
Nathan Wheatley bt Chris Jenkinson
Lawrence Okolie bt Russell Henshaw (1st Round Stoppage)