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Crolla targeting Linares, not Flanagan

Jorge LinaresBy Scott Gilfoid: It looks like WBA lightweight champion Anthony Crolla (31-4-3, 13 KOs) could wind up facing WBC lightweight champion Jorge Linares (40-3, 27 KO) next rather than the knockout artist WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan. Crolla is coming off of a 7th round knockout win over Ismael Barroso (19-1-2, 18 KOs) last Saturday night at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, UK.

For some reason, Crolla’s trainer Joe Gallagher doesn’t want the Crolla-Flanagan fight this year. Gallagher says Flanagan isn’t well known and it’s too early to make that fight. However, Flanagan is VERY well known, and it just seems like a dreadful match-up for Crolla. Linares, 30, is a decent champion, but he’s shown himself to be human in the past in knockout losses to Antonio DeMarco, Sergio Thompson and Juan Carlos Salgado.

Linares is one of those fighters that can either look really good or look horrible in coming apart at the seams in getting knocked out. Linares’ career has taken a recent upsurge in knockout wins over Kevin Mitchell and Ivan Cano.

Whether those wins are an indication of Linares having improved his career is unclear. It could be that he just fought a couple of soft jobs and he was able to get the wins to briefly turn his career in a positive direction. As flawed as Linares is, I still see him as a much better fighter than Crolla. However, I can understand why Crolla’s team wants him to fight Linares rather than Flanagan, because there’s a difference in talent there.

Flanagan looks like the best fighter in the lightweight division right now bar none. Besides that, a loss to Flanagan would be bad for Crolla because both guys come from the same country. If you’re number 2 in the UK, you might as well be number 3, because there isn’t room to support two guys in the same weight class in the same country.

“That fight [against Flanagan] would be fourth or fifth option. He’s got two fights being put to him at the moment so that’s not one that’s up there. A Las Vegas night against Linares is one and Old Trafford is another. Those two nights are before anything else,” said Gallagher to”

I smell fear I don’t Team Crolla wants any part of Flanagan. When you start dismissing a well-known fighter like Flanagan by saying that people don’t know who he is, I see that as code to mean ‘we don’t this guy because he’s too dangerous.’ I think a fight between Crolla and Flanagan would be a horrible mismatch because Flanagan is tall as heck at 5’9”, and when he rehydrates for his fights, he looks like a welterweight. The guy is huge.

I see Flanagan as the Saul “Canelo” Alvarez of the lightweight division right now until Felix Verdejo kicks him off his throne. Crolla could get seriously hurt by Flanagan if that fight gets made, because Crolla is one of those types of fighters who will just soak up punishment until you either get tired of punching him in the head and fade, or you knock him out. I don’t think Flanagan would get tired of nailing Crolla with vicious head shots, and he’d either get knocked out in the traditional sense or his trainer will need to throw in the towel to save him from himself.

The thing is, I don’t see anything changing by waiting until 2017 to make the Crolla vs. Flanagan fight. I’m not sure if Gallagher is serious about wanting to make the fight then. If he is, I see Flanagan doing a demolition job on Crolla in 2017 just like he’d do now. The only difference is Crolla will have been able to slip in a couple of payday fights in 2016 before he gets blasted to smithereens by Flanagan next year.

Of course, I can see Flanagan being dismissed an opponent next year in the same way he’s being dismissed now. We could hear Team Crolla say ‘Flanagan is an unknown. There’s no point in fighting him in 2017. We’ll fight him in 2018 because it’ll be bigger.’ I see this being stretched out year after year with the Flanagan fight being pushed far into the future until Crolla has been beaten by someone else and is no longer a champion. By that point in Crolla’s career, he’ll probably need Flanagan to throw him a bone so that he can get a payday. Of course, the money won’t be the same in the future under those circumstances compared to what it would be now, but at least Crolla will be able to get payday fights against other guys that he at least has a chance of beating.

I don’t think Crolla has a good chance of beating Linares. I can’t lie. Crolla’s chances aren’t good in a fight against a talent like him, but I see them as being a heck of a lot better than his chances against Flanagan right now. I mean, I that as a flat out loss for Crolla and a bad one at that.

“ I don’t think many people know who Terry Flanagan is. The trade people might want to see it but the general person in the street doesn’t know about it. Of the 10,000 or 11,000 at the arena on Saturday night, a lot of them are unaware who Flanagan is,” said Gallagher.

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