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Crolla vs. Linares: Mitchell expects Anthony to win

Jorge Linares

By Scott Gilfoid: Kevin Mitchell found out the hard way how talented the 31-year-old Jorge Linares (40-3, 27 KOs) is, and now it’s Anthony Crolla’s turn when the two of them face each other this Saturday night on September 24 at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, UK. Linares, a former three division world champion, will be challenging the 29-year-old Crolla (31-4-3, 13 KOs) for his World Boxing Association lightweight title.

Mitchell thinks Linares is past it somewhat in terms of his skills at this point in his career. Linares has had some injury problems that led to him being stripped of his WBC lightweight title recently due to inactivity. Mitchell believes that the inactivity and injuries is a sign that Linares is slipping. I don’t know. When I see other fighters like Kell Brook getting injured left and right in recent years, it suggests to me that injuries are a part of the sport rather than a sign that a fighter is slipping.

Mitchell had the bad luck of fighting Linares last year in May, and he ended up getting out-boxed and stopped in the 10th round. What made it particularly bad was that Linares beat Mitchell in front of his own fans at the O2 Arena in London, England. The only thing positive that Mitchell did in the fight was a knockdown in the 5th from a textbook left elbow.

I saw a replay of the knockdown and Mitchell’s glove missed Linares entirely. It was all elbow that connected to the head of Linares that put him down. Other than that tainted knockdown, Mitchell lost every round of the fight on my scorecard.

Linares was giving Mitchell a bad boxing lesson; although you would think Mitchell was winning the fight by the screaming from the pro-Mitchell fans at the O2 Arena on that night. By the 10th, Mitchell was badly cut above his left eye and his face smashed badly by Linares’ hard blows. Linares dropped Mitchell in the 10th, and the fight was subsequently halted. It was a good thing for Mitchell that the fight was stopped, because he was taking bad punishment from linares, and it only would have gotten worse if the fight had been allowed to continue.

“I just think that this fight with Crolla has come at the right time for Crolla. Crolla is young and fresh. In my career, I lived the life wrong but Crolla lives in the gym and is healthy all the year round,” said Mitchell to

After fighting to a controversial 12 round draw against former WBA lightweight champion Darleys Perez last year in July 2015, Crolla came back to defeat Perez by a 5th round knockout last November. In Crolla’s first defense of his WBA title, he defeated 33-year-old Ismael Barroso by a 7th round knockout. Crolla took heavy punishment for the first five rounds, but he then took control of the fight after Barroso faded in the 6th. Barroso looked so tired by the 7th, you could have blown him over with a feather. It wasn’t anything special that Crolla did in the fight to defeat Barroso. It was more of a case of Barroso just being dog tired from punching himself out. He had literally hit Crolla with so many heavy shots that he got tired by the 5th. I can only imagine how Crolla felt in having to take all those heavy head shots that Barroso hit him with.

“In his day, Linares was unbelievable but I just think he’s a little bit past his best. He’s had a lot of inactivity, a bad hand and we all know he struggles to make weight. All that will help Crolla and play into his hands,” said Mitchell about Linares.

What on earth is Mitchell blabbering about? Linares hasn’t lost a fight in four years, and has a nine-fight winning streak. What is Mitchell squawking about in saying “in his day,” as if to suggest that Linares is an over-the-hill fighter? The guy gets a little hand injury and Mitchell is now ready to shovel dirt over him and pronounce him as finished as a fighter. I hate to say it, but I think Linares is going to beat Crolla in a royal fashion on Saturday night.

Crolla’s loyal boxing fans aren’t going to be able to do much to encourage him to win the fight by their loud cheering. Linares is one of those rare fighters who fights better when he hears a lot of croaking from the fans. If anything, Crolla should have signs posted in the Manchester Arena on the night telling the boxing fans to pipe down, because their singing and cheering is going to help Linares more than it will him. Linares was made to hear cheering, and he doesn’t differentiate between cheering for him or against him. He’s motivated by the racket from crowds.

Linares has the superior speed, punching power, mobility, size, experience, and talent compared to Crolla. The Crolla-Linares fight is a really bad mismatch in my opinion, and I can’t see Crolla doing well at all, period. The only thing Crolla has had going for him lately is him fighting at home in Manchester against beatable fighters in Darleys Perez and Barroso. Crolla would have lost the fight to Perez the first time around if not for the referee taking points off from Perez in consecutive rounds for low blows in the 11th and 12th. Crolla was behind in the fight, and those controversial calls saved him from losing. In slow motion you can see Crolla pulling Perez’s head down in the 12th round while he’s throwing a punch. The punch ended up straying low, but Perez had his head pulled down. I thought it was a bogus call. Whatever the case, Crolla beat Perez in the rematch and he’ll be coming into Saturday’s fight as the WBA champion. I just don’t think Crolla is going to leave the ring with the WBA belt still in his possession unless he can score a knockout. Nobody outpoints a talent like Linares. The only way you beat Linares is by knocking him out. Unfortunately for Crolla, he can’t punch, so he’s kind of up against it in this fight. I’m just saying.

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