Crolla faces Linares in rematch on March 25
By Scott Gilfoid: Anthony Crolla (31-5-3, 13 KOs) failed the last time to beat Jorge Linares (41-3, 27 KOs) on September 24 last year, and now the two of them will be doing it again in a rematch on March 25 at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. Linares, 31, will be fighting in Crolla’s hometown despite being the WBA World lightweight champion and Crolla just the challenger.
Crolla’s promoter Eddie Hearn feels that he does a great job in rematches despite the fact that his record is just 1-0-1 in rematches. Crolla beat Darleys Perez in a rematch, and fought to a controversial 12 round draw against Derry Mathews in their rematch. Many boxing fans felt that Mathews was robbed in the rematch with Crolla. I saw the Crolla-Mathews rematch, and I had Mathews winning easily. I thought the scoring was laughable beyond belief.
Linares beat Crolla by a 12 round unanimous decision last September by these scores: 115-114, 115-113 and 117-111. Linares hurt Crolla with a body shot in round 6. However, Linares suffered a hand injury in round 5, and he wasn’t as effective in the last 6 rounds because of the injury.
“Crolla is great at rematches,” said Hearn to IFL TV. “That Arena [Manchester] can create some special things. Can Linares find the form that he found in the last fight? I don’t believe that’s possible. Can Crolla improve? Yes, I believe that’s possible. Can the crowd take him [Crolla] over the finish line? There will be 13,000-14,000 in there, cheering him on,” said Hearn about Crolla.
Linares will likely be better for the rematch than he was last time, because he won’t be injured this time. Linares is 100 percent healthy for the Crolla fight, and that’s bad news for him. Fighting in front of a lot of Crolla supporters isn’t going to change what happens inside the ring on March 25. If you remember, Linares fought with more energy each time the pro-Linares crowd started opening their yaps to cheer. Linares seemed motivated from the cheering of Crolla’s fans, and it seemed to backfire on them. It reminded me of how Linares appeared to gain energy from the crowd when he fought Britain’s Kevin Mitchell on May 30, 2015 in London, England. Each time that Mitchell started to do well and get the crowd into the fight, Linares would come back and hurt him with shots. It was interesting to watch, because Linares fought better when he had the crowd cheering Mitchell than when they were silent. What this means for Crolla is that if the Manchester crowd is making a lot of racket on March 25 in support of him, it could be bad. It would be better if the crowd stays silent and lets Crolla fight a tactical fight against Linares. But how do you keep the Manchester crowd silent? You can’t. As such, I think it’s going to be bad for Crolla.
“It’s the biggest fight of my career and it’s a massive opportunity,” said Crolla to skysports.com.
In the previous Crolla-Linares fight, Crolla was uncomfortable with the body punching from Linares. Instead of defending the body shots, Crolla kept turning his head to look at the referee Terry O’Connor, as if to let him know that he needed to stop the action to warn or penalize Linares for throwing the shots to his midsection. In looking the replays of the rounds, Linares was hitting Crolla well above the beltline.
Crolla didn’t like it and he wanted O’Connor to intervene to stop Linares from throwing body shots. In Crolla’s first fight against Darleys Perez, the referee working that fight Howard Foster had taken points away from Perez in rounds 11 and 12 for low blows. The point deductions saved the day for Crolla, resulting in the fight being scored a 12 round draw rather than a win for Perez.
In looking at those point deductions, they came from instances where Crolla pulled down on the back of Perez’s head in bending him forward into an ‘R’ shape. Instead of the referee warning Crolla for pulling down on Perez’s head, he took a point away from him. The fight took place in Crolla’s hometown of Manchester. It’s unclear why the referee didn’t warn Crolla for his pulling down on Perez’s head, because it’s something that should have been done at some point in the fight.
“I hurt my hand in the 6th round,” said Linares about his fight against Crolla.
Crolla totally gassed out in the last half of the fight. It wasn’t anything that the injured Linares did to force him to fade, as he was throwing very few punches due to his hand injury. It just looked like Crolla was slowed from the body punches that Linares had landed in the first half of the fight. Going into this fight, Crolla had fought mostly guys that head-hunted and didn’t throw to the body.
When Crolla had to eat some body shots from Linares, he did not react well to them. We saw the constant looking from Crolla to referee O’Connor in what appeared to be futile attempts to have him step in and warn Linares to stop throwing body shots. It was kind of sad actually. What did Crolla expect O’Connor to do? He would have looked bad if he took points away from Linares for throwing normal body shots that were well above the beltline.
I hate to say it but I don’t think it’s going to end well for Crolla in the rematch with Linares. The basic problem is Crolla is facing a healthy Linares this time instead of an injured one, and he WILL BE throwing body shots all night long. As long as the referee doesn’t stop Linares from throwing punches to the body, Crolla is likely to wear down and get stopped in the second half of the fight. I really hope Crolla doesn’t look at the referee for help to try and get Linares to stop hitting him with body shots like he did the last time he fought him.