Anthony Crolla will defend his WBA World lightweight title against Jorge Linares over a scheduled 12 rounds at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England, on Saturday, September 24.
Twenty-nine-year-old Crolla, who fights out of Manchester, is a 10-year pro (31-4-3, 13 KOs) who won the title last November by knocking out Darleys Perez in the fifth. “Million Dollar” defended his belt this May by knocking out the formidable Ismael Barroso in the seventh.
Linares, who’ll turn 31 on August 22, is a Venezuelan who fights out of Tokyo. A 14-year ring vet (40-3, 27 KOs), he won the vacant WBC World featherweight title in July 2007 by stopping Oscar Larios via 10th-round TKO, a title he vacated in August 2008. “Golden Boy” scored the vacant WBA World super featherweight title that November by stopping Whyber Garcia via fifth-round TKO. Following a successful title defense, he lost the belt to Juan Carlos Salgado, who won by first-round TKO in October 2009. Linares won the vacant WBC World lightweight title in December 2014 by knocking out Javier Prieto in the fourth. He twice successfully defended his title, most recently last October when he knocked out Ivan Cano in the fourth.
The Venezuelan was scheduled to fight Dejan Zlaticanin (22-0, 15 KOs) earlier this year but the fight was canceled when Linares broke his hand while training, which resulted in him being stripped of his belt. Zlaticanin fought Franklin Mamani for the vacant title this June 11, winning by third-round TKO.
The winner of Crolla-Linares will become Zlaticanin’s mandatory challenger, according to WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman, which means that a unification bout is in the offing.
“I’m so excited to have the chance to unify the lightweight division,” says Crolla. “Jorge is a fantastic fighter and it’s another mountain to climb, but these are the tests that I thrive on and I’ve beaten two great fighters in Perez and Barroso and I’m confident that I can beat Jorge too.”
Linares recognizes that “Crolla is a very strong contender and I know with both our passions for the sport we’ll deliver an exciting fight for all the fans in Manchester. I know that Crolla is coming off a victory against my fellow Venezuelan countryman, so I am coming in with a lot of determination, pride and hunger for a victory. I am ready to prove I am the best in the lightweight division.”
“I think boxing has a huge amount to do with momentum,” says promoter Eddie Hearn, “and while Linares is clearly established as the number one lightweight in the world, I think this is the time to beat him. When you look at the performances that Crolla has given in Manchester, I would have him as favorite to beat Linares. We had plenty of options but with the run Anthony is on, the only thing on his mind is to be the number one in the division and the linear champion.”
This article was penned by the author who is not related to the WBA and the statements, expressions or opinions referenced herein are that of the author alone and not the WBA.