It hasn’t been the best couple of weeks for British boxing as Kell Brook and Liam Smith both stepped up and took fights which many thought to be too much for them. Both men's stock has risen off the back of their impressive displays, but eventually they were forced to succumb to the sheer power that GGG and Canelo possess. However Anthony ‘Million Dollar’ Crolla can claw back some boxing pride for Britain on Saturday night as he steps into the ring for the second defence of his WBA title.
Crolla, much like Brook and Smith, cannot be accused of shying away from the big fights, as ever since he landed that ferocious body shot on Darleys Perez to win the WBA Lightweight title back in November he has gone on to take care of the very dangerous Ismael Barosso in similar fashion. Many wouldn’t have begrudged Crolla (31-4-3-KO13) from making a few easy defences of his title ensuring that he remained champion for a lengthy period, something he's always dreamed of from an early age and a dream that seemed so far away back in December 2014 when he suffered a fractured skull at the hands of burglars. However on Saturday night, the Mancunian is taking on the massive task of unifying the division by fighting the number one ranked fighter in the division and current ‘WBC Diamond’ champion, Jorge Linares.
Linares (40-3-0-KO27) is mostly known to British fight fans as the man who climbed off the canvas to stop a very beaten and brave Kevin Mitchell in the 10th round last May at the O2 arena. The Venezuelan is a three-weight world champion and is known to be very good technically with sharp feet and boasts a high knockout percentage. However, come Saturday night, it will be almost 12 months since Linares last fought (a 4th round stoppage against Ivan Cano) and if there is any slight hint of ring rust there you can be sure that Crolla will be on him straight away, looking to take Linares’ titles away from him.
Not only are the WBA and WBC Diamond titles on the line at the Manchester Arena but also the coveted Ring Magazine world championship is up for grabs. Often touted as ‘the nicest man in boxing’, Crolla has the opportunity to become the first Englishman to win the Ring Magazine Lightweight title, and if he does manage to pull it off, you can bet your bottom dollar that the MEN arena won’t have a roof on it by the end of the night.
Betfred are offering 4/7 on Crolla to win the fight, with Linares at 6/4. Backing Crolla at 4/7 may be too short for some, so we believe the value can be found elsewhere. Crolla weathered the storm against Barosso and took control as the rounds went on, finally delivering the crucial body shot in the seventh round. We believe it could be a similar story this time out and backing Crolla to win in rounds 7-12 at 5/1 is where our money is going.