Linares-Crolla II and the lightweight division
By Hector Franco
March 24, 2017
This Saturday WBA and Ring Magazine lightweight champion Jorge Linares (41-3, 27 KOs) will return to the United Kingdom to rematch Anthony Crolla (31-5-3, 13 KOs). Their first fight took place last September where Linares won a clear unanimous decision victory.
The win over Crolla in many ways legitimized Linares who for years was deemed as a fighter who never lived up to his full potential. The expectations for Linares were high considering he was a three-division world champion before his win over Crolla. He has won titles at 126, 130, and 135 pounds. For Linares’ promoter Golden Boy Promotions, Linares is an important piece of their company. Their main attraction and biggest star is Canelo Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs) but Linares remains integral for the company’s current stock in today's boxing landscape.
For Linares going back into enemy territory into an opponent's home country is nothing new. The Venezuelan who resides in Japan is the definition of a road warrior having fought in eight different countries thus far in his career. The first fight with Crolla was a performance where Linares finally put it all together. There was no betrayal of his chin that took place like in his fights with Juan Carlos Salgado and Sergio Thompson. Linares’ skin didn’t succumb to any severe cuts like in his fight with Antonio DeMarco in 2011. When Crolla pressed the action by putting more pressure on Linares to change the momentum of the bout, Linares maintained and kept the advantage in all exchanges.
In the rematch, Crolla will want to get off to an earlier start to avoid having to play catch-up in the second half of the fight. If Crolla is successful in defeating Linares, a third fight between the two could be made. Linares pulling off the win over Crolla in the rematch will lead to bigger matches in the future.
On the broadcast, WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia (36-0, 30 KOs) will be calling the fight with the Showtime commentary team. Garcia has a vested interest in the fight, as he will be in line to face the winner. A Linares fight with Garcia could have its issues in getting made as the promotional cold war between Golden Boy, and Haymon fighters are only beginning to thaw.
The other champions at lightweight could be an option for Linares and Crolla as well. The WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan (31-0, 12 KOs) would be a good fight for both men. Linares would be willing to travel to the UK to face Flanagan, and an all UK clash between Crolla and Flanagan could do big business.
On the outside looking in is IBF lightweight champion Robert Easter (19-0, 14 KOs). Easter is one of the tallest lightweights with an advantage in reach over almost any lightweight. Easter is signed with Haymon, and a unification bout with Garcia could be made if fights with Linares and Crolla don’t materialize.
The much-anticipated arrival of current 130-pound champion Vasyl Lomachenko (7-1, 5 KOs) into the lightweight division is something all the champions at lightweight are waiting for. Any of the current champions at lightweight would make for competitive bouts with the two-time Olympic gold medalist. Until the Ukrainian’s arrival in the division, he has unfinished business at 130-pounds.
Tomorrow night a prosperous future awaits the winner of the rematch between Linares and Crolla. The second act rarely lives up to the first, but the lightweight division has plenty of great fights that can be made no matter what happens on Saturday night.
(Feature Photo: Lawrence Lustig)