Anthony Crolla comfortable with the underdog tag ahead of Jorge Linares rematch

Mark Critchley
The Independent
Anthony Crolla believes he can beat Jorge Linares at the second time of asking: Getty
Anthony Crolla believes he can beat Jorge Linares at the second time of asking: Getty

Anthony Crolla is comfortable with the underdog tag as he attempts to regain the world lightweight title from Jorge Linares.

The 30-year-old Mancunian came up short against Linares last September, when his Venezuelan opponent put on a display of speed and skill to claim a unanimous decision and the WBA’s 135lbs crown.

The pair will meet again at the Manchester Arena on Saturday and although Crolla will enjoy the support of a partisan crowd, he will enter the ring as the outsider.

“On Saturday night there's a lot of people out there who think there's no way I can beat Jorge Linares,” he said at a press conference on Thursday. “It's their opinion and Jorge is a great fighter but on Saturday night I'll prove an awful lot of people wrong.”

“Jorge Linares is very, very good on the eye,” he added. “You see training sessions and clips on social media, I can't compete with flashy padwork like that, I can't do that. But there's other things to my game that I feel will go well against that.

“I believe if Jorge comes in looking for the knock-out he comes away from what he's best at, and if he does so I feel it falls right into my hands. If it has to get into a dogfight then I don't mind.

“It was one of the fights of the year last time and I certainly see us both being better again this time and it being a better fight.”

Linares, who has previously defeated the former British super-featherweight champion Kevin Mitchell, is a three-weight world champion with 41 wins from 44 professional bouts.

The Venezuelan was the clear victor in a tight contest when he met Crolla last year, and Crolla has no misgivings about the result of their first fight.

“I believe last time I lost the fight and the right man won,” he admitted. “I knew what a great fighter he was but there's not the surprise element to it and I'm prepared better this time.

“It might go early, it might go inside the distance but I'm prepared for 12 very hard rounds. There're going to be times in the fight where I might have to weather a storm and I've got to bite down on that gumshield but that's something I'm willing to do, I'm willing to dig deeper than ever before.”

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