Manager, promoter, trainer and fighter—Dave Coldwell has worked in every area of the sport and has joined Britishboxers as one of our star columnists. In his maiden column, Coldwell previews Anthony Crolla versus Jorge Linares.

I’m really excited about this fight. I’m a big fan of Jorge Linares, but I’m also a big fan of Anthony Crolla—both as a fighter and person. Linares coming over here is big news; he is a three-weight world champion and a quality operator.

Some champions have moments of quality, this guy is genuine quality. I love the way he puts his shots together, he also has a great boxing brain and can dig in when things get tough. Everyone is excited about this fight, the atmosphere will be great in the Manchester Arena when they walk to the ring.

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Even though I’m a fan of Linares, as most boxing fans are, I’d be gutted for Crolla if he doesn’t do it. We’ve really seen him come through over the past 19 months or so. Crolla has built up a head of steam recently, he burst onto the world scene and became a champion. Plus we all know that he is a nice kid who always has time for everybody.

There are no two ways about it, this is a big fight. I was devastated for Kevin Mitchell when he lost to Linares after putting up a really good fight, but that just showed the quality Linares has.

‘Crolla looks like an angel but he is a hard bastard when he steps into that ring. That’s what people forget about him.’

Crolla’s got a great story, he put himself in the line for a world title by showing his bravery both inside and outside the ring. He tackled those burglars a few years ago despite having put himself into contention for a world title fight. He didn’t think twice about challenging them and everyone in the sport was gutted for him when he got injured following a cowardly attack.

It could have been so much worse, though. Despite having a world title shot taken away from him he recovered well and was given another chance. Then there was the draw with Darleys Perez; you wondered if it was ever going to happen for him after that, which is why the knockout over Perez in the rematch was so sweet and was celebrated by everyone in the sport. What he has been through makes it so much more special for Anthony, he took his opportunity well. A few people wrote him off going into the Ismael Barroso defence, too, only to be forced to eat their words when he put in another exceptional performance.

I’ve had fighters go against him in the past in John Watson and Kieran Farrell, what I’ve learned about Crolla is that he looks like an angel but he is a hard bastard when he steps into that ring. That’s what people forget about him, they associate him with his boxing ability and overlook his toughness. That ruggedness has come to the forefront in recent fights.

This is a genuinely good fight. Linares is a slight favourite going in, but it is 55-45 because of Crolla’s form despite the fact that Linares has been operating at a higher level for a long time.

Linares can crack, has fast hands and is a very good puncher, so he ticks a lot of boxes, but I think he is on the wrong side of his peak. The occasion can inspire Anthony, everything about this fight reminds me of Ricky Hatton against Kostya Tszyu, you’ve got a well-loved Manchester fighter going into the city’s Arena with a big, top-level name in the other corner.

Crolla is the kind of kid who will rise to the atmosphere and feed off the support of the fans. This support will drive him on, as it has done in recent fights, and help him produce a big performance.

‘Sometimes you get a gut feeling, the sense that everything is set-up for a fighter to have a glorious night, this could be one of those occasions.’

Crolla can pull this off, he really can. If both were at their absolute best you’d favour Linares yet timing is always a key thing in boxing and this has come along at the perfect time for Anthony.

Sometimes you get a gut feeling, the sense that everything is set-up for a fighter to have a glorious night, this could be one of those occasions.

Crolla has always proved me wrong in the past, I hope that the side of me that is predicting a Hatton-Tszyu type of night is right and that we see another memorable win in Manchester.

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