I recently posted a debate topic on social media, I asked for people’s thoughts on the Crolla v Linares rematch. To my dismay the large majority of observers picked Linares to handily beat the popular Mancunian at the show titled “Repeat or Revenge”. This is my take on why you should not write of Anthony Crolla off just yet. 

At first glance, I can see the logic behind backing the slick and classy Venezuelan, he moves effortlessly, he delivers accomplished combinations in the blink of an eye and his stamina and fitness are testament to the desire he still has left for the game. The first fight was competitive but fairly decisive, Linares hurt Crolla in round six and closed the show in true championship style with powerful flourishes in rounds eleven and twelve. For me however the story for Crolla is not over and this is why. 

What motivates a man like Crolla? Why does he want to go back in with a ring nemesis like Linares. Let us look at the history books, Anthony Crolla has been written off before, previously touted as being “British level at best”, people said he had reached his peak after his loss to Gary Sykes. But we have forgotten some key facts. People wrote him off against John Murray, people wrote him off against Gavin Rees, after a brutal attack which left him with a severely damaged skull and broken ankle, people thought he was done. He accepted his situation, he didn’t fill his life with negativity and bitterness. Instead he rose above it, slowly returning to training, sparring and of course the ring. 

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People wrote him off in his first encounter with Darley Perez, a fight in which he was unlucky not to become champion. What about the rematch, people wrote him off then, but the fight ended with an uncharacteristic body shot victory which seemed to be the perfect karma, a great night in the history of modern British boxing. That about is show down with another Venezuelan power punching, south paw “monster” in Ismail Barroso? People gave Crolla credit for not swerving the mandatory challenger but shook their heads in resolute acceptance of the loss of his title as soon as the fight was announced. In that fight, Joe Gallaher had the tactics spot on and Anthony Crolla strode into the unknown with bravery, taking all Barroso had to offer and timing his clever counters and energy sapping shots to perfection. He dragged Barroso deep into the murky waters and drowned him. 

Now we stand again at the precipice of a huge mountain to climb, but is it impossible? Linares is a fantastic fighter, a complete and gifted man in the ring, but he is not unbeatable. Linares has been knocked out three times against fighters that he was supposed to beat with ease. Linares has had his chin tested and been wiped out. Our man always improves in rematches, think Matthews, think Perez. Yes this is a tough ask, yes Linares can be sensational, but the one thing about Crolla, he fights with pride, he fights with passion, he fights out of a gym which boasts some of the best fighters in the land, he fights for the people, he fights for respect, he fights for Manchester, he wins the fights he is meant to loose. Write him off at your peril.

Interview: Anthony Crolla on Linares Rematch 

BBTV’s Aky Karim chats to Anthony Crolla at a Collyhurst and Moston amateur boxing show at Ashton Masonic Hall. – Crolla, discusses his fight with Jorge Linares and a potential rematch after losing his WBA world lightweight tile on points to the Venezuelan in September. He also speaks about training at Gallagher’s Gym and gives his advice to young amateur boxers who dream of achieving what he has.

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