Crolla defends lightweight crown in Linares match-up, Ryder and Arnfield collide in Manchester


Lee Gormley | September 23, 2016

Anthony Crolla v Jorge Linares

  • WBA lightweight title fight
  • Saturday, September 24th
  • Scheduled for: 10:30 BST
  • The Manchester Arena
  • Live on Sky Sports 2

Crolla v Linares tips

Manchester’s Anthony Crolla makes the second defence of his WBA lightweight title on Saturday night against visiting Venezuelan challenger Jorge Linares, with the latter’s WBC Diamond belt and the Ring magazine strap also on the line.

The reigning champion has enjoyed a resurgent career since suffering horrific injuries back in 2014, bouncing back from an almost fatal attack to be crowned WBA kingpin with victory over Darleys Perez and then successfully defended it against Ismael Barroso.

Crolla (31-4-3, 13 KOs) has set his sights on being first Englishman to win the iconic Ring magazine’s 135lbs title, which is currently vacant, while earning another impressive victory on home soil in front of his rapturous support.

The 29-year-old will enter the Manchester Arena ring for the fourth successive time at 9/4 with Coral to stop his latest South American challenger Linares (40-3, 27 KOs), on the back of knockout wins over Perez and Barroso.

Home favourite confident of success

‘Million Dolla’ Crolla is set to have his usual army of fans in his home city and the WBA lightweight titlist is highly confident of adding another successful chapter to his fairytale career surge.

It’s been an incredible turnaround, with his career being thrown into doubt in 2014 when sustaining a fractured skull and broken ankle from an attack after halting burglars at a neighbour’s house, though he never doubted he could get to this elite level.

“It’s been a right rollercoaster,” admitted Crolla, who is 6/4 to record a points decision win over Linares this weekend.

“You grow as a fighter and a person. I’ve matured later than other fighters and I’ve made a few tweaks in training which have helped too. I feel now I can achieve anything. Confidence is a great thing to be running on and I’m a happy fighter.

“I think beating him will make me the main man…”

“I’ve never doubted I could get to this level but it looked very unlikely at various points.

“I never once thought about packing it in but when I fought Kieran Farrell in 2012 my career was on the line and there was a job waiting for me to start on the Monday morning, because it would have been hard to come back if I had lost that make-or-break fight. I’ve come so far in four years.

“The general view is that Linares is number one at the weight and I think beating him will make me the main man.”

Linares, now 31 years of age, represents a formidable contender for Crolla’s current crown, being a three-weight world champion and is on an applaudable nine-fight winning streak, with seven coming inside the distance, since losing to Sergio Thompson in March 2012.

Linares a threat to Crolla’s crown

The Japan-based Venezuelan secured the WBC strap in 2014 with a fourth-round KO of Javier Prieto, before making solid defences against Kevin Mitchell and Ivan Cano, though he was forced to relinquish the belt due to injury.

He is 11/8 to end Crolla’s superb streak on his travels to Manchester, and 3/1 to secure a stoppage a success, though ‘the Golden Boy’ has endured some period of inactivity, having not fought since October last year.

Crolla faces a seemingly tough test this weekend but he has so far overcome earlier threats of Perez and Barroso comfortably, and the WBA lightweight title holder will aim to enjoy another successful night in his Manchester fortress.

Ryder and Arnfield collide on undercard

On the undercard in Manchester, John Ryder (23-2, 12 KOs) will make his debut in the city against local Lancashire fighter Jack Arnfield (20-2, 5 KOs), with the latter 9/2 to prevail on home turf.

The travelling Islington middleweight is hoping to build on a triumph over respected Sergey Khomitsky earlier in the year and enters at evens to secure a KO victory, while Arnfield is 7/1 to claim his opponent’s WBA international middleweight title via a points win.

Meanwhile, rampantly rising prospect Conor Benn (4-0, 3 KOs) will feature once again, and the son of ‘the Dark Destroyer’ is a huge odds-on 1/100 front runner to dispatch Ross Jameson (1-1) on his latest outing. Though the talented 19-year-old is 16/1 to face an upset in his fifth appearance in the professional ranks.

Callum Johnson (15-0, 10 KOs) and Willbeforce Shihepo (23-8, 17 KOs) will also meet, with the former installed as the 1/7 favourite for success in Manchester, while the latter Namibian is 4/1 to spring a surprise.


Read our extensive boxing archive ahead of the big fight this weekend.

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