Anthony Crolla acknowledges that Jorge Linares will provide him with his toughest test to date – but is confident he can exploit flaws in Linares when they clash for the WBA, WBC Diamond, and vacant Ring magazine Lightweight titles at the Manchester Arena on Saturday night.
Crolla will have home field advantage when the pair meets, an advantage which served him well in his last two outings against Darleys Perez and Ismael Barroso, both of whom were dismissed by Crolla.
Linares is, however, undaunted by travelling to fight and has fought in the UK before – his encounter with Kevin Mitchell last year was a great battle with Linares tasting the canvas in the fifth and rising to stop Mitchell in the tenth.
Whilst such contests have given Crolla respect for Linares, he believes they have also shown weaknesses in Linares.
“I rate Linares very highly,” said Crolla. “He’s technically brilliant. Everyone in the gym loves to watch him fight, and he’s the kind of fighter young kids should watch.
“He likes to fight at his pace and I can’t allow that. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ve got to take advantage of some weaknesses that I think I’ve seen there. I’m confident I can do that.
“I’ve got to be switched on from the opening bell. He’s a very good counter-puncher, so I know I can’t be lazy at any stage. But I genuinely believe I’ll have an answer for whatever he shows me.
“I thought a lot of his win over Kevin was down more to Kevin’s eye getting so bad really. Jorge has had better performances than that, he looked good last time out again Ivan Cano, but I can take a lot from Kevin’s fight. Kevin and I are different fighters but he put on a great performance and was seconds away from winning really, but Jorge dragged himself off the floor and came from behind to get the stoppage and that’s what true champions do. It was a great fight.
“I’m going to have to exchange with him at times and I’m going to have to be cute and make him fall short. Kevin showed that he has weaknesses and there will be times that we trade but I’ve been working hard on my boxing ability and my angles because he’s too good to walk in straight lines, I have to use my brain in the fight – I’ve got to drag every last ounce out of myself to win, and that’s exactly what I am going to do.”
Linares’ clash with Crolla is part of a huge night of action in Manchester as John Ryder defends his WBA International Middleweight title against Jack Arnfield.
Callum Johnson lands his first title action against Willbeforce Shihepo for the Commonwealth Light-Heavyweight title, unbeaten Light-Heavyweight Hosea Burton will be in title action Conor Benn tastes his fifth night of action in the paid ranks.
Tickets are on sale now priced at £40, £60, £80, £100 and £150 and available from the Manchester Arena at www.manchester-arena.com or by calling 0844 847 8000. VIPs tickets are exclusively available through www.matchroomboxing.com priced at £250.
Face value tickets for September 24 will also be available from http://www.stubhub.co.uk/matchroom-boxing-tickets/.