Linares outpoints Crolla to win WBA lightweight title
Three-weight world champion Jorge Linares (41-3, 27 KOs) outpointed WBA lightweight champion Anthony Crolla (31-5-3, 13 KOs) on Saturday night at the Manchester Arena.
It was a close, hard-fought battle, but Linares' combinations and counter-punching earned him a unanimous decision by scores of 115-114, 117-111 and 115-113.
Linares did the better work in the early rounds, landing hard shots to the head and body.
But the hometown fighter came back with some shots of his own in the fourth and fifth rounds and cut Linares above the left eye.
Crolla continued to press the action in a thrilling sixth and seemed to be winning the round until Linares rocked him with a big right hook which had the Briton in trouble on the ropes.
However, Crolla recovered well and was busier than Linares in rounds seven to nine.
But the Venezuelan finished strongly by landing some heavy shots with fast combinations in the 10th. Crolla kept pressing in the 11th, but Linares kept countering.
Both fighters, with cuts above their eyes, was on the offensive in the 12th, trading blows until the bell to end the entertaining fight.
Linares said: "We gave Manchester a beautiful fight, and we should do it again.
"I think I hurt him a couple of times and I saw him rock, but I didn't want to be too aggressive. I wanted to be intelligent. And that's what I did."
Crolla said: "It was close. I've got no complaints."
In addition to capturing Crolla's WBA title, Linares also picked up the WBC Diamond and Ring magazine belts. His next opponent is likely to be WBC champion Dejan Zlaticanin (22-0, 15 KOs).
Linares was stripped of the WBC title earlier this year because he was unable to defend the belt due to a hand injury.