By Robert Dominguez
He’ll be back in hostile territory again, but Jorge Linares says he won’t be intimidated into giving back the lightweight belt he took from Anthony Crolla in their first fight last September in Manchester, England.
Linares, the Venezuelan fighter known as the Golden Boy, upset the Manchester born-and-bred Crolla in a 12-round unanimous decision that gave Linares, the incoming WBC Diamond champ, Crolla’s WBA belt as well as the vacant Ring Magazine Lightweight title.
“I wasn’t supposed to win, but I’m glad I did so I can come back,” said the 31-year-old Linares (41-3, 27 KOs), who joined Crolla at a press conference in Manchester Jan. 24 to tout their upcoming bout on March 25. “The belts mean so much to me and my country, and I am going to work very hard to make sure that I take them home again.
“It’s a new year and a new day, Anthony is going to be better and hungrier, and that means I will work harder, come with more skill and an even better game plan to win.”
He’s going to need it. Crolla’s tough loss in front of his hometown fans makes him a more determined and focused fighter this time around, he said.
“I want the belt back, simple,” said Crolla (31-5-3, 15 KOs). “I’m so lucky to have a second chance and it’s one I have to take. It was a special night last time, great crowd and it’ll be even bigger this time. The setting was perfect but I lost my belt. I lost to a great fighter but I don’t celebrate losing, I don’t want to feel it again and I want to go down in history by beating a great fighter. I am better in rematches and I’m locking myself away to work harder and smarter to make sure these belts stay here.
“Jorge is the best and I want to be the best – beating him stakes my claim,” Crolla added. “I didn’t win the first one but I had success and I can work on that…I believe if I make the right changes for the fight I will take the titles.”
The rematch, on March 25 at the Manchester Arena, is presented by Matchroom Boxing in association with Golden Boy Promotions. The fight will be broadcast in the U.S. On Showtime.