Britain lost another of its decreasing slew of ‘world’ champions on Saturday night when Jorge Linares relieved Anthony Crolla of the WBA lightweight strap in a spirited affair at the Manchester Arena.
Gutsy and steadfast throughout, Crolla survived a few rocky moments , most notably at the end of round 5, to collect the short end of a unanimous decision. Predictably, and in spite of the Venezuelan’s relative mastery, two of the scoring judges had it unreasonably close with cards of 115-114 and 115-113 but Panama’s Guillermo Perez Pineda saw it 117-111 which seemed more reflective.
Numerous fair-minded neutrals expressed fears on social media that Linares might get robbed if the fight went the distance and even the flimsiest of cases could be made for the home fighter but the occasion was mercifully unmarred by incompetence or skullduggery.
Scoring is highly subjective, as we are constantly reminded but if Crolla wasn’t exactly given a boxing lesson then he was at least present at a seminar.
The essential difference on Saturday night was what fight fans like to call ‘levels’. Linares, in staking his claim to be the world’s premier 135 pounder, had a bit too much of everything for Crolla’s honest craft and one-dimensional pressure.
It would be churlish to criticise Joe Gallagher unduly but the oft cited accusation that he tends to produce a conveyor belt of come forward fighters who rely on conditioning, work rate and a high guard while generally being devoid of flair and versatility has a skein of truth in it.
The defending champion seldom took a backward step throughout the 12 pounds but Linares’ ability to box while going backwards and his fluid combination punching proved the perfect antidote to Crolla’s unwavering aggression.
Pre fight optimism for the eminently likeable Mancunian focussed on the challenger’s recent inactivity, Jorge having lain dormant for almost a year prior to the first bell on Saturday night.