Linares: Like a fine wine
By: Johnston Brown – BillyCBoxing.com
Jorge Linares defended his WBA Lightweight and Ring Magazine titles with a comprehensive victory over Anthony Crolla at the Manchester Arena. The Venezuelan was in full control of the fight and showed why he is considered one of the best in his Division. Like a fine wine the 31 year old just seems to get better and better with age.
The Mancunian crowd was in full voice as they sang Anthony Crolla’s name in a deafening atmosphere, after a rousing rendition of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline. When the first bell rang and there was an air of expectation that revenge was on the cards and not a repeat from the first encounter. Like when Hatton beat Kostya Tszyu in the same venue and when Froch put on a vintage performance against Lucian Bute. Unfortunately for Crolla that was not the case, instead we witnessed a master class from the three weight world champion El Niño de Oro (Golden Boy).
The first round was very tentative from both fighters, Linares was trying to find his range and Crolla was working the body well. Crolla shades the first three but from the second round on, it was Linares who really started to find his groove.
Every time Crolla tried to get close Linares would come back with spiteful combinations that forced the Manchurian back. The left uppercut and over hand right were most effective in the third and fourth rounds as the champ started to establish a lead.
In rounds five and six Crolla continued to bounce around in a hungry fashion but the sharpness and devastating hand speed from the Venezuelan was just too much for valiant challenger, who now had a cut to contend with at the end of the sixth.
Then in the seventh the 30 year old was caught with a thudding uppercut that stunned Crolla and placed him on his backside. To his credit he managed survive the onslaught and make it to the end of the round.
After the knockdown in the last round, his cut getting worse and way behind on the scorecards the Mancunian managed to produce his two best rounds in eight and nine. Weather that was because Linares wanted to reserve his energy or he was starting to feel the pace I’m not sure but credit to Crolla for continuing to make a fight if it.
Linares then restored order in rounds ten and eleven as he continued to throw spiteful shots into the body and head. Being the wrong side of 30 you could forgive the champ for taking his foot off the gas but age is just number as he continued his relentless pursuit.
It looked like Crolla’s seconds were going to pull their fighter out at the end of the eleventh, as Joe Gallagher asked ref Howard Forster to call it a night. But Crolla pleaded with his corner to let him play out the final round, which he did.
All three judges had the fight 118-109, all in favour of Jorge Linares. I had it 117-110 to ‘El Niño de Oro’
Once again Linares conquered in Britain, the first time he knocked out Kevin Mitchell at the O2 in London and now in Manchester for the second time in front of 15,000 adoring Crolla fans. This guy is the real deal and deserves his wish to fight in Vegas next against Micky Garcia in what would be a terrific fight for the Lightweight Division.
Speaking through a translator, Linares says Crolla has “big balls” for lasting the 12 rounds tonight. Plenty of thanks to the team and to the Manchester crowd.
After the fight Crolla said, “He’s a fantastic fighter, I’m just sorry I couldn’t do it for you tonight. I believe I can come again. I’m just going to go away, spend time with family, friends, then sit down and take it from there. I lost to the better man. I’m just really sorry.”
Middleweight Jack Arnfield 24-2(6KOs) W Brian Rose 29-5-1(8KOs) 12 Rd UD
Middleweight Jason Welborn 21-6(7KOs) W Marcus Morrison 14-1(14KOs) 10 Rd UD
Lightweight Katie Taylor 4-0(2KOs) W Mileno Koleva 9-8-1(3KOs) 8 Rd UD
Super Featherweight Martin Joseph Ward 17-0-2(8KOs) W Maxi Hughes 16-3-2(2KOs) 12 Rd UD
Light Heavyweight Karel Horejsek 8-7-2(7KOs) W Rd 1 TKO Tomi Tatham 11-2(5KOs)
Light Heavyweight Hosea Burton 19-1(9KOs) W Tamas Kozma 5-3-2(2KOs) 8 Rd PTS
Middleweight Ben Sheedy 6-0(2KOs) W Rob Brown 2-5(1KOs) 6 Rd PTS
Super Bantamweight Sean McGoldrick 1-0 W Brett Fidoe 7-36-2(5KOs) 4 Rd PTS
Cruiserweight Lawrence Okolie 1-0(1KO) W Rd 1 TKO Geoffrey Cave 0-3
*Okolie is one to look out for in the future
The ‘Mecca’ of British Boxing
By: Johnston Brown – BillyCBoxing
Built in 1929, it was opened by the Duke of York and initially used as Turkish Baths and is now a Grade II listed building. York Hall nearly met its grim reaper in 2004 when Tower Hamlets Council planned to demolish it. After public outrage and a successful protest a 15 year deal was made with Greenwich Leisure, which brought in a multi-million pound face lift and the spiritual home of British boxing was saved. Since then the historic venue has once again become the ‘Mecca’ of British Boxing and will continue to churn out the future stars of today.
The East London venue is steeped with a colourful boxing history and was rightly voted as one of six best places in the world to watch live boxing. Recent ‘Blast from the Pasts’ on BillyCBoxing.com, Nigel Benn and Johnny Nelson both fought at the famous venue in 1988 and 1990 respectively. Boxing Hall of Famers Lennox Lewis and Joe Calzaghe both recorded early knock out victories right at the beginning of their glamorous careers. Other Great British fighters that have also toddled on the Hall’s canvas include MBE’s Ricky Hatton and Carl Froch plus overseas legends Edwin Rosario and Frankie Randall fought a terrific ten rounder while Tim Witherspoon and Johnny Tapia have also made cameo appearances.
In recent times, current IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua fought his third professional fight against Croat Hrboje Kisicek with Michael Watson and Larry Holmes ringside. I remember the former heavyweight champion giving young AJ advice after his fight, as the star struck champ took in every word. Former featherweight champion Carl Frampton also laced up in the legendary hall in his twelfth professional fight and second appearance when he defended his Commonwealth Super-Bantamweight title.
On Friday night York Hall hosted the first instalment of Matchroom Boxing’s Nextgen series that was broadcast live on Sky Sports and Facebook. The new format will showcase their young prospects and give them the opportunity to headline events, like the aforementioned fighters once did before them. The 1,200 capacity venue were in full voice with the overlooking balconies looming over the fighters as they produced some excellent fights for those in attendance and watching at home. James DeGale was among those watching in the crowd, another current champ that graced the Hall’s ring when he outpointed Shawn Porter in the England v USA international tournament in 2007.
British Boxing rival Boxnation aired for the first time at York Hall in 2011 when Liam Walsh, who takes on Gervonta Davis on May 20 at London’s Copper Box Arena, beat Paul Appleby for the Commonwealth Super-Featherweight title, which got voted the British Fight of the Year. Boxnation is a major supporter of World Series Boxing and show all the live action on their channel which in effect gives their young stars a chance of exposer to the public. This year the East London venue is the rightful home to the British Lionhearts and I will be in attendance for their second encounter with the France Fighting Roosters on April 6.
This venue is already legendary but with these young prospects continuing to shine bright, the shady old lady will continue to enhance its unique reputation. Thankfully, York Hall survived the scare of closure 14 years ago, it managed to beat the count and live to fight another day.