Linares determined for Crolla KO, plans for huge 2017

WBA lightweight champion, Jorge Linares, aims to go one step further than his first encounter with Anthony Crolla by forcing the stoppage.

The three-weight world champion won their first battle via a unanimous decision – scores of 115-114, 115-113 & 117-111 saw the Venezuelan claim Crolla’s WBA strap.

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The 31-year-old answered the critics with an exceptional performance on September 24

Both fighters are preparing for the rematch which takes place on March 25 at the Manchester Arena, and Linares believes a stoppage is certainly achievable.

“I think the opportunity is there to get a knockout,” he said. “The people liked it, they loved it, but people say there was doubts.

“I know I can steal the show with a decision much more clearer and the most clear would be a knockout.”

The 31-year-old previously held the WBC lightweight title, which he successfully defended twice in 2015 – one being the memorable war against Kevin Mitchell, but Linares was stripped of his belt due to a fractured right hand ruling him of a mandatory defence.

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Liners injured both hands during their first fight – his right causing particular grief

After an 11-month absence due to injury, Linares brilliantly outboxed Crolla, but again, hand problems almost overshadowed the victory.

“It [the stoppage] presented itself in the sixth round but I hurt both of my hands, they felt really bad,” Linares said.

“From the sixth [round] onwards I could only work with my left hand. When they took the gloves off, my right hand was super swollen.

“Thank god it wasn’t because of the fracture I had but I prepared for twelve rounds and the important thing was my hand was raised and there were no doubts.”

With another dominant performance against Crolla in Manchester, the four-time world titleholder will be searching for further success, with aspirations to fight Mikey Garcia in the future.

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If successful on March 25, Linares wants to face 29-year-old Mikey Garcia

The current WBC champion, Dejan Zlaticanin, faces Mikey Garcia on the undercard of Carl Frampton v Leo Santa Cruz on January 28, and Linares favours the American to remain undefeated.

“That’s going to be a good fight because Dejan [Zlaticanin] is hungry, Mikey [Garcia] is coming back and he’s in his prime now,” he said.

“The inactivity has affected him just a little bit but he’s a champion, a boxer that has a lot of experience in his career.

“I’m being sincere, I don’t think Mikey should have too many problems in that fight. I wish him the best, my heart is more with him because I see a fight with him down the road so it would be interesting.”

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Linares expects Garcia to be a task too great for WBC champ, Dejan Zlaticanin

Linares added: “I study so much, but believe me I’ve been studying Mikey Garcia for a long time.”

The Venezuelan is preparing for a brutal, yet hugely defining 2017, where he hopes to challenge the very best, and another mouth-watering matchup is against double Olympic gold medallist, and current WBO super-featherweight champion, Vasyl Lomachenko.

Linares feels there’s plenty of options for him and Golden Boy Promotions to evaluate, but insists staying focused on the task ahead is key.

“Like I’ve always said, you got to take advantage of opportunity and you got to keep focus because this year is going to be hard for me,” he said.

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Another superb matchup Linares has shown interest to, is Vasyl Lomachenko 

“There’s mention of [Vasyl] Lomachenko, there’s talk of [Terry] Flanagan, the other English guy, so we will have to see what happens for us in 2017.

“I think I’ll do two or three more at 135 and then I’ll move up to 140lbs.”

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