Anthony Crolla sees flaws in WBA lightweight challenger Linares

Anthony Crolla and Ismael Barroso
Anthony Crolla ended Ismael Barroso's challenge in the seventh round of their contest in May
World title fight: Crolla v Linares
Venue: Manchester Arena Date: Saturday 24 September Time: Ringwalk 22:30 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

Britain's Anthony Crolla admits Jorge Linares is the best opponent he has faced but believes he will expose his weaknesses when they meet on Saturday.

Crolla, 29, will make the second defence of his WBA lightweight title against Linares at Manchester Arena.

In his only fight on British soil last May, Japan-based Venezuelan Linares stopped Kevin Mitchell in 10 rounds.

"I rate Linares very highly but I genuinely believe I'll have an answer for whatever he shows me," said Crolla.

On Friday, Crolla weighed in 3lb heavier than Linares at 9st 8lb 5oz.

"He's technically brilliant and I've got to be switched on from the opening bell. He's a very good counter-puncher, so I know I can't be lazy at any stage," said Crolla.

"He likes to fight at his pace and I can't allow that. I've got to take advantage of some weaknesses that I think I've seen there. I'm confident I can do that.

"Kevin Mitchell was seconds away from winning but Jorge dragged himself off the floor and came from behind to get the stoppage. That's what true champions do."

Kevin Mitchell and Jorge Linares
Linares (right) stopped Kevin Mitchell in 10 rounds in his last visit to Britain last May

Crolla is the favourite with the bookmakers but his 31-year-old challenger has plenty of championship pedigree.

Linares is a former world champion at featherweight and super-featherweight and his stoppage of Mitchell was the penultimate defence of the WBC lightweight title.

On that occasion, Linares climbed off the canvas in the fifth round before clubbing the game Londoner into submission.

Linares has not fought since a fourth-round knockout of Mexico's Ivan Cano last October. He vacated the WBC title in February and was subsequently declared the governing body's 'champion in recess'.

"I love fighting in my opponent's back yard, with all the noise that comes with it from their fans," said Linares, who has 40 wins from 43 professional fights, with 27 knockouts.

"The supporters cannot get in the ring with their fighter, it's just me and him."

As well as Crolla's WBA belt, the coveted Ring magazine lightweight belt will also be up for grabs on Saturday.

Crolla won the WBA title with a fifth-round knockout of Colombian Darleys Perez last November before stopping Linares' compatriot Ismael Barroso in May.

Crolla has 31 wins (13 KOs), four defeats and three draws from 38 pro fights. Victory over Linares could pave the way for a unification bout against WBO champion and fellow Mancunian Terry Flanagan.

On the undercard, London's John Ryder defends his lightly-regarded WBA International middleweight title against Jack Arnfield of Blackpool.

Boston's Callum Johnson fights Namibia's Willbeforce Shihepo for the vacant Commonwealth light-heavyweight title, while Conor Benn has his fifth fight in the paid ranks.

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