Anthony Crolla, Katie Taylor and Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez set for landmark fights

Crolla, Taylor and Alvarez each compete in key fights on Saturday night
Crolla, Taylor and Alvarez each compete in key fights on Saturday night
Taylor v Linardatou & Crolla v Urquiaga
Venue: Manchester Arena Date: Saturday, 2 November
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live; live text commentary on BBC Sport website & app from around 20:30 GMT

A landmark women's bout, an emotional farewell and one of boxing's "greats" bidding to enhance his already formidable reputation.

Saturday night sees three fights - two in Manchester and one at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas - likely to produce a host of talking points by Sunday morning.

Can Anthony Crolla end his career in style in his home city? Can Katie Taylor hold world titles at two weights? And will Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez showcase exactly why he is boxing's best-paid fighter by jumping up in weight to win another title?

The Mexican faces a big challenge, according to the 5 Live Boxing team.

Taylor tops the bill and moves up...

Katie Taylor

Ireland's former Olympic champion Taylor remains unbeaten since turning professional.

Her 14 wins have seen her secure all four world belts in the 135lb lightweight division but the 33-year-old continues to say she wants to change the face of women's boxing.

A win at Manchester Arena would earn her the WBO world title in the 140lb light-welterweight category. In her way is Christina Linardatou of Greece. The 31-year-old has just one defeat - to the woman who Taylor controversially edged on points last time - Delfine Persoon.

Taylor has had over five months off since that win in New York - which many ringside observers thought she lost - and so how she responds to what has been her longest break since turning professional in 2016 might determine the outcome.

"This is the longest camp I have had for a professional fight," said Taylor. "I'm in against bigger and stronger girls now. I have the chance to be a two-weight world champion and make history, so it's a huge night for me."

A win for Taylor could potentially lead to a bout with Norway's Cecilia Braekhus, who holds all four titles a division higher at welterweight.

"Some people feel an obligation to put on women's sport; I am not from that mould," said promoter Eddie Hearn. "If it's good, I want to put it on. Show me a bad Taylor fight. It doesn't exist. She is a trailblazer."

BBC Radio 5 Live boxing analyst Steve Bunce: "Taylor has dragged the sport forward and she is stepping up here. She had nowhere else to go and I think she is facing one of the more dangerous super-lightweight champions."

BBC Sport boxing correspondent Mike Costello: "From what I have seen of Linardatou and heard from those around her, I think this will be another test for Taylor. Taylor has eight world title fights; six have gone the distance. The pattern is emerging and she will have to use that boxing ability."

Overachiever Crolla set for one last night

Anthony Crolla

Before Taylor fights, Crolla will walk to the ring for the final time at Manchester Arena as he prepares for retirement after facing Spain's Frank Urquiaga, a man beaten once in 15 outings, for the WBA continental lightweight title.

The 32-year-old's final fight caps a remarkable career that saw him progress from featuring in the 'float' bouts held back by broadcasters and slotted in to running orders to fill time on fight nights, to world champion in 2015.

Promoter Hearn has praised Crolla for squeezing "every drop" out of his talent in order to reach the top.

"I had float slots, being last on cards, opening cards - it's not been in front of thousands always and it's not all glitz and glamour," said Manchester's Crolla.

"No drug can give you the high that boxing gives you, I really believe that. It will never be fully met but maybe training fighters, some punditry, that will feed that hunger as best I possibly can."

It looks set to be an emotional night at the same arena where Crolla watched concerts as a child, made his professional debut, won a world title, lost a world title and where he will, after 45 fights, bow out.

Media playback is not supported on this device

Anthony Crolla on love of boxing, fans and retirement

Costello: "In the modern era, Crolla won his world title after four defeats and two draws... that just doesn't happen."

Bunce: "Crolla won a world title after almost vanishing. Eddie Hearn said he overachieved. Really, overachieving is shorthand for training your guts out.

"The guy coming over has only stopped one person. Listen, we don't have testimonial fights in our game. I have been at enough final fights where it has gone wrong. I think in the opponent, they have found the perfect man for a goodbye in front of a home crowd who have turned out for Crolla in the last 13 years."

Has risk-taker Canelo gone too far?

Canelo Alvarez

And hours after the Manchester event, Alvarez fights for the 56th time in a Vegas bout many believe represents his biggest risk to date.

Having held versions of a world title at light-middleweight, middleweight and super-middleweight, he will try to take Sergey Kovalev's WBO world light-heavyweight championship.

Alvarez, who had his first professional fight aged 15 in 2005, weighed 139lbs on his debut yet now steps into the 175lbs division.

What is more, he faces a man in Kovalev who has spent every minute of his 38-fight career at light-heavyweight and is a power puncher who has been in world-title bouts in his past 16 outings.

Alvarez, described as a "thrill seeker" by some in the sport, says he simply wants to "make history". Kovalev, now 36, stands four inches taller and says he can "prove one more time" that he is the "best in the division".

Speaking to the 5 Live Boxing Podcast, Hearn said he was intrigued by the fight and added: "Think about where Canelo came from - you can bet your life it was pretty tough. He has got it all now, so how do you not become soft?

"Only the great ones maintain that steeliness. Canelo is a great. When things get really tough, how soft have you gone? Once you've gone soft in this game you may as well pack your bags and go."

Costello: "I find this fight compelling. Canelo is so much smaller than Kovalev. I find it fascinating to see how quickly Canelo can impose his style, using his greater speed and taking advantage of what he says is Kovalev's weakness. He says that means attacking the body.

"The perception is that Kovalev is cashing out as there is so much money on the table."

Bunce: "He might not be as good as he was but there are no clear signs that Kovalev is shot to pieces. He will be in the best shape of his life - it's beyond intriguing.

"If Kovalev senses this guy can't hurt me at this weight, that only adds to the intrigue."

Top Stories