Anthony Crolla says only “a career-best performance” against rematch rival Jorge Linares in his home city of Manchester will see him regain the WBA lightweight title.
Venezuela’s ‘El Nino de Oro’ scored a unanimous points win when the pair last met in September at the Manchester Arena to inflict a first defeat in 10 fights on Crolla.
The popular Mancunian knows he needs a career-defining display to dethrone Linares, who will also put his Ring Magazine belt on the line.
Approximately 20,000 raucous locals are expected to pack into the same venue – the scene of Ricky Hatton’s famous IBF super-lightweight title win against heavy favourite Kostya Tszyu in 2005 – and Crolla is hoping the wave of home support will carry him through against the three-weight world champion.
“Winning it back on Saturday would, without doubt, be the highlight of my career,” the Manchester fighter, who is targeting a super-fight with WBC champion Mikey Garcia in Las Vegas, told reporters.
“There’s a lot of people out there who think there’s no way I can beat Jorge Linares. Jorge is a great fighter but I’ll prove an awful lot of people wrong.
“I’m a realist. I know it’s going to take a career-best performance.”
Linares, who has contested only four of his 44 professional bouts in his homeland of Venezuela, promised there will be no home comforts for Crolla because he is better prepared than he was back in September.
He told reporters: “I’m coming in and doing whatever is necessary to win more convincingly than I did in September.”
Linares is currently trading 1.50 in the Dafabet fight prices and the draw outcome is quoted 23.00. Crolla is available to back at 2.63.