Crolla vs Linares: The Panel on what Anthony Crolla needs to do to beat Jorge Linares
Nelson, Froch, Bellew, Oliver, Moore and Bellew
Last Updated: 24/09/16 10:27pm
Anthony Crolla is without doubt taking on his toughest opponent to date in the shape of Jorge Linares, so what does he need to do to win?
The Venezuelan is a three-weight world champion and even though the Mancunian is the bookies' favourite, we asked The Panel for their tactical verdict.
Here's what Sky Sports' boxing experts think Crolla needs to do to write another successful chapter in his fairy-tale rise to the top...
In Crolla's recent big fights, I have to say he's proved me wrong, putting on such good performances - but I still think there is more to come from him. He has stuck to the gameplan, tucked up tight and boxed tight with discipline. We've seen that in the last two fights and I think we will see that again.
This going to be a tough, tough night but Crolla has got so much in his arsenal, I have made a U-turn. I know Ant has got more in the locker. I think we will see the Crolla we have seen before but don't under-estimate this lad like I might have done - he can hit, he can tuck up and he is smart. He will organise his onslaughts and show he is even better than we've seen to date.
You don't become a three-weight world champion unless you can fight and we saw that when Linares beat Kevin Mitchell. But we also saw he is vulnerable; he is an on-top fighter who wants things his own way and when he gets ruffled he looks like a different fighter. Doing that will be the key to Crolla winning this.
He's just got to stay there, keep chipping away and chipping away and he can break him down. It's not just basic pressure but it has to be educated pressure.
Against Barroso the pressure was enough but Crolla has to be smarter against Linares. He will need to systematically break him down and I think we'll see more of the old Crolla, who can box very, very well.
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It's a tough question because I don't think Crolla is better technically than Linares, who in that respect is probably the best lightweight in the world. I would say it's impossible for Ant to out-box him so he has to stay away from a slow, clever fight and turn up the heat and make the work-rate the base for him to win.
I want to see Ant make a fast start and then keep ramping the pace up with each and every round. This is a different level beyond those last two fights and physically, emotionally and win the crowd behind him he really has to push, push, push him all the way.
Crolla has improved so much in the past 18 months. His natural attributes are his good lateral movement, his tight defence, a good jab. It's not a conventional, sharp-shooting jab - he drops low and comes back up, it's hard to read.
He'll need to use those attributes and use bits that Kevin Mitchell used against Linares.
Linares is a terrific fighter but he showed vulnerabilities against Mitchell and Crolla can exploit those. His body-work will be essential - take Linares' legs away, because he's not getting any younger. Set a nice, high pace - not necessarily on the front foot.
I just think Crolla needs to do what we've seen him do since he won that world title. He's got a good defence, a high guard and he doesn't really do anything wrong and we know Linares will try and look for mistakes.
It is not just about soaking up the pressure and then kicking on on though. Crolla can box a bit but he also likes that come-forward style and getting in range, landing those shots, especially that bodyshot.
Yes Linares can be slick but what Crolla is doing works, so why change it?
We know Linares isn't the best starter and I want to see Crolla get to his body early and show his age and how many miles he's got on the clock so he can break him down but he has to be smarter and more varied than he has had to be before.
Crolla likes to come forward with his hands up high, nice and tight, but Linares is heavy-handed and if Crolla does get nailed on the way in, that could be trouble. His defence on the way in needs to be sharp, he needs to make Linares waste his shots, miss with that big, looping left hook and then get in, hard and fast.
Watch Crolla v Linares, live on Sky Sports 2 this Saturday from 7.30pm.