An in-depth look at the Crolla vs Linares 2 undercard and main event tonight.

Boxing’s fabulous start to 2017 continues this weekend, where once again two elite fighters in their respective division clash in a highly anticipated and excellently matched contest.

Jorge Linares and Anthony Crolla have served up a thrilling tide changing 12 rounds already, and the pair are expected to do so again in Manchester tonight.

The WBA Lightweight crown switched hands last September when Linares defeated Crolla in his backyard of the Manchester Arena – where they once again will exchange friendly fire.

The Venezuelan ‘Golden Boy’ has grown in front of our eyes.

He looked a star in the making before defeats to Juan Carlos Salgado (2009), and then back-to-back stoppages at the hands of Antonio DeMarco (2011) and Sergio Thompson (2012), seemed to extinguish the flame that looked set to burn so brightly.

But many had forgot that Linares 41-3(27KO’s) was still just 26 at the time of his third defeat, and he has duly delivered a remarkable run of form during what many believe to be his prime years.

A 10-fight winning streak has seen Linares lift the WBC and now WBA Lightweight crowns. And on tonight he will look to make it 3-0 vs UK fighters on British soil – having already beaten Kevin Mitchell as well as Crolla in two of his last three world title fights.

For Crolla 31-5-3(13KO’s) this is another opportunity to disprove the theory that nice guys always finish last.

Highlights of Crolla vs Linares 1:

Crolla has done that his entire career, overcoming early career defeats, a seemingly devastating defeat to Derry Mathews, and multiple other setbacks on the way to finally winning a world title.

A brutal attack outside of the ring only heightened everyone’s desire to see one of boxing’s nicest guys win against all the odds.

Crolla may not possess the greatest power, speed or skill, but his will to win and honest ability to stick to a game plan came close to delivering the goods again when clashing with Linares.

But after the course of the fight seemed to be heading in Anthony’s direction, a hurtful punch and a champions finish to the contest from Linares, relieved Crolla of his world champion status.

The contest proved tough at times for Linares, but his previous beatings have hardened him for battles like this, and the concern once again for Crolla is that Linares’ higher skill level and renewed willpower during the tough moments of the contest will once again be too much to win.

Whatever Crolla’s game plan is, the feeling is that it will not be good enough to beat Linares at his best.

His best chance once again seems to rely on capitalising on any momentum he is able to draw when the contest heats up.

Linares will look to keep that momentum at bay for as long as possible, or when it does come along he will tough it out in order to repel it.

There is a chance however, that this time around Linares is not able to break Crolla before he hits full steam, and if that is the case, then the hometown favourite could chop away at Linares, before breaking through to claw back the title he fought so brilliantly to win and then defend in successive knockout wins.

But while Crolla may have noticed many wrongs that he has the chance to right from their first meeting, the belief is that he is in deep this time around.

Any nerves of what to expect from the crowd and from Crolla will have been dealt with in the first contest for Linares, and now with the victory in his sails the visitor will be drenched in confidence.

If Crolla saves his energy for a couple of rounds once again, then he could be left with the same result at the end of the fight, with Jorge responding to any rally that Crolla starts at around the 4th or 5th round mark.

While if Anthony looks towards a quicker start then after fireworks early, Linares may begin to take over as the fight heads past the half way mark, forcing Crolla into an uncomfortable environment in the later rounds, where Linares could possibly pick up a late stoppage win.

So it seems that something special will be needed from the challenger to reclaim his throne. Maybe sensing that this will be his one and only shot to reach the top once more, he will throw everything he can to remain on top heading into the championship rounds.

Summoning a ridiculous tank of energy to keep Linares’ late charge at bay may be his best chance to come up trumps after 12 rounds.

But after giving his all for 12 hard fought rounds, the verdict from the judges should be unanimous in the favour of the champion.

Crolla vs Linares 2 Undercard

On the undercard there are several all British match-ups of interest.

Brian Rose goes up against Jack Arnfield in somewhat of a crossroads clash. Rose 29-4-1(8KO’s) still has fading ambitions of reaching world level, but now his move up to Middleweight may not prove so fruitful in that desire.

Plenty of needle in this one – hat tip and credit: IFL TV YouTube

Still this all-Blackpool contest with Arnfield 23-2(6KO’s) should see Rose show too much experience against the former British title challenger and holder of the WBA International title contested tonight.

Martin J. Ward and Maxi Hughes lock horns for a third time in the pro ranks, but after the first contest was declared a draw, this trilogy holds far less intrigue after Ward looked decisive in a retirement victory in the rematch two years ago.

Ward 16-0-2(8KO’s) has gone on to win the British title he defends tonight, but looked to be in trouble late on during his last outing against Ronnie Clark.

Hughes 16-2-2(2KO’s) has been out of the ring for nearly a year, and won’t be able to match the output of Ward for too long after the halfway mark in this outing. Ward to win inside 8.

Marcus Morrison has a great opportunity himself to further develop his heavy prospects at Middleweight, and should prove too big for the always exciting Black Country fighter, Jason Welborn.

Morrison 14-0(10KO’s) is highly regarded in the Matchroom stable, but this proves a step up in class.

Welborn 20-6(7KO’s) has flirted with the best of British at both Welterweight and Super Welterweight, but always came up short in entertaining fashion.

Welborn has pushed Craig Cunningham and Matthew Macklin to the brink, and should he produce the same energy and ferocity against Morrison then the young Mancunian is in for a tough night.

However, despite sharing the ring with bigger fighters on multiple occasions, Morrison is in his natural weight division and won’t take Welborn lightly at all.

Morrison can make a significant statement, halting an exciting contest during the closing rounds.