March 22, 2017
March 22, 2017
jorge linares

Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

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JORGE LINARES hopes Anthony Crolla has done all that he can to prepare for their highly-anticipated rematch in Manchester this weekend.

Linares returns to Manchester Arena on Saturday to defend the WBA lightweight title he won from Crolla in a barnburner last year.

Having entered their first fight off the back of a spell of relative inactivity, Linares intends to outdo his performance last time round, which earned him a unanimous decision.

“Crolla could come better prepared than last time. Maybe he will throw more punches, maybe he will box more, I don’t really know,” he said.

“The most important thing is I hope he has worked really hard and comes in great condition so there are no excuses and no doubts after the fight.

“I can fight even better this time.  Before the first fight I had a broken right hand and I hadn’t fought for a while. That’s always a factor, you know?  Inactivity.  I haven’t had any issues physically or mentally, so the preparation has been great.  We did 129 rounds of sparring and everything has gone well up to this point.”

For this camp, Crolla has been locked away and trained in isolation, preventing distractions from hampering his preparations.

Linares respects the decision, but is planning on pevailing again and eyeing fights with the likes of WBC champion Mikey Garcia, who the victor on Saturday night must face next.

“I know he has been quiet in the build-up, I don’t mind if he hasn’t spoken much lately.  Let’s just hope it’s a clean fight like the first one,” he said.

“The plans are in the future to get the biggest fights.  Obviously the priority right now is to stay focused on Saturday but then I’ll look towards the big fights like against Mikey Garcia.”

Linares stages most of his camp in trainer Ismael Salas’ gym in Las Vegas and insists his decision to team up with Salas a few years ago was a wise one.

“I really think coming to train with Ismael Salas made the difference.  It’s what helped me really establish myself as a professional fighter and to gain more experience,” he said.

“We learn ‘old school’ as Salas always says.  It really has worked well for me in the two years I’ve been with him.”

“I feel really good because this time we had a lot more time to prepare.  We did some of the training camp in Japan and then eight weeks in Las Vegas.”