Exclusive: Zlaticanin has no problem with Crolla v Linares, but won’t recognize unification status

Amanda Westcott

Newly crowned WBC lightweight champion Dejan Zlaticanin has given his immediate reaction to the World Boxing Council decision to allow Jorge Linares to fight for their ‘Diamond’ belt.

Linares was made ‘Champion in Recess’ by the WBC due to his failure to defend against Zlaticanin through injury but has now signed on to face WBA belt holder Anthony Crolla on September 24 in Manchester.

Matchroom Boxing and WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman announced that the fight would be a unification for the WBC and WBA championships, whilst the Ring Magazine strap will also be on the line due to Linares currently being rated as the number one at 135 pounds.

Zlaticanin seems to have been overlooked by Crolla in a bid by promoter Eddie Hearn to give the fans a more appealing encounter, although the Montenegrin isn’t too worried and will await the winner as ruled by the WBC on Tuesday.

“I think that’s correct decision and I think the Mr. Mauricio Sulaiman knows what he is doing,” Zlaticanin exclusively told World Boxing News.

“I think it’s a 50-50 fight and of course, I would like a fight to happen against the winner.”

Asked whether he thinks it is correct that contest is being labelled a unification, Zlaticanin said: “Of course not. It’s not unification as I’m the world champion. Crolla and Linares fight for Diamond belt – so that’s not unification.”

On when he expects to be back in the ring and if he believes a defence in his home country would be possible, the 32 year-old added: “I expect to defend my title soon and whenever my team make the decision I will be ready.

“Ideally, I would like to defend it in Montenegro but it is very difficult to organize that and I think it will be more likely to be in the USA.”