Linares (41-3, 27 KOs) dethroned Crolla (31-5-3, 13 KOs) in a close, back-and-forth battle last September in Manchester to capture the WBA crown. The Sept. 24 match was the first time the three-division titlist Linares was pushed the 12-round distance in his nine career world title fights.
Crolla has had success in immediate rematches. In 2015, he challenged Darley Perez for the WBA Lightweight Title and fought to a draw. Four months later, he knocked out Perez in five rounds to win the 135-pound title.
WBC Lightweight World Champion Mikey Garcia will join the SHOWTIME BOXING INTERNATIONAL announce team as a guest analyst alongside host Brian Custer and analysts Al Bernstein and Paulie Malignaggi.
Garcia (36-0, 30 KOs), who won the WBC belt in emphatic fashion this January on SHOWTIME, may be scouting his future opponent – the WBC has mandated that the winner of Linares-Crolla II must face Garcia.
Here’s what the fighters had to say at Thursday’s press conference:
“I know once again I have everyone against me in his backyard, but that’s why I trained hard.
“I’m not coming in here feeling like the champion. I’m coming in here feeling like the challenger because I know I have to win very clear to go back home with a win.
“It’s going to be a different Crolla this time. I have to perform like I know I can to defend my belts.
“I had a great camp. I’m anxious. I can’t wait to show you on Saturday night, put it all together and return home with my belts.”
“I’ve always been better going in as the underdog. I know on Saturday night I’m going to need to be the very best Anthony Crolla to beat Jorge Linares. I really believe that if I show the improvements that I’ve made in the gym then I’ll get my belt back.
“I hope he comes in looking for the knockout. If Jorge comes looking for the knockout he breaks away from what he’s best at. And, if he does so, I believe it falls right into my hands.
“I’ve got to be cutting off the ring quicker this time. I’ve got to respond in bunches a little bit more. There are so many obstacles that are going to be put in front of me from Jorge Linares, but I believe I will have an answer for every one of them.
“It was one of the fights of the year last time. I can certainly see us both being even better this time.
“There’s a lot of people out there who think there is no way I can beat Jorge Linares, but I believe on Saturday night I’ll prove an awful lot of people wrong.”