Fight night tips: Best bets as Crolla and Linares return to Manchester
In a night of rematches, the Venezuelan lightweight world champion heads our top picks...
Anthony Crolla v Jorge Linares
It will be a repeat or revenge in the main event as Linares defends his three lightweight world titles against local boy Crolla.
The first fight was an entertaining one in which Linares’ slick footwork and hand speed proved the difference.
The Venezuelan used his jab effectively at range and escaped when the Mancunian attempted to ramp up the pressure.
Crolla is a hugely resilient fighter with a good record in rematches, and his world title win came in a second meeting with Darleys Perez after a draw in the first fight.
But Linares appears to be just too good, and he comfortably outboxed the Mancunian in September.
The Venezuelan has now won 10 consecutive fights, and has not been beaten since 2012.
As hard as it is to pick against Crolla, who has consistently exceeded all expectations over the past few years, it’s hard to look past Linares.
Another decision win for the champion is a good bet at .
Martin Ward v Maxi Hughes
The main event is not the only rematch on this card, as these British super featherweights face off for the third time on Saturday night.
Ward holds the advantage, having stopped Hughes in the third round of their second fight after the first meeting ended in a draw.
That took the Yorkshireman’s record to 11-0-2, and he has since earned five more wins and claimed the British title.
Ward’s stoppage win in the last fight between these two should really have ended this saga, but Hughes has been so impressive since that defeat that he has earned a third opportunity.
The gritty 27-year-old has won three in a row and has still only lost twice in his 20-fight career, but lacks the quality to really trouble Ward here.
Hughes’ improvements means this fight should be closer, and it would be no surprise if it went the distance.
Given that only eight of Ward’s 16 wins have come inside the distance, a points win for the 25-year-old at is the likeliest outcome.
Katie Taylor v Milena Koleva
Taylor should continue her push for a world title shot with a win over the overmatched Koleva.
The Bulgarian’s 9-7-1 record is inflated by victories over poor opponents, and she has been beaten by every decent boxer she has faced.
The last three fighters Koleva has beaten had a combined record of seven wins, 14 defeats and one draw, and she has never won against an opponent with 10 wins or more.
Taylor – one of the most successful amateur boxers ever – is simply a level above.
After an easy stoppage victory in her first professional bout the 30-year-old won a comfortable decision over Viviane Obenauf in December, although she was slightly frustrated not to finish the fight early.
She got back on track with a phenomenal performance against Monica Gentili earlier this month, stopping the Italian in the fifth round.
A similar result would be no surprise here, and Taylor to win by knockout at is the right bet.