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Saturday, 25 March 2017

Boxing Picks 2017- Jorge Linares vs Anthony Crolla II (March 25th)

There have been so many good fights already in 2017 and March has been something of a month of upsets beginning with Tony Bellew's win over David Haye.

Last weekend saw Roman Gonzalez lose his unbeaten record, while Gennady Golovkin was a narrow winner over Daniel Jacobs in a fight where GGG was made to look the most human he has in years.

I actually had Jacobs winning the fight, but it wasn't a robbery of a decision because so many of the Rounds were very, very closely contested and it comes down to whether you liked Jacobs' slickness or Golovkin's come forward attitude.

This week the main card that is drawing the attention of the fans will come from the Manchester Arena as Anthony Crolla tries to earn a measure of revenge over Jorge Linares having lost the first fight on a Unanimous Decision back in September. There is a half decent undercard put together too in a week where yet another big fight in England was announced as Kell Brook gets ready to defend his World title against Errol Spence Jr at Bramall Lane in May.

We should hear an announcement from Amir Khan in the next couple of weeks for his next fight and the British boxing scene continues to thrive.

It was also good to hear Dereck Chisora is going to get his chance to earn revenge over Robert Helenius when he travels to Helsinki to take on the home fighter. It has been a few years since Helenius received a very fortunate decision against Chisora, but the latter will head over to get the better of him and line up a World Title shot against Deontay Wilder.

Brian Rose vs Jack Arnfield
There is local rivalry on the line as both Brian Rose and Jack Arnfield are looking to become known as the Number 1 Middleweight fighting out of Blackpool.

Things have become tense between Rose and Arnfield to the point that they had to be separated after the weigh in and during the traditional face off. It had been respectful for a while, but it is clear that Rose feels he is way above Arnfield while Bobby Rimmer has used his familiarity with Arnfield to accuse his former charge of being jealous of Rose.

You can't ignore the resumes of the two boxers as Rose has been in with the bigger names and been involved in the bigger fights. The Majority Decision loss to Matthew Macklin last year might have been the end of the road for Rose, but he still believes he has one more run in him.

Losing this fight isn't an option for Rose if that is the ambition as I am not sure where he can go if he is defeated by Arnfield. The latter is showing improvements in his fights, but I am not sure he is going to be a World Champion although it does feel like Arnfield has perhaps passed by Rose who is on the way down.

Arnfield has won four fights in a row since his loss to Nick Blackwell but this is his toughest test since then. The key question has to be how much Rose has left in the tank because he would have been a big favourite in a fight like this eighteen months ago, but the feeling is that Rose has perhaps seen his best days.

If Rose still has something he can win this fight, but Arnfield is the younger and physically bigger man and I think that will be a difference maker. Neither can really describe themselves as power punchers, but I can see them delving into something of a tear up at times with local pride at stake.

Rose has been stopped in three of his four previous losses, and Arnfield has stopped two of his last four opponents. That might tempt some in to back the younger fighter to earn a big win for his CV with a stoppage, but I think the most likely result is Arnfield winning this one on points.

I like Rose, but I do think this is the end of his career and Arnfield can out-box him from range and stay out of trouble. I did consider Arnfield winning this one late on as perhaps he picks off Rose as the potential for The Lion's corner to prevent him taking too much punishment is high. There is needle from the weigh in too but pride should make sure Rose hears the final bell in what is likely to be a losing decision.

Jorge Linares vs Anthony Crolla II
When these fighters met in September, I picked Jorge Linares to win the fight and was surprised that they were set as a pick 'em.

I can't say much has changed in this one except the fact the layers have understood that Linares is one of the top fighters in this Division and so this time he comes in as a healthy favourite to beat Anthony Crolla.

You have to like Crolla- he is a Manchester United fan, which will always sit well with me, but his recovery from the attack he suffered when preventing a neighbour being burgled is inspiring. Some thought he wouldn't fight again, but instead he became a legitimate World Champion and so you have to root for someone like that.

I'd love to see Crolla win the title and either have the trilogy fight with Linares or head to Vegas to take on Mikey Garcia, the American who will be a keen observer while working for Showtime in the United States. However that means Crolla being able to overturn the clear difference in quality that Linares showed against him in the first fight and I am not sure he can do that.

Some will point to the way Crolla beat Darleys Perez in the second fight after a draw was the outcome of the first, but Crolla should have earned the decision in the first fight and knew he could win the rematch. I am not sure he will really believe he can get the better of Linares without the Venezuelan having an off day, but most who have seen him this week will suggest Linares looks in better shape than he did for the first fight.

The big money fights are there for Linares with a win and I think he is showing plenty of confidence in coming back to Manchester to take on the home fighter again. He looks a little stronger this time and Linares came close to stopping Crolla in Round 6 in the first fight and is definitely someone who could be a threat to close the show early in this one.

Linares has talked up the prospect of the early Knock Out, but he is a smart and wily fighter who won't take unnecessary risks early. For Crolla there has been talk of upping the pressure in the second half of the fight than he did the first time around and looking for that to change a couple of Rounds around to help him secure the upset, but I do think Linares has all the tools to diffuse Million Dollar.

I think this is a fight that Linares will feel comfortable in and he can make his counter shots more telling than they were in the first fight. I think he might be able to catch Crolla a little more cleaner in the second half of the fight this time around and perhaps produce an emphatic win without the need to take the risk of going to the cards.

Anthony Crolla has only been stopped once before and he showed how tough he is when he came back from a terrible Round 6 to reach the cards last time out. However I am looking for Linares to be a little sharper with his shooting this time and I think the Champion will take away the judges with a late stoppage in this one as Crolla is perhaps saved by his corner or caught with something as he tries desperately to close the gap on the cards.

That is likely to happen, if at all, in the second half of the fight as Linares wears down Crolla and I will have a small interest in that happening.

MY PICKS: Jack Arnfield Decision or Technical Decision @ 2.25 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Jorge Linares Win Between 7-12 @ 6.00 William Hill (1 Unit)

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