Crolla: I will fight again

Anthony Crolla accepts he was beaten by the better man after losing again to Jorge Linares – but insists there’s still plenty of fight left in him yet.

The Mancunian suffered a second straight points loss to the skilful Venezuelan, who retained his WBA lightweight title via unanimous decision in his rival's backyard.

Crolla looked in danger of being stopped when he was knocked down in the seventh round, although he recovered quickly from the setback and made it through to the final bell.

However, the home favourite was a distant second on the scorecards, all three judges having the contest 118-109 in favour the outstanding Linares.

He said: "I'm gutted. I genuinely gave it everything but it wasn't enough. I lost to the better man tonight.

"His movement was very good, his variety too. He came back better [from the first fight] in most departments.

"After he put me over, he threw a lot of shots but I covered them. I thought I came back pretty well, I wouldn't have minded that round going on a bit longer. The bell was better for him than me.

"I went the distance, although I won't take any more comfort from that. It's not nice losing. I never celebrate losing.

"But, maybe in a few years, I'll look back and realise I shared the ring with a three-weight world champion."

Crolla's bravery came at a price, though. He needed stitches to close up a cut, while also potentially suffered a broken rib in the first half of the bout.

Crolla also had to convince his trainer, Joe Gallagher, to allow him to come off his stool for the 12th and final round, making sure he wouldn't suffer a stoppage loss in front of his legion of raucous fans.

"In round four my ribs went. That's not to be used as an excuse, though," he said.

"We went to Barcelona in February, and the last spar I felt something (in my rib). I don't know if it was an intercostal muscle though.

"Every time he touched me throughout the fight after that it was horrible. I knew it had gone again – only worse this time."

After two tough battles with Linares, Crolla intends to take some time away from the sport.

However, that doesn't mean he's ready to hang up the gloves just yet. The 30-year-old will consider all options put to him by promoter Eddie Hearn, including a possible move up to super-lightweight.

"I'll go away, spend a bit of time with my family and then assess things," he said.

"We will see how long the injuries take to heal. I'm 30 years old, and even though I've been in the hard fights, I live well. I love this sport.

"There are plenty of options. I think I've shown throughout the last few years that I've got no problem taking on anyone in the division.

"Physically I feel strong, so light welterweight is something I'd consider for sure (with the right notice). It's an option down the line. I'd grow into it."