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Crolla: I Need To Drag Linares Into a Fight, Rough Him Up

Anthony Crolla will not be afraid to "rough up" Jorge Linares in their world title bout on Saturday night.

The 30-year-old is looking to win back the WBA belt he relinquished to the Venezuelan in their first fight, also at Manchester Arena, in September.

Crolla insists he is a better fighter now and that he has learned from the defeat, which came via a unanimous points decision.

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And he will not let his nice guy reputation get in the way of finding a way to beat the impressive Linares.

Crolla said: "I'm a realist. I know it's a tough fight. But I believe I have improved. I came up short last time, there wasn't loads in it, but I came up short.

"Up until the sixth round, I believed the fight was going my way, but one lapse in concentration cost me. I believe with the improvements I've made, if I can take them into the ring on Saturday night, I will be world champion again.

"Certainly at times I gave him too much space, let him move his feet. He's got very good ring craft. So, at times, I do need to drag him into a fight. I've got to make him do things he's not so comfortable doing.

"People say (I'm a nice guy) and it's nice of them to do that. But, whenever I've needed to dig deep, I've done it and I'll do it again on Saturday night.

"I can dig deep and show a big heart. Whatever needs to be done to win, I'm prepared to do it.

"I can (be nasty) and I think that's been seen. I've never been lacking heart or determination and that will be the same on Saturday night. Me and Jorge will shake hands but, if I have to rough him up, I'll do it."

There is a lot at stake for Crolla, who first won the title in Manchester in November 2015 with victory over Darleys Perez.

Victory would not only give him the WBA crown back but also the Ring magazine lightweight title and a potential shot at Mikey Garcia in Las Vegas.

"That's on my bucket list and I would take good numbers over there," said Crolla at the prospect of following in the footsteps of fellow Mancunian Ricky Hatton.

"I'm focused on Saturday and for me it's about getting Saturday out of the way and if that comes, the Brits invading The Strip like they did for Ricky, then so be it."

Crolla has 31 wins from 39 previous fights, 13 of them by knockout, and his career has already exceeded many people's expectations.

Were he to beat Linares, a world champion at three different weights, it would be surely his greatest achievement.

When asked about where his career would go should he lose, Crolla shifted quickly from hinting at retirement to defiance.

He said: "I'm 30 years old and realistically, if things don't go my way... I know I have prepared well. It will be because he's the better man on the night.

"But I still believe I'm improving and until the day comes when I don't feel that then I'm sure my team will be honest with me.

"But I feel I've got plenty of big nights left in me. I believe I will be world champion again, and it's going to happen on Saturday. That's my drive and to win it back would be even sweeter."

Crolla and Linares both weighed in within the limit on Friday, with the home fighter marginally the heavier at 9st 8lb

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