By Elliot Foster
Anthony Crolla will get the chance to become a world champion again later this year.
The former WBA lightweight champion, 30, who lost his crown in September at the hands of Venezuelan stylist Jorge Linares, has been granted the opportunity of a rematch.
Crolla (31-5-3, 13 KOs) lost on points at the Manchester Arena against the divisional king on that night, live on Sky Sports.
And as previously reported by Boxing Scene, the return –– for the WBA Super, WBC Diamond and Ring Magazine belts –– will happen on March 25 at the same venue as their first clash.
The winner will be ordered to face Dejan Zlaticanin, the WBC champion who defends his crown on January 28 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, as part of the undercard to the rematch between Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz.
That was the original plan and it was expected that Linares would face Zlaticanin in his next fight.
But a spanner was thrown into the works after it was revealed at the post-fight press conference, following the showdown between Crolla and Linares in Manchester in September, that a rematch clause included in the deal would be executed.
“No excuses from me from the first fight, I had a great camp – I came up short against a great fighter,” Crolla stated when the rematch was made official on Wednesday.
“I see Jorge as the best lightweight in the world and I want to be the best lightweight in the world,” he continued. “It is always up for discussion, that label, of course, [but] he is seen as the man at the moment and I want to test myself against the very best, even though I have already been in with him.
“These are the fights that I want to be involved in.”
‘Million Dollar' reigned supreme as the WBA champ in the 135-pound division for just 10 months, a stint which included a sensational victory over feared puncher Ismael Barroso in May, but the rollercoaster story looks set to continue as Crolla looks to get back to the top table alongside the likes of Manchester rival Terry Flanagan, the WBO champion with whom a showdown has been mooted for some time, as well as WBC king Dejan Zlaticanin and IBF champion Robert Easter Jr.
For 31-year-old Linares (41-3, 27 KOs), another victory over Crolla would cement his position as the number one at lightweight.
He said: “I am really excited to be going back to Manchester.
“I was treated very well by everyone and gained a lot of new British fans. Crolla is a tremendous fighter with a lot of heart so I know I must train twice as hard for another tough fight.
“I promise another great performance and assure that the belts are returning home with me.”
Crolla’s promoter Eddie Hearn is delighted to have secured his charge a second opportunity to become recognised as the world’s best.
“I’m delighted Anthony will get a chance to win his WBA title back along with the WBC Diamond and Ring Magazine belts,” he said in a media release.
“The last fight was a Fight of the Year contender and Linares boxed out of his skin but one thing we know about Anthony is his ability to bounce back and he is so determined to win this fight.
“He has created some wonderful atmospheres at the Manchester Arena over the last few years and I believe March 25 will be the best yet.”
Boxing Scene understands that Marcus Morrison, the WBC International Silver middleweight champion, will feature on the card, with further additions to be confirmed in due course.
Betfred will sponsor the fight.