Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) - Venezuela's Jorge Linares retained his WBA lightweight title on Saturday on a unanimous points decision against big-hearted Anthony Crolla of Britain.
Linares had Crolla on the canvas in the seventh round but the British fighter showed great determination and grit to last the 12-round distance.
Linares was declared the winner 118-109 on all three of the judges' scorecards.
The Venezuelan had also beaten 30-year-old Crolla in September and now has a record of 42 wins against just three losses.
"Jorge Linares is a great fighter and a great champion," Crolla said of an opponent who has not lost for five years.
"He's proved that again tonight. He caught me with a great shot. Before that I was trying to close the distance and I thought that I was going to get to him but he moved very well. I can say I got beat off the better man. No excuses."
Linares hailed his opponent.
"I want to tell everyone in Manchester, Anthony Crolla has some big balls. He had a lot of heart and that's why he made it to the 12th round with me," said the Venezuelan.