Linares defeats lionheart Crolla to retain lightweight title

Venezuela's Jorge Linares (R) goes on the offensive in a unanimous decision victory over England's Anthony Crolla in their WBA, WBC Lightweight match

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.