Anthony Crolla will demand at least £1m to fight Terry Flanagan in an all-Manchester clash
The Manchester lightweight came up short again against Jorge Linares as he tried to win back the WBA title he lost to Venezuelan in September. But Eddie Hearn warned rival promoter Frank Warren he will not get Crolla on the cheap for WBO champion Flanagan.
Hearn, who has a long-term deal with Sky Sports, would also have no issue with Crolla going over and fighting on a Warren show on BT Sport, which was a previous stumbling block for the fight.
He said: "If the right offer came up there is no way I would stand in the way of Anthony Crolla taking that fight. The numbers that were discussed last time were nowhere near the right money, but if the right deal came up and he had the chance to make a lot of money, I would encourage him to take the fight.
"A ball-park figure? Seven figures. You can take well over seven figures on the gate."
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Flanagan has a defence of his title first against Petr Petrov on April 8 first and Crolla could also move up to light-welterweight to face WBA champion Ricky Burns.
The Scot has a unification fight with IBF title holder Julius Indongo next month, but if he wins could face Crolla in November in Monte Carlo.
Linares is also set to be offered the Flanagan fight but he is more likely to pursue a unification fight with WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia in America this summer.
Indeed, Crolla did not underperform on Saturday night – he was simply outperformed by one of the world's best.
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Terry Flanagan is the WBO lightweight champion
Crolla even admitted he would have been enjoying the work of the silky skilled Venezuelan if he was not on the end of the punch perfect display.
"I've said it before when I watched him years ago, I was a fan of his," said the 30-year-old. "If it wasn't me taking the punches I would have been admiring the work he was doing."
Linares was booed into the arena by the 14,000 fans who made it an electric atmosphere for the hometown hero, but even they must have admired the visiting fighter's work when it got going.
When the Venezuelan arrived in Manchester for their first meeting last September, he had been out for almost a year with a broken hand. That night he was still the better man but Crolla had more success in a closer fight.
The hope for 'Million Dollar' was that it was the first sign of Linares getting old at 31 and with 44 fights behind him to give him a chance of causing an upset. But in reality he was only shaking off the ring rust and produced one of his finest displays in his 45th bout to win almost every round and take this fight 118-109 on all three scorecards having also floored Crolla in the seventh.
Jorge Linares sucessfully defended his WBA title against Anthony Crolla via unanimous decision
"My ribs went in round four but that is not to be used as an excuse," said Crolla. "He was good, I lost to the better man. I'm absolutely gutted but I gave everything. I tried to force it but I lost to the better man. He came back better in most departments."
A left uppercut floored him in the seventh before the crowd roared him on to give it one more go.A better round in the eighth followed but, by the end of the 11th, Crolla's trainer Joe Gallagher had seen enough and tried to pull his man out.
""I was just pleading with him to let me go on," said Crolla. "I was all right.
Linares joked earlier in the week that he would want an apartment in Manchester if he was to return to this city for a third time to fight Crolla's old school mate and WBO champion Flanagan.
But in truth the man who shares his time between Venezuela, Las Vegas and Tokyo, never looked so at home as he did in the Manchester Arena ring on Saturday night.