The Manchester man’s bid to regain the WBA lightweight title ended in failure as the classy Venezuelan outpointed him for a second time.
Linares was just too good as he looked even slicker than in his September win over Crolla.
‘Million Dollar’ did not underperform here, he was just simply not in Linares’ class.
It was brave, but the boxing brain and brawn of Linares was too much for him.
The Tokyo-based fighter gave an almost punch-perfect display to retain the title and his status as a three-weight world champion.
It was not the result that the 14,000 crowd inside Manchester Arena wanted, but they did get to witness one of the world’s top fighters in action even if he was beating their man.
Crolla was welcome into the venue in his hometown to an ear-shaking reception.
Jorge Linares defeated Anthony Crolla in Manchester
The Manchester United nut was treated to songs he sings himself when he’s watching his beloved team at Old Trafford.
Linares was, as expected, booed to the arena but there was no real ill-feeling for the Venezuelan road warrior.
He was also well respected by Crolla with no pre-fight insults as both just focused on providing another exciting affair – and it turned out to be just that.
Crolla is British boxing’s Mr Nice Guy but he promised he would get nasty to take the champion out of his rhythm.
He would find that an impossible task as Linares started on the back foot, popping his jab to find range before delivering fierce right hands.
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His array of shots was so impressive, even in the early stages.
Crolla’s early success was to the body, but it only opened him up to the right uppercut that would be the visiting fighter’s best weapon throughout.
The Manchester man felt the force of one at the start of the third round and it seemed to deter him from taking risks as he tried to get inside the effective jab of the defending champion.
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Crolla finally had some success in the fourth with a straight left landing after a missed uppercut, but it was not enough to take the round.
Linares, watched by promoter and ring legend Oscar De La Hoya from ringside, then went up a gear in the fifth as he started to sit down on his shots more and looked to be hurting the home favourite.
The atmosphere was still electric though as the crowd continued to sing for their man as the challenge he faced was laid bare.
A cut over the left eye in the sixth was only going to make it more difficult.
They also roared their man off the canvas when he was dropped by a left uppercut in the seventh.
It was a sickening shot that all but ended any slim hope Crolla had of turning this around.
But it did not put the brave Manchester fighter off having a go as he had his best round in the eighth.
Crolla finally disrupted Linares’ rhythm and let some sharp combinations go.
Anthony Crolla gets up from the canvas after being knocked down by Jorge Linares
Jorge Linares proudly displays his belts after the bouts
But the success was short lived as Linares regained control in the ninth as every time he was put on the back foot he responded with sharp rights that rocked the hometown favourite.
Linares then dished out more punishment in the 10th before he cruised over the line to take it 118-109 on all three of the judges’ cards.
Crolla can be proud of his effort though as his rollercoaster career was never expected to have got to a level where he would be sharing a ring with a fighter of Linares’ class.
The fact that he went the distance again with Linares, who had a year lay-off before their first fight, was impressive in itself.
This was his 40th fight and he may have to consider his future, but you get the feeling there may be one more chapter in the exciting tale for Crolla.