JORGE LINARES aims to dethrone Anthony Crolla to fulfil a promise to a late friend.
The Venezuelan puncher is desperate to get his hands on Crolla’s WBA lightweight title on Saturday in Manchester.
Linares, 31, promised former WBA chief Gilberto Mendoza he would win the belt in his memory when the governing body president was on his death bed.
Mendoza died earlier this year from cancer and his son, Gilberto Mendoza Jnr, now runs the organisation.
But Linares is aiming to fulfil the promise he made to his friend when he faces Crolla, who is making the second defence of the title.
He said: “Gilberto Mendoza wasn’t my blood family, but he was like my grandfather.
“I loved him dearly. I am where I am today because of him and his son Gilberto Mendoza Jnr.
“I saw him in October when he was making his last steps, we spent some good time together and he met my daughter.
“This is something I promised him. I promised him the WBA belt, to bring it back to him, so yes I have that on me and because I know that I’m preparing well in the gym to come and fulfil that promise.”
Linares returns to the ring after almost a year out with hand injuries for the fight with Crolla, which is also for the Ring Magazine belt and the diamond version of the WBC belt.
And the Venezuelan – who beat Kevin Mitchell in 2015 – has no concern about going into the big fight at Manchester Arena with little ring action for the last year.
He added: “I’m at the point in my career where I’m not going to take the smaller fights. I want the bigger fights. I’ve learned what I have to learn in boxing and now I have to go and show it.
“It’s a fight he wanted, it’s a fight I wanted, it’s a fight the fans wanted, so why not make it? Why take a smaller fight first?
“It’s at the right moment because that’s the fight we were preparing and working hard for.”