But the Brit, clearly dazed, managed to see out the seventh round and go the distance, although Linares was a clear victor.
Liners produced arguably the performance of his career in extending his winning sequence to 11 fights, with Crolla left chasing shadows in some instances. Fighting for the WBA title he lost last September last year, the 30-year-old exhibited tremendous heart in front of a hometown crowd that sounded more like Manchester United's Stretford End, but ultimately was outclassed once again by the effortlessly stylish Venezuelan.
Crolla was close to getting knocked out in the seventh round, but fought till the last round, before losing by 118-109 on all three scorecards.
"Manchester I'm so sorry I couldn't do it for your support". Neither of these guys are what I would call young, but their pretty much the same age as the top fighters in the light welterweight division right now.
That result against Darleys Perez ended in a controversial draw, but Crolla prevailed in a return bout and defended the belt against big-punching Ismael Barroso before his twin losses to Linares. "I thought early on I was landing a few shots to the body and I thought he slowed down when he didn't", Crolla said.
It was the Mancunian's fifth successive world title fight, though, the first of which came months after he was left with a fractured skull and a broken ankle after confronting burglars in December 2014. I hope we can get that as soon as possible. Linares kept catching Crolla, as he did so notably a minute or so into this round. Still he tried to walk Linares down and still he found him slippery. This time he out-boxed Crolla a lot easier, showed skill, showed flexibility, moving around the ring, combinations, dropped him with that uppercut. "Jorge Linares, phenomenal fighter".
After five world title fights in under two years, the 30-year-old is now planning a break from the ring to recharge his batteries and spend time with his family. A Linares vs Garcia fight would be an absolute must-watch. It's nearly fight time.
But it was Linares who landed the more eye-catching punches in the closing stages and deservedly walked away with his second unanimous points decision over Crolla.