Crolla can add another successful career chapter against Barroso
Lee Gormley | March 23, 2016
Crolla can add to fairytale 2015 success
After what began as a devastating year, Manchester’s Anthony Crolla capped off 2015 with a fairytale ending by incredibly becoming WBA lightweight champion, and is now on the cusp of continuing his remarkable story by adding another successful chapter in his maiden defence against Ismael Barroso.
The 29-year-old produced one of the greatest sporting comeback stories last year, starting it off in a hospital bed following a vicious attack by burglars which left him with a fractured skull and a broken foot. But, only months later, the popular Mancunian stunningly battled back to lift the WBA strap at the second time of asking in his adored hometown.
In his initial world title bout after a miraculous recovery, ‘Million Dolla’ Crolla (30-4-3, 12 KOs) was cruelly denied victory after the judges scored the bout a draw with then-champion Darleys Perez. Though he made amends soon after by emphatically stopping the Colombian with a deadly body shot to prevail last November.
Now, with the WBA crown proudly in his possession, the reigning lightweight champion can continue on this impressive path of success as he prepares to go toe-to-toe with dangerous mandatory challenger Venezuelan Barroso (19-0-2, 18 KOs), who he is 11/10 with Coral to overcome on May 7th.
Tough opening defence for Manchester’s finest
In an age when newly-crowned world title holders often face somewhat inferior opposition in their first outings, usually as a simple homecoming event, Crolla has taken no such easy route, with his South American foe possessing plenty of danger to his mantle.
A month after his famous triumph on home soil, Crolla was ringside to witness his future opponent demolish now-retired Londoner Kevin Mitchell, a defeat which ultimately led to the latter’s decision to hang up his gloves, but the Manchester fighter is relishing this latest opportunity.
There had been earlier suggestions that Crolla would relinquish his strap in order to secure an all-Manchester showdown with WBO title holder Terry Flanagan, but the highly-driven champion rubbished such claims and is looking forward to a match-up with hard-hitting Barroso.
“When you work for something so hard and so long, the last thing you want to do is give it up. I’d be a fraud if I’d done that when my mandatory is in front of me,” stated Crolla.
“He’s not taking my belt..”
“It’s the most dangerous fight of my career, I saw him take Kevin out in London and he did it in impressive fashion. They were confident of winning the fight and they did the job, but I saw things in him that I could capitalise on.
“The suggestion that I would duck him got my back up a bit. When you are champion, you fight the best challengers out there and that’s what I see in Barroso.
“I am looking forward to us both putting on a fantastic fight. We know he can bang and that is why everyone avoids him, but I believe I have got the tools to beat him and he’s not taking my belt.”
The Joe Gallagher trained Mancunian possesses the tools needed to dispatch 33-year-old Barroso, but it will be no easy feat, with the undefeated southpaw having showcased his menacing punching power on his British debut when downing Mitchell, and he has issued a warning ahead of his second coming.
“My fight with Kevin was good but this will be better. You will see two great fighters, and I know Anthony is an excellent champion, but I will take the belt to Venezuela,” declared Barroso, who is odds-on 8/11 to succeed later this year.
Flanagan fight on the horizon
With arguably his toughest test coming up swiftly, on the same weekend that Amir Khan will aim to dethrone middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (2/1 to do so), Crolla also has a possible domestic dust-up with Flanagan on the horizon.
As previously stated, the WBA champion refused to give up his strap for an immediate Flanagan face-off, having been offered a huge sum by promoter Frank Warren to do so, but that bout holds massive potential for the near future.
“With the greatest respect, Frank is a great promoter. He’s put on many fantastic shows, but he knows I’d be a fool to give up my world title,” admitted Crolla.
“This represents what I am. Also the support I’ve had on this journey, the way this city has got behind me, it would not be right to give up my title for a big payday.
“There’s a bit of pride there. I’d feel morally wrong as a man to avoid a challenge for a belt I’ve worked so hard for to get a bit of a nicer payday. That would be wrong of me.
“I think it’s morally wrong, I’d be a fraud when you look at everything I’ve said over the last few years and the support I’ve had to just go and give my title up like that. It would be wrong of me.”
“It would be sad if it never happened..”
Due to the rival promoters undertaken by both Crolla and Flanagan, with the pair being represented by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom stable and Frank Warren respectively, such a fight would likely take plenty of negotiating to finalise.
“Yeah, it would be sad if it never happened,” added Crolla. “I like Terry. We both want the fight, but it’s not straight forward.
“Hopefully we can meet later this year and meet for a lot of money and put on a great night for Manchester and we’ll both be financially secure after that.
“First and foremost, the only fight I’m looking at is Ismael Barroso. I’d be a fool to look past him, but I’ve got to make sure I come through this and then Terry would be top of my list.”
Crolla’s next objective is retain his strap against South American force Barroso on May 7th, before looking ahead to another high-profile domestic showdown with fellow Mancunian Flanagan, as the reigning WBA lightweight champion aims to maintain his remarkable journey with another successful chapter.