A Fighter Profile: Anthony Crolla
By James Hailston
Some people are of the belief that good guys don’t win things. They think it’s the ones with the selfish, sometimes nasty streaks that ultimately come out on top when push comes to shove.
However, Anthony Crolla, British boxing’s very own Mr Nice Guy has proven that notion wrong, and has done so having had to negotiate his way past more road blocks than most on his road to the top.
After winning the 2006 ABA’s he turned pro just before his 20th birthday. After reaching 8-0 he suffered his first setback in a points defeat to the unfancied Youssef al-Hamidi.
As was so often in the Mancunians career however, he’d bite down on the gumshield and come again. Five more wins led him to a shot at the English super featherweight title against Gary Sykes where again he fell short in a keenly contested points defeat.
Over the next few years and 13 fights Crolla would defeat one of his idols in Michael Brodie, step up to lightweight, win the British title, defend it, lose it in his first stoppage defeat and then lose to Sykes again in a Prizefighter event.
All of this led the resilient Manchester United fan to Kieran Farrell in a local derby fight. With some cynics now even questioning if he was good enough to win an English title Crolla knew he couldn’t afford another loss. So much so he is said to of had a 9-5 job waiting for him the following Monday morning were the unthinkable to occur. Yet again Crolla lived to fight another day as he secured the English crown in a very hard fought contest.
After his opponent was stretchered out of the ring and forced to retire for medical reasons Crolla had to once again question if it was all worth it. And once again he came out swinging.
Wins against the likes of Gavin Rees and John Murray showed the improvements he was making and eventually led ‘million dollar’ Crolla to the world title shot he’d for so long seemed unlikely and in some people’s opinion, incapable of getting.
It wouldn’t have been typical Crolla fashion though had there not been another hurdle to clear first. After an attempt to stop a pair of burglars stealing from his neighbours house went horribly wrong, Crolla was left with a fractured skull and broken ankle. It put paid to his world title fight. But only temporarily.
Where even the most positive of athletes might of thought their day would never come, Crolla not only got himself back into the ring – which was an achievement in itself – but went straight into a world title fight with Colombian Darleys Perez.
After the first fight ended in a draw (though many thought Crolla should have nicked it) there was a rematch. This time, he made sure he wasn’t going to have to rebound from another setback. A beautiful left hook to the body set up by the right uppercut upstairs first finished Perez off in the 5th and crowned the popular Brit champion of the world.
In his subsequent 7 fights, Crolla – now 34-7-3 – has beaten Ismael Barroso and Ricky Burns but has also lost twice to the great Jorge Linares – losing and failing to regain his world title in the process- and once to the even greater Vasyl Lomachenko.
If ever a boxers career has demonstrated the unbelievable highs and the devastating lows the sport can give out, its Crolla’s.
Yet despite encountering more than his fair share of falls along the way, he’s climbed to the top of the boxing mountain, and has done so whilst being himself. No bad mouthing opponents, protecting his 0, conducting himself poorly outside of the ring. Just an honest hard working man hungry to improve and achieve his dream.
Whatever route he decides to take in what is now the twilight of his career he should be proud of his accomplishments both inside and outside of the ring. From a light punching, super featherweight who was easy to hit and wouldn’t get past area title level, to a front foot, aggressive, strong lightweight who behind his methodical jab and high guard breaks opponents down with solid work to both head and body and is filling out arenas.
In this instance the good guy has most definitely won.