ANTHONY CROLLA took a huge step towards world title contention – with a convincing points victory over Ricky Burns.
The Mancunian returned to the Manchester Arena after two defeats against Jorge Linares to put himself back on the world stage.
Crolla said in his post-fight interview: “This was so special – Manchester I love you.
“I thought I’d definitely done enough but I knew what this guy’s engine was and he kept going.
“He gave me a very, very tight fight. I owe these people another world title.
“I knew how much energy this man had. People were saying would he tire coming doing to lightweight, but I never thought that would happen.
“We have no problem going to Glasgow for a rematch at some point, but we will see what is next in the pipeline.”
For Burns, the end of his stint as a professional boxer looks to be nearing as the defeat leaves him with nowhere to go.
The judges scorecards read 116-113, 117-112, 116-114 in favour of Crolla, and they seemed to be a fair reflection of a contest where the home fighter looked busier throughout.
Both Anthony Crolla and Ricky Burns entered the ring knowing that a loss would most likely mean an end to their respective career, whilst the winner would move back on to the world stage once more.
Coming off a loss to Julius Indongo, Ricky Burns stepped down to lightweight to take the fight with Crolla, and any doubts about his ability to fight at the weight were quickly diminished when he entered the ring looking as strong as ever.
Both men looked to establish their jabs early on in the contest, with neither of them willing to throw a combination as they began to settle into the bout.
The Mancunian began to get a hold of the fight in the second, but as Burns looked to close the distance a head clash left Crolla marked up under the right eye.
As the fight went on, the heads of both fighters came perilously close to clashing heads with each other on a number of occasions.
With both men feeling their way into the contest, there seemed to be more power behind the shots to both head and body.
The Scot seemed intent on making the fight a scrappy one much to Crolla’s frustration, but in doing so it allowed the hometown fighter the chance to throw his infamous body shots.
With the fight being fought in a phone box, Crolla looked to be as busy as the bees on his shorts.
The three weight world champion had some success in the round seven however, as an uppercut snapped the head of his opponent back accompanied by jeers from the crown.
With the fight slipping away from the Scot going into the final third of the contest, both men upped the tempo and let their hands go on a number of occasions.
Although the damage looked to have been done in the first half of the contest, the Mancunian’s nose started to leak blood after another one of Burns’ uppercuts.
Going into round eleven, the general consensus ringside seemed to be suggesting that Burns needed a stoppage to win the fight.
Burn’s came out with the intent of increasing the pace of the contest for the last two rounds, but Crolla responded by fighting fire with fire.
A slip from Burns ignited the crown into thinking their man had rocket his opponent, but the Scots immediate response of laughing indicated it was no more than a slip.
A win for Crolla sets up what would likely be a final world title fight, with Manchester’s Terry Flanagan looking like the most likely target. With Jorge Linares and Mikey Garcia seemingly tied up in a unification contest, Crolla will be looking to face the WBO champion.
Aside from the world champions, Brit Luke Campbell seems to be favourite to get the fight with Crolla as he too looks to rebuild from a loss to Linares. In a fight that could be made into an eliminator for the world crown, Crolla will go into the bout as an underdog – a tag he likes to be labelled with.
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