On Saturday, May 7, a knockout ending between WBA Lightweight champion Anthony Crolla (31-4-3, 13 KOs) and mandatory challenger Ismael Barroso (19-1, 18 KOs) was widely expected.
Many thought it was a matter of time before Barroso sealed the victory with his crude power, which was evident against Crolla’s countryman, Kevin Mitchell, in December 2015.
Though, the power puncher would be the one that loses by knockout.
From the start, it was apparent that Anthony Crolla would not fall into the trap of respecting Barroso’s power, and as a consequence, he decided to push Barroso back, rather than being pushed back himself.
Crolla was tagged, but did not relent, a sight that Barroso is not used to seeing once his shots land on his opponent. Over time, it became less likely that Barroso was going to capture his 19th knockout and 20th victory.
Then came the turning point in the fight. Fatigue had kicked in for Barroso, whose workload started to stagnate. Clearly, the question of whether he can be as effective in the latter rounds was being answered.
Crolla started to land profusely on Barroso, whose defence declined as a result of his energy being depleted. Crolla had taken what Barroso offered, and started to overwhelm the fighter that was expected to overwhelm him.
Round seven saw Crolla land a deceptive, but excruciating, body shot, that caused Barroso to stay down and be counted out. Barroso’s tank was empty within seven rounds, and Crolla won a second fight in a row by a body shot.
Thereafter, the crowd in the Manchester Arena joined Crolla in celebrating rapturously, in what was an impressive victory against a very formidable foe.
With his mandatory out the way, particularly a dangerous one, Crolla can look ahead to unification bouts against the other champions of the division.
One name mentioned constantly is WBO Lightweight champion Terry Flanagan (30-0, 12 KOs). This fight would pit two fighters, both from Manchester, in a world championship unification fight.
Though, due to both fighters being represented by rival promoters, as well as a difference of opinion on purses, fans should not hold their breath for this fight just yet.
Nonetheless, the highly likeable, and humble, Anthony Crolla has scored arguably the best win of his career, considering the circumstances.