This coming Friday, Britain’s Anthony “Million Dollar” Crolla heads to the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. He will take on current world champion and arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Vasiliy Lomachenko, in a title showdown with both the WBA Super World and WBO Lightweight belts on the line.
Crolla heads into the bout as a massive underdog with most punters giving him no chance at all against the Ukrainian, who resides in California and will therefore also have the crowd on side. Still, the Manchester born boxer is used to being overlooked and in the ring anything can happen–something Crolla is keen to stress.
An experienced fighter having boxed 285 rounds across 43 bouts in his 12-year professional career, the 32-year-old Anthony Crolla will need to use all of the lessons he’s learned in that time to try and gain an advantage on the comparatively inexperienced Lomachenko – who has only boxed professionally 13 times. Nonetheless, despite only turning pro in 2013, Lomachenko, who had an impressive amateur career, is just one-year away from Crolla’s age, at 31.
He measures up slightly smaller in both height (5 foot 7 compared to 5 foot 8 Crolla) and reach (65 inches to 67 inches); so, the Brit will need to use his extra inches too as Lomachenko can cause some serious damage if he lands blows. His 69% knockout record is proof of this – for a guide, Crolla’s KO ratio only stands at 30 percent.
In addition to the fire inside Lomachenko’s gloves, Crolla and his longstanding trainer, Joe Gallagher, will need to try and overcome the unique style that the southpaw boxes with. This is something Crolla admits has been difficult to replicate during sparring, despite recruiting several amateurs to assist.
Travel back just two short years and the whole boxing world was writing Crolla off. He’d just fell to his second consecutive unanimous points defeat at the hands of Jorge Linares and retirement looked inevitable for the Mancunian. Compare that to his opponent who has only lost one fight in his entire career – to experienced Mexican fighter Orlando Salido – and that was only his second bout.
Since then he’s registered 11 straight wins and amassed the two titles that will be heading home with the victor come on Friday. Whilst everyone was busy speculating about Crolla’s future he was metaphorically picking himself up from the canvas and getting ready to go again. He’s bounced back with three straight victories himself and either you think of him as a dark horse or not he’s backing himself to push Lomachenko all the way. The brit has engaged in a “brutal” training camp, which allegedly left him in the “best shape” of his life.
Crolla’s camp aren’t underestimating the challenge that lays ahead for their man and acknowledge any outcome other than defeat would “shock the world” but Crolla is perceived as one of the hardest working boxers on the British Isles and is embracing what lays ahead.
Whilst most pre-fight build ups are full of trash talk, this affair certainly so far at least, has been far more respectful on both sides with Crolla thankful for the opportunity to face off with Lomachenko – although he’s also quick to reiterate that he’s earned the right to face him after defeating Daud Yordan on the Tony Bellew versus Aleksandr Usyk undercard back in November.
The odds might be with Lomachenko but Crolla is in good shape, both physically and mentally, and the underdog tag always brings the best out in him so win, lose or draw you can be sure that he will leave everything in the ring on Friday night.
Meanwhile, Lomachenko not only has to worry about Crolla this Friday, but also Teofimo Lopez. The Honduran-American boxer is keen to be the next opponent of the Ukrainian and will be ringside ready to book his position.