By David Stirland
Almost a year ago Anthony Crolla suffered a fractured skull and broken ankle as he attempted to prevent a robbery at his neighbour’s home. Seven months later he fought out a draw with Darleys Perez he had appeared to win, which cost him the WBA lightweight title.
Bitter disappointment has turned to delight though when Crolla defeated Perez second time around to win the WBA lightweight title last week.
After being left to skin and bones due to all the medication he endured, it was remarkable that Crolla was able to get back to any kind of fitness following injuries described by doctors as possible career ending.
He told SkySports: “It’s been an absolute roller-coaster the last 12 months and this is the perfect finish. It’s a dream come true.”
The body work from Crolla, mixed with some good jabs, had him with a slight edge after four rounds and made the advantage pay in the next round.
The Mancunian’s winning blow came in the fifth round following a big body shot putting Perez on his back with roughly 30 seconds of the round remaining.
Despite the Colombian’s best attempt to scramble to his feet, it was clear to see that his fight was over for him as he was unable to make the count. This was only his second defeat after 32 wins and a draw.
Crolla fought a fairly comfortable fight compared to the previous encounter recorded a third draw of his career along with his 30 wins and four defeats.
“It is an amazing feeling, it is a dream come true, now I just want many more nights like this in Manchester.”
The result being conclusive was a huge relief following the huge controversy as the judges scored the fight 116-111 for Crolla, 114-113 for Perez and 113-113
Crolla told the BBC: “After the first fight I went away and worked hard with the team, we have worked so hard in the gym. I just have to thank the team around me.”
Being regarded as one of boxing’s true “nice guys” his hometown world title win is a huge feel-good moment not just for the fighter and his dedicated fans, but really for just about everyone watching, and is one of the better stories of the year in boxing.
As the 29-year-old bathes in his win he has eyes for his next right, with Kevin Mitchell in pipeline and Old Trafford the rumoured venue. The 31-year-old would become the mandatory WBA challenger if he defeats Ismael Barroso on December 12.