Manchester Boxing Fans Agog Over Native Son Anthony Crolla – They say that body punching is a lost art. Fans of WBA World lightweight champion Anthony Crolla beg to differ. On Saturday, May 7, at the Manchester Arena, Crolla (31-4-3, 13 KOs) collapsed Ismael Barroso with a body punch in the seventh stanza to emerge victorious in his first title defense. Crolla, who was trailing on all three scorecards, won his previous fight in a similar fashion, the difference being that he crumpled Darleys Perez with a left hook to the midsection, whereas he used his right hand to topple Barroso.
In both bouts, Crolla was a slight underdog despite the fact that he was fighting on his home turf. Punters that fancied Barroso, a Venezuelan, were impressed by his knockout percentage. Eighteen of his 19 wins had come inside the distance. In his previous bout on English soil, Barroso had little difficulty putting away Kevin Mitchell, a two-time world title challenger and former British super featherweight champion.
Crolla had scored only 12 knockouts in 37 bouts. A severe injury that he suffered in December of 2014 factored into the odds. He was hit over the head with a concrete slab when he confronted two intruders who were burglarizing a neighbor’s house. The incident left him with a fractured skull and a broken ankle.
Barroso started fast against Crolla, intent on scoring an early knockout. Crolla kept his poise and eventually took control. The Venezuelan started fading in round six and would be counted out on his knees in the next round. Looming on the horizon for Crolla is a bout with fellow Mancunian Terry Flanagan. When that bout materializes, more will be at stake than city bragging rights. The undefeated Flanagan (30-0) holds the WBO version of the world lightweight title.
There were several notable fights on the undercard. Perennial world title challenger Martin Murray tuned up for his forthcoming match in London with countryman George Groves with a second round stoppage of Belgium’s Cedric Spera. The Murray-Groves fight, which will be televised in the U.S. on Showtime, will be on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s first title defense.
Paul Smith, the oldest of the four fighting Smith brothers, ended a three-fight losing streak at the expense of Czechoslovakia’s overmatched Bronislaw Kubin, dismissing Kubin in the third round. To suggest that Smith was stepping down in class would be quite an understatement. In his previous match, his opponent was Andre Ward.
Hosea Burton improved to 16-0 with a fourth round knockout of Poland’s Michal Ludwiczak. Burton will be back in action later this month, fighting Tony Dodson in Liverpool for the British light heavyweight title.
In other bouts, Manchester middleweight Marcus Morrison improved to 11-0 with a second round stoppage of Brazil’s Jefferson Luiz De Sousa and welterweight Shayne Singleton (23-1) won a minor WBC belt with an eighth round stoppage of Adil Anwar.