Perez keeps title with controversial draw against Crolla
MANCHESTER, England – Popular British lightweight Anthony Crolla appeared to come out on the short end of a majority draw against WBA titleholder Darleys Perez on Saturday and the home crowd and portions of the assembled media looked on in bewilderment when the decision was announced.
The official scores were 116-111 in favor of Crolla, and 113-113 twice. It must be said that there were respected members of the media who saw a close fight, but this reporter had the Englishman winning the contest decisively.
“I thought I did enough to be a world champion,” said Crolla, who was clearly upset. “Darleys Perez is a good fighter but I’m gutted at the moment.”
Both men traded jabs in Round 1 in a quiet opener but things heated up in the second. Crolla tasted the defending champion’s power but responded with a great right hand which visibly shook Perez. There was not enough time for a follow up and the bell ended the round with the crowd in uproar.
Crolla, for this reporter, swept the early sessions. Perez, a natural counterpuncher, struggled to time the rapier left jab of his opponent and the majority of his responses were crude. Anything memorable was coming from Crolla and a perfect left hook steadied the visitor’s legs at the end of the fifth.
This reporter gave Perez three of the middle rounds but he was making up the rear. Crolla was technically superior and busier in most sessions and the Colombian struggled for answers. Whenever he did land big, a rare occurrence, Crolla covered up, or moved laterally, to evade the second phase of attack.
The championship rounds commenced with a cacophony of noise reverberating throughout the arena and Crolla, piping-fit, maintained his game plan. A sharp left hand speared home and timely bursts went unanswered. Perez was not busy enough and “two” point deductions “seemed” to make the challenger’s win decisive.
It was an incredible achievement for Crolla to even be in the ring tonight when one considers what happened last December. Battered over the head by a concrete slab, while foiling a burglary attempt on a neighbor’s home, the 28 year old lost a scheduled world title opportunity to then WBA titleholder Richar Abril and faced the prospect of never fighting again.
Crolla had never mixed with an opponent of Perez’s class and when you add to that the psychological downside of what he went through his efforts can only be labelled remarkable.
“Anthony deserves to be the champion,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “I thought he won the fight without the point deductions and we’ll get Anthony another shot.”
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing