Former world titleholders Anthony Crolla and Ricky Burns will clash in a must-win lightweight fight at the Manchester Arena in England on October 7.
Crolla, who is rated No. 9 by THE RING at 135 pounds, is coming off a pair of unanimous decision losses to multi-talented boxer-puncher Jorge Linares. The former WBA titleholder is keen to get back in the win column and a victory over his domestic rival could vault him straight back into world title contention.
“All I want to do is be involved in big fights and Ricky Burns is a three-weight world champion. I’ve got a lot of respect for him,” said Crolla. “He’s a great fighter and (he’s) only lost to the very best.
“I’m looking forward to going to battle and putting on a display for the fans. Camp started a few weeks ago and I’m in a good place.
“It’s at a good time for both of us. A win puts us back in the mix for titles. I’m not going to say the loser has nowhere to go, but it’s going to be a tough road back. We’re both coming off losing our world titles and the incentive is to win the fight and get back in the frame.”
The fight also marks an emotional return to the Manchester Arena for Crolla following the devastating terrorist attack at that venue in May. The Englishman expects this to be the most poignant night of all at Manchester’s famous boxing home.
“I’m really happy the fight is in Manchester,” said Crolla. “It’s going to be one of the first shows since that horrible night with the bombings so it means an awful lot to go back. A lot of people have been asking me to come back to the arena for my next fight. But if there’s a rematch, I’ll happily go to Glasgow (in Scotland).
“The 24 rounds with Linares puts me in good stead. They weren’t fights where I took a serious beating with huge shots bouncing my head back. Other than the knockdown, I wasn’t on wobbly legs. I enjoyed the experience. I made improvements in the buildup which I didn’t get to show on the night, which is a credit to Jorge.
“I’ve got nothing against Ricky, he’s a good guy. But once that bell goes we’ll both be willing to dig deep. I’ve wanted this for a long time. I can’t wait.”
Burns, Scotland’s first ever three-weight world titleholder, dropped a 12-round unanimous decision to dangerous Namibian southpaw Julius Indongo in April. The Coatbridge star lost his WBA 140-pound title that night and now returns to lightweight for this eagerly anticipated matchup.
“It’s going to be a great fight,” said Burns. “There was a lot of talk in recent weeks (and) the response we got was unbelievable. People want to see it and now the deal is done, I’m looking forward to it.
“It doesn’t bother me where I fight, there will be a good crowd coming down from Scotland. It’s a fight the fans have been getting up for and I’m sure they will turn up in their numbers.
“When I held world titles at (junior lightweight) and lightweight, Crolla’s name was always mentioned but it never happened. He’s a great guy and a great fighter. I don’t think you’ll get much trash talk in the buildup. The best man will win on the night.
“I moved up to (junior welterweight) because the world title came up and the chance to make history was there. I’ve been making 140 pounds too easily and I’ve had enough notice for this fight and although those last pounds will always be tricky, I’m happy to be back down at 135 pounds.
“It’s going to be hard, tough fight. The two of us will come out and go for it – the fans are the real winners.”
“What a fight between two great warriors” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “Both Anthony and Ricky are in similar places in the careers and they know that this absolute must win. Knowing these two like I do, this is going to be a fight until the finishing bell with neither taking a backward step.”
Information courtesy of a press release issued by Matchroom Boxing
Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for RingTV.com and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing
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