Monday, March 27, 2023  |



Anthony Crolla discusses Vasiliy Lomachenko-Luke Campbell, set for November return

The Ring Magazine/WBA/WBO lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko (foreground) vs. Anthony Crolla. Photo credit: German Villasenor

LONDON – Been there, seen it, felt it.

The last man to face pound-for-pound star Vasiliy Lomachenko was former WBA lightweight titleholder Anthony Crolla. The amiable Englishman ventured to Los Angeles in April for what he knew would be the toughest fight of his career and it proved to be even tougher than expected.

Crolla took a count in third and was knocked cold by a terminal Lomachenko right hook in the fourth. A proud man, the manner of defeat was very difficult for Crolla to deal with, but he does recognize that he came second against arguably the finest boxer of his generation.

“He’s a very unique fighter,” Crolla told The Ring. “Once you’re in there with him, the pressure he puts on you with his feet makes you realize (the extent of the task). He doesn’t even need to punch, and that’s similar to what we seen with [Oleksandr] Usyk and [Tony] Bellew. Lomachenko and Usyk are always making you think and thinking makes you tired. This is maybe why they do these mind challenges and exercises in training.

“Lomachenko is so good at taking you away from your game plan. We’ve seen him make so many fighters quit and I understand why. In a way, he almost makes you feel useless in there. He’s punishing you for every half mistake you make, so you’ve got to keep believing in yourself and stick with it, but it’s easier said than done. I trained to deal with frustration, but when I got in there, I was still like, ‘Oh wow!’”

Under fire. Crolla absorbs another Lomachenko assault (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)

On Saturday, another British standout, Luke Campbell, takes on Lomachenko at the O2 Arena in London. It must be said that the style confrontation in this fight is vastly different from what we saw in Lomachenko-Crolla.

Campbell, who is rated No. 2 by The Ring at 135 pounds, is a tall, super-quick southpaw and a former Olympic champion, but is that enough to threaten a fighter of Lomachenko’s quality?

“Luke has the height and the reach advantage, but Lomachenko will have seen that before, and you wonder if he’ll turn that into a disadvantage for Luke,” said Crolla. “Nine out of 10 fighters would want the height and reach advantage, but with Lomachenko’s feet being good, you just don’t know if that will count for much.

“I think Lomachenko will box a little bit in the first two or three rounds. I can actually see him wanting to say to a fellow-Olympic gold medalist, ‘I’m gonna outbox you!’ That’s not being disrespectful to Luke, it’s just that Lomachenko has so many tools. Luke has to get off to a fast start, but I can see Lomachenko stepping inside and getting a stoppage in about seven rounds.”

And what about Crolla’s future plans? Admittedly in the twilight of a distinguished career, the 32-year-old stylist considered retirement in the aftermath of the Lomachenko loss. However, after some time to convalesce, the former titleholder decided on one more battle on home turf.

“I’m back in November at the Manchester Arena,” said Crolla. “It won’t be a gimme because I’d be doing that to boost my own ego. There’s not much point in that. Hopefully, I can good support like I always have in the past, and I’d like to be involved in a proper fight.”
When asked what he’d do if a victory gave him a high ranking in one of the governing bodies and a title opportunity somehow appeared, Crolla smiled and said with a twinkle in his eye, “Then it may not be the last dance!”


Tom Gray is Associate Editor for The Ring. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing



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