News April 2014

Anthony Crolla: From Sykes to Murray. Transformation Complete


By @John_Evans79

As I drove home from Manchester’s Phones 4u Arena last night, my mind wandered back to another Saturday night spent watching Anthony Crolla fight. It is almost five years to the day since I settled on the sofa to watch a thrilling back and forth super featherweight battle between Crolla and Gary Sykes. That night, Crolla had all the technical skills but was just unable to match Sykes physically and was eventually outpointed. Apart from his fight with Juan Montiel in Las Vegas, I have been at every fight Crolla has had since that night in Stoke’s Fenton Manor Sports Complex and seen him make the transformation from a nice, talented super featherweight to a championship calibre lightweight.

Last night at Manchester’s Phones 4u Arena, Crolla, (28-4-1, 11 KO’s) won the heavily hyped 'Battle of Manchester' by beating former British and European champion, John Murray, and he did it by combining his technical skills with physical strength and bloody mindedness. Transformation complete.

Crolla’s ability to detach himself from all of the talk and hype which surrounds his fights nowadays is becoming as big a weapon as his jab. Over the past six weeks every trip to the shops will have been accompanied by a series of conversations about the fight and almost every evening taken up answering questions about it from people like me, yet, rather than allowing it to eat away at him, Crolla seems able to remain his calm, friendly self right up until his entrance music starts.

Crolla didn’t beat a rusty, out of shape Murray. At times there were glimpses of the Murray that walked through Lee Meager and bullied Gary Buckland and Crolla was forced to come through some of the most dangerous moments of his career.

During a tough first round Murray looked a step slower and a touch less powerful than he did at his rampaging best – even his shorts were a bit longer – but as the rounds passed, the ‘Murray Machine’ cranked into gear. After five, despite struggling to avoid Crolla’s jab, he had built a lead on the scorecards and had managed to drag Crolla into his kind of fight yet there was the feeling that his gas tank was emptying rapidly.

Crolla KO Murray

Murray was able to walk Crolla down, back him on to the ropes and unload his trademark attacks but - whether Crolla sensed a weakening or whether it was part of his strategy – the 27 year old began to take the centre of the ring and make Murray, (33-3, 20 KO’s), go backwards. Once the man from Chadderton by way of New Moston felt confident enough to stay in the pocket long enough to unload uppercuts, the writing was on the wall. A right hand put a busted up, tired Murray down early in round ten and although he dragged himself up, Crolla jumped right on top of him and kept punching until Terry O’Connor decided enough was enough.

Murray’s style and reputation ensure he needn’t worry about his phone falling silent and I would happily pay good money to see him attempt to regain his British title against the winner of the fight between Martin Gethin and Derry Mathews.

Crolla’s star continues to rise. As a two time world champion, Ricky Burns deserves to hold on to the title of Britain’s best lightweight for the time being but Crolla is building a pretty strong case for consideration himself. Kevin Mitchell may have a world title eliminator scheduled for the huge Carl Froch – George Groves bill but his body of work over the past year doesn’t stand up to Crolla’s.

Nobody deserves a big fight more.

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