By Ian S Palmer
The Manchester Arena in England is the site of a big domestic British showdown on Saturday, October 7th when Scotland’s Ricky Burns takes on Anthony Crolla of England. The 12-round lightweight bout can be seen live in the UK on Sky Sports. Burns lost his WBA World Super Lightweight Titles the last time out when he dropped a unanimous decision to Julius Indongo in April. Meanwhile, Crolla last entered the ring back in March when he lost his second straight unanimous decision to WBA Champion Jorge Linares.
Burns became the first ever three-weight champion from Scotland in May of 2016 when he stopped Michele Di Rocco in the eighth round to win his super lightweight belt. He’s also a former junior lightweight and lightweight champ. The 34-year-old climbs into the ring with a record of 41-6-1 along with 14 Kos. Burns’ losses have been to Indongo as well as Alex Arthur by unanimous decision in 2006, Carl Johanneson by unanimous decision in 2007, Terence Crawford by unanimous decision in 2014, Dejan Zlaticanin by split decision in 2014, and to Omar Figueroa Jr. in May of 2015 by another unanimous decision.
He also fought to a controversial 12-round split decision draw with Raymundo Beltran in 2013 in a fight many experts had Beltran winning. Burns only victories in the past couple of years have been against the likes of Kiryl Relikh, Di Rocco, Josh King, Prince Ofotsu and Alexandre Lepelley. He has been a two-time super lightweight champ, but has been taking on limited opposition lately. Burns stands 5-feet-10 inches tall with a reach of 70 inches. He’s not much of a power puncher as his current knockout ratio is just 29 per cent. He turned pro in 2001 and has 373 rounds of pro experience.
Burns is undoubtedly a durable veteran though who’s beaten the likes of former and current champions such as Roman Martinez, Kevin Mitchell, Paulus Moses and Michael Katsidis. However, he’s not really in the Grade A or elite level as we found out when he faced Crawford, Figueroa and Indongo. He’ always in good shape and is a smart boxer though with a relatively strong chin, but has been on the canvas before. He’s one of the best boxers to come out of Scotland, but is now past his peak at this point of his career.
The 30-year-old Crolla is a former WBA Lightweight Champion and will enter the ring with a record of 31-6-3 along with 12 Kos. Crolla resumed his career after suffering a fractured skull and broken ankle in an attack a couple of years ago. The boxer heard a commotion in his neighbour’s yard and decided to intervene when it looked like the neighbour was about to be robbed. Since then he’s fought Linares twice, Darleys Perez of Colombia twice with a draw and a win via fifth-round stoppage in November, 2015 to win his title, and also beat Ismael Barroso.
Crolla captured the WBA Lightweight crown in the second meeting with Perez and lost it to Linares in their first meeting in September of 2016. He stands just over 5-feet-8-inches tall and has a 67-inch reach, giving him a disadvantage in both departments against Burns. Crolla turned pro in 2006 and has gone 251 rounds since then, but like Burns, doesn’t possess much in the way of power with a current knockout ratio of just 33 per cent. Crolla’s other four losses have been against domestic opponents. He drew with Derry Mathews and was beaten by Youssef Al Hamidi and lost twice to Gary Sykes.
In addition, Mathews stopped him in the sixth round back in 2012. However, he’s also fought some decent British opponents such as Andy Morris, John Watson, Willie Limond, Gavin Rees and John Murray. Crolla has fought extremely well since his injuries and has looked world class in his encounters with Linares and Perez. He’s improved greatly over the past couple of years and more than held his own against Linares in their close first fight. He’s in with another veteran in Burns and fighting in his hometown should be a boost.
This is a tough call as Crolla has improved over the past couple of years and Burns has slipped slightly.
Neither boxer has much in the way of power and their chins are about the same. The difference could be the hometown fans for Crolla. I see this being a close fight and a draw isn’t out of the question. Crolla was impressive against Perez and Linares though and I give him the slight edge here.