Manchester lightweight Anthony Crolla remains the WBA title holder with a punch-perfect performance against dangerous Venezuelan Ismael Barroso in his hometown.
The 29 year-old surprised early on when he began trading with the fighter described by promoter Greg Cohen as, ‘the biggest puncher in the division’ and began to mark up quickly around the face.
After taking punishment for two rounds, Barroso visibly began to tire from round three and Crolla slowly came out of his shell to great effect. Although Barroso got off with the more hurtful punches, Crolla was picking his shots brilliantly and wearing the challenger down with every minute that passed.
Soaking up pressure to his arms and gloves, Crolla’s game-plan became more apparent from round four as ‘Million Dollar’ began to catch Barroso with enhanced regularity despite being behind on the cards after four.
In the fifth, the tide had completely changed and Barroso was unsteady on his leg and labouring badly. This allowed Crolla to dig in his body shots and hit Barroso flush for the next two sessions.
By the seventh, it was clear Barroso was completely out of it and Crolla would be able to tee off at will until the fight was over. A glancing but well-placed punch to the gut did the damage and Barroso wanted no more as his tank was all but empty.
The victory represents a career-high for Crolla and his trainer Joe Gallagher as the top UK coach explained his tactics in the post-fight interview with Sky Sports.
“People asked me in the dressing what the tactics would be and expected Anthony to box and move, but I knew we had to go into the eye of the storm,” said Gallagher.
A unification with fellow-Mancunian Terry Flanagan could now be on the cards for Crolla, who is now firmly recognised as the best 135 pound fighter on the planet after a stunning triumph.