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Anthony Crolla vs. Ismael Barroso on May 7 in Manchester

LatestBy Scott Gilfoid: Well, WBA lightweight world champion Anthony Crolla (30-4-3, 12 KOs) received the bad news today that he is now scheduled to make his first defense against his #1 WBA mandatory challenger Ismael Barroso (19-0-2, 18 KOs) on May 7 at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, UK. This is a good fight for some of the boxing fans, but probably not so good for Crolla. It’s going to be an entertaining fight while it lasts, but I don’t see Crolla having any way of keeping Barroso off of him in this contest. Barroso is like glue that you just can’t get off of him no matter how hard you try.

There was no way of getting around this fight for the 29-year-old Crolla due to Barroso being the WBA mandatory challenger. It was either face Barroso and whatever comes of that fight or give up the title. Crolla obviously never considered vacating or letting the World Boxing Association strip him of the strap.

Crolla just won the WBA belt last November in scoring a miracle 5th round knockout over the hard hitting Darleys Perez in their rematch in Manchester. You can make a strong argument that Perez should have never had to fight Crolla a second time after he clearly beat him in their first contest in July of last year.

That was the fight the judges scored a 12 round draw after Perez was docked points in the 11th and the 12th rounds by the referee. The point deductions were crucial to Crolla not losing that fight. I guess you can say the point deductions saved Crolla’s hide. It’s never good to escape a loss with consecutive point deductions, especially in your own hometown because it looks odd from an oustand standpoint.

Crolla will be back inside the same venue that he got a miracle win against Perez for his title defense against the 33-year-old Barroso. This is going to be a very, very tough fight for Crolla though, because Barroso is coming off of a brilliant 5th round knockout win over Kevin Mitchell last December at the O2 Arena in London, UK. Barroso never stopped punching for a second in mowing Mitchell down and putting him on the canvas three times.

There is little chance of Barroso being docked points repeatedly by the referee for throwing low blows against Crolla on May 7, because he’s a head hunter. Unless they change the rules to make it illegal to throw punches to the head, I don’t think Barroso will lose points in the Crolla contest. As such, Crolla is going to need some kind of other fight-saving miracle to help him out against Barroso because without it, I think he’s going to get blasted out in short order.

Barroso will not let the fight go to the cards so the judges can score it. It’s safe to say that the judges won’t have much to do on May 7 other than to watch the spectacle.

“I know it’s going to be a tough fight, but it’s a fight I’m very confident that I can come through,” said Crolla via skysports.com. “I’m getting stronger all the time and I’ll use my skills, but if the stoppage is there and I hurt him, then I won’t be surprised.”

I am not very confident of Crolla’s chances to win this fight. I’m not confident that Crolla can get a controversial draw either like he did against Perez in their first fight. The problem that Crolla has, besides him being totally over-matched in this fight, is he can’t punch whatsoever. There’s literally nothing that Crolla has that can keep a knockout artist like Barroso off of him.

Yeah, I’ve heard Crolla and his trainer talk about how they saw something in Barroso’s fight with Mitchell that they think they can capitalize on, but I don’t believe they can take advantage of anything Barroso will do in the ring. Supposedly, Barroso is vulnerable to body shots. Who knows? Maybe Barroso is vulnerable to body shots. However, in order for Crolla to throw body punches, he’ll need to leave himself open to getting hit by Barroso’s nonstop punches.

If Crolla tries to setup a body punches by lowering his head and winding up, he’s going to get mowed down. That’s why Mitchell didn’t try and throw body shots. There was no opportunity to. When you’re facing a guy that never stops throwing punches like Barroso, you literally cannot throw any shots to the body because if you do, you’re going to get flattened right way. Barroso is another Aaron Pryor type of fighter who never stops throwing head shots. If you wondered why Pryor was never hit with body shots by his opponents, it’s because he didn’t stop throwing shots.

“Hopefully I’ll be celebrating and I can go straight to watch Amir against ‘Canelo’ Alvarez,” said Crolla. “Obviously it’s a big ask, but I’m one of those who thinks that Amir has got a fantastic chance of pulling it off. He’s got the style to give ‘Canelo’ a lot of problems.”

Look at this; Crolla is starting to sound delusional. He’s like a guy on a sinking ship and he doesn’t even realize it. Instead of Crolla focusing on the task at hand against Barroso, he’s flapping his gums about wanting to watch the Amir Khan vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez fight, which will be taking place on the same night.

What is Crolla? Is he a fighter or a fan? I think Crolla needs to sit down and think hard about what he’s about to go up against. Barroso is like a giant tsunami heading Crolla’s way and he has little chance of stopping it from coming at him. But the amusing thing is that instead of Crolla focusing on the Barroso fight, he’s lost in reverie, day dreaming about wanting to see the Canelo-Khan fight on the same night. It’s so sad.

I think Crolla’s trainer needs to pour a bucket of water over his head to wake him up and make him understand what he’s facing on May 7 in his fight against Barroso. This is an unstoppable force Crolla is going up against, a force of nature if you will. There’s no stopping Barroso. About the only thing Crolla can do is hope to survive to the 12th and hope that the fight can go to the cards. Who knows?

Maybe Crolla might get lucky with the same scoring that we saw in the Crolla-Perez fight. I had Perez easily winning that fight, but the judges scored it a draw. If Crolla can go the distance with Barroso, maybe he’ll get lucky again. Crolla is fighting at home in Manchester and he might get lucky with that nice scoring.

“Anthony Crolla is jumping straight in with a cracking first defense against Barroso,” Crolla’s promoter Eddie Hearn said. “Barroso is one of the most dangerous fighters in the business, but Anthony continues to improve, and right now I believe he is the man at 135 pounds, and he’ll prove it on May 7.

Hearn believes that Crolla is the best fighter in the lightweight division. Really? I hate to disagree with Hearn, but I don’t rate Crolla as even the fifth best fighter in the lightweight division. I rate the following lightweights as far ahead of Crolla: 1. Jorge Linares 2. Ismael Barroso 3. Felix Verdejo 4. Terry Flanagan 5. Rances Barthelemy 6. Yuriorkis Gamboa 7. Ray Beltran 8. Denis Shafikov 9. Mickey Bey 10. Petr Petrov 11. Ghislan Maduma. I do not see Crolla as the “best man at 135” like Hearn. I think Crolla is at least No.15 in the division. Right now, I see Crolla as a paper champion who is about to be exposed badly by a far more talented fighter in the division in Barroso. The only thing Barroso will be doing on May 7 is bringing some normalcy to the lightweight division by weeding out a weak champion. As Anthony Joshua likes to say, ‘the cream always rises to the top.’ I see that happening with Barroso easily whipping Crolla to take his WBA title and sending him skittering back to the contender ranks where he rightfully belongs.

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