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Anthony Colla and Ismael Barroso make weight

crolla64By Scott Gilfoid: WBA lightweight world champion Anthony Crolla (30-4-3, 12 KOs) successfully weighed in on Friday for his title defense against his mandatory challenger Ismael Barroso (19-0-2, 18 KOs) this Saturday night at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, UK.

The 29-year-old Crolla weighed in at 134.3lbs and looked like he always does at his weigh-ins. He looked more like an office worker than a fighter in contrast to Barroso. You’ve got to hope for Crolla’s sake that he brings more to the table than the way he looked at the weigh-in, because he didn’t look nearly as fierce as the powerful looking Barroso. After Crolla weighed in, he screeched to the crowd. I’m not sure what that was about.

It looked to me like some kind of primitive intimidation trick to throw Barroso off his game by giving the appearance of false confidence. I don’t believe Crolla can be feeling too confident right about now because he’s facing what is arguably the biggest puncher and the most dangerous knockout artists in the lightweight division in 33-year-old Barroso, who is coming off of a 5th round demolition job on Kevin Mitchell in his last fight in December last year in London, UK. Mitchell would likely be favored if he were fighting Crolla, even now after Mitchell’s knockout loss and his subsequent retirement.

For his part, Barroso weighed in slightly less at 134.2lbs. Barroso looked lean, and you can tell he’s going to put on some weight by the time he enters the ring on Saturday night.
“Tomorrow night I’m taking on one of the most dangerous lightweights in the world and beating him will stake my claim to being the best lightweight in the world or right up there anyway,” said Crolla to “I’m enjoying life as the champion and enjoying it too much to give it up on Saturday. I’ve got to make sure I go in there with a career-best performance and keep hold of my title.”

I don’t rate Crolla as being the best of the lightweights. In fact, I rate Crolla as the 20th best lightweight. There are ton other lightweight champions and contenders that I see as better fighters than Crolla. Here’s a short list of fighters in the division that I see as better fighters than Crolla: Jorge Linares, Rances Barthlemey, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Terry Flanagan, Kevin Mitchell [if he comes back], Ray Beltran, Denis Shafikov, Mickey Bey, Felix Verdejo, Thomas Dulorme, Jose Felix Jr., Hank Lundy, Barroso, Yvan Mendy, Luke Campbell, Robert Easter Jr., Dejan Zlaticanin, Ricky Burns and Michael Perez. I mean, you honestly think Crolla could beat someone like Felix Verdejo?

I think Crolla is a good paper champion, and I applaud his promoter Eddie Hearn in matching him against what I felt was the weakest of the lightweight champions in Darleys Perez in their fight last November. If Hearn had put Crolla in with the other champions, Linares, Flanagan, or Barthelemy, last November, he likely would have been blown out by those talents. Hearn was wise enough to go for the weak link among the champions in matching Crolla.

I do think Crolla deserved to lose his first fight with Perez last year, but he lucked out with the referee working the fight in Manchester taking two points off from Perez for low blows in the championship rounds to keep Crolla from losing that fight. Without those point deductions at a key point in the fight with Crolla losing, he would have been beaten.

“It could be cagey early on, staying nice and tight but I can’t let a big puncher like Barroso walk me around the ring teeing off those big shots so I’ve got to make sure I’m switched on. I’ve got to get his respect so there’ll be times when I’m exchanging with him,” said Crolla.

I don’t think it’s going to work for Crolla to try and get respect from Barroso, because he’s not one of those types that back off after getting hit a few times by a light puncher. If Crolla hits Barroso with one or two of his shots, you can bet that Barroso is going to keep nailing him with tremendous shots to the head and body without letup. Crolla is talking about Barroso as if he’s a different type of fighter than he is. Barroso isn’t someone that gets hit and then chooses to become a boxer for 12 rounds.

Crolla is kidding himself if he thinks he’s going to change the DNA of Barroso to that of another fighter. Barroso is a pure slugger who never stops coming forward. Eventually that fighting style will lead to him getting knocked out in the future when he faces someone that has the power to take him out, but I don’t see that happening on Saturday night against the feather-fisted Crolla. That’s why it’s pure lunacy for Crolla to talk about earning Barroso’s respect early on in the fight, as if he thinks he can tame Barroso an teach him to be a one punch at a time fighter like himself. That’s not going to happen.

Barroso is going to go out his shield against anyone he faces, because that’s his fighting style. If you don’t have the power to take Barroso out, then you’re going to take a royal beating and likely knocked out. Unfortunately for Crolla, I see that as his destiny on Saturday night. I think Crolla is going to take a beating first of all, get dropped several times, and then get stopped in that order.

If I was to give any advice to Crolla for Saturday night, I would suggest he start throwing shots from the opening bell and never stop punching for a second because I see him getting snowed under by big power shots the moment he stops throwing shots. Heck, even if Crolla does throw nonstop power shots, I think he’s going to get smashed by Barroso. I mean, there’s not a lot Crolla can do about slowing Barroso up on Saturday other than putting on his track shoes and running and holding at every opportunity. Crolla can’t stand in front of Barroso because he doesn’t have the punching power or the high volume offense that he does.

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