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Anthony Crolla vs. Ricky Burns preview

Ricky Burns

By Jeff Aranow: Anthony Crolla and Ricky Burns will fight tonight in lightweight action at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. The winner of the match will see his career move forward for a possible world title shot against WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares.

It’s generally understood that Burns (41-6-1, 14 KOs) is the better fighter of the two. This is a crossroads fight for Burns and Crolla. Both fighters lost recently and both need a win to keep their careers at the highest level. Burns can ill afford a loss to Crolla, because this is someone that he’s expected to beat.

Burns and Crolla share the same promoter in Eddie Hearn. In the past, Hearn talked of making the Burns-Crolla fight when Burns’ career wasn’t going well. Burns turns things around though and won the WBA light welterweight title in 2016. With Burns losing his last fight to Julius Indongo, it appears that Hearn is hitting the panic button in making the Crolla-Burns fight now while the two of them are still viable contenders.

Crolla has lost 2 in a row, and a defeat to Burns would be a terrible for him. Crolla might have to start thinking about going in a different career direction if he gets beaten soundly by Burns. A close defeat wouldn’t be as bad, but even that wouldn’t be good for Crolla.

Burns, 34, has accomplished a lot more in his career than Crolla (31-6-3, 13 KOs). There’s no real way you can compare the two based on what they’ve achieved in boxing. Up until 2015, Crolla was a career long fringe level fighter, who many had doubts whether he would ever win a world title.

”I don’t think Crolla can out-last Burns, but I don’t know if Burns can match Crolla’s pace. Ricky is definitely a better fighter, but just what has he got left?” said Bellew to Sky Sports News. ”It’s just how much either have left. I don’t think Crolla can out-last Burns, but I don’t know if Burns can match Crolla’s pace.”

Burns has these advantages over Crolla:

• Power

• Height

• Reach

• Experience

• Speed

• Mobility

• Jab

These are the advantages that Crolla will bring into tonight’s contest with Burns:

• Hometown advantage

• Body punching/inside fighting skills

• Faster pace

Burns has a lot of things going for him in this fight. The only question is can he use his boxing skills to pound out a decision. You have to believe that if the fight is close, the judges will give it to the hometown boy Crolla. He’s going to have the boxing fans cheering for him from start to finish. That obviously didn’t help Crolla in his fights against Linares. The fans cheered, but that only motivated Linares more to fight harder, proving the point that he’s one of the best road fighters in boxing right now.

Linares almost always fights on the road, and he gets motivated when the fans are cheering for his opponents. Burns has never had to do much fighting in hostile territory. He’s generally been the A-side in his fights with the boxing fans on his side. Tonight, the Manchester crowd will be going against Burns, but I don’t know if that’s going to matter to him. Burns has so much going for him that he’ll likely do well no matter how loudly the crowd cheer for Crolla.

Burns is hoping to get a little more mileage out of his career by moving back down to lightweight. It’s been 3 years since Burns last fought in this weight class, as he moved up in weight to light welterweight in 2014. Burns did well in that weight class until facing Indongo. We could see Burns move back up to 140 if he struggles tonight or if an opportunity presents itself in that weight.

Lightweight is a division that Burns could do well in one Mikey Garcia move up to 140. Garcia’s WBC belt will become vacant, and Burns could go after it or after the fighter that grabs it. Linares would seem to be the immediate goal for Burns if he can beat Crolla and take his No.4 ranking with the World Boxing Association.

Crolla and Burns both still appear to be at top of their game, but they’ve been beaten recently by fighters that were better than them. Crolla would have always lost to Linares no matter what stage of his career he took the fight. Crolla, 30, didn’t lose to Linares because he got old overnight. Crolla lost because he didn’t have the boxing skills, power or hand speed to get the job done. For Burns’ part, he was too small and not powerful enough to defeat the 5’10 ½” Julius Indongo in their fight on April 15.

Indongo used his reach, power and southpaw stance to dominate Burns. That’s a fight that Burns would have never won earlier in his career. Burns didn’t lose because he got old. He just wasn’t good enough to beat someone like Indongo. Burns has struggled off and on during his 16-year pro career against certain guys. Burns has lost to these fighters:

• Alex Arthur

• Carl Johanneson

• Terence Crawford

• Omar Figueroa

• Dejan Zlaticanin

• Julius Indongo

Burns dodged a bullet when he was given a 12 round draw in his fight against Raymundo Beltran on September 7, 2013. Burns should have lost that fight, but he was given a draw. Burns suffered a broken jaw in round 2, and he held and moved for the last 10 rounds of the fight. The match was held in Burns’ hometown of Glasgow, Scotland.

Crolla’s opportunity came when he was put in with a weak champion in WBA belt holder Darleys Perez in their rematch on November 21, 2015. Crolla stopped Perez in the 5th round with a body shot to win his title. Unfortunately, Crolla was only able to defend the belt successfully once in stopping Ismael Barroso by a 7th round knockout last year in May 7.

Crolla lost the title to Jorge Linares by a 12 round unanimous decision last year on September 24. In the rematch, Linares beat Crolla a second time, only this time much easier in a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision on March 25 of this year.

”I was there when he fought Omar Figueroa and he took a lot – and I mean a lot – of shots in that fight,” said Bellew about Burns.

I saw Burns’ fight with Figueroa, and it wasn’t that bad of a beat down. Figueroa threw a lot of body shots, and he was working on the inside much of the time. Figueroa didn’t get a lot of leverage on his punches. Burns took more punishment in his fights with Beltran, Michael Katsidis and Jose Gonzalez. Burns beat Gonzalez and Katsidis, but he was hit a lot. I don’t think the Figueroa fight took anything out of Burns, as he looked great in his fights well after that against Kiryl Relikh, Josh King, Prince Ofotsu, and Michele Di Rocco. Even in Burns’ fight with Indongo, he looked good at times. I don’t see any slippage from Burns. He just lost to a very good fighter in Indongo.

Burns has a very good chance of beating Crolla tonight. I think it might even be a one-sided fight. As long as Burns starts off quickly, he should be able to gain the upper hand and take the crowd out of it. Crolla looked discouraged against Linares early on in their rematch last March, and he never seemed to get in the fight. If Burns can jump out ahead quickly tonight, he could make Crolla give up on himself and stop trying. The could turn out to be a very easy one for Burns.


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