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Crolla vs. Burns: Anthony wants title fight if victorious

Ricky Burns

By Scott Gilfoid: Despite losing 2 out of his last 3 fights, former lightweight champion Anthony Crolla (31-6-3, 13 KOs) believes he could get a world title shot if he beats former 3 division world champion Ricky Burns (41-6-1, 14 KOs) this Saturday night in their fight at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, UK.

Crolla would like another shot at WBA champion Jorge Linares or WBO belt holder Terry Flanagan. The way Crolla, 30, sees it, Burns is a talented enough fighter for him to get a title fight if he can beat the 34-year-old. Both guys are coming off of defeats unfortunately. For the winner to get a title shot straightaway, it might be viewed as a tad bit unfair to the many lightweight contenders that have been waiting for their shot at a title.

“Win this fight on Saturday night and I’m right back in world title contention,” Crolla told Sky Sports News.

“The fights against Linares didn’t go my way; I know I’ve got to rebuild. But I don’t want to be dropping down a level after being at this level for a good few years.” said Crolla to Sky Sports news. “I don’t plan on moving up three weights but I certainly want to win back a world title.”

That might be a tad bit too ambitious on Crolla’s part for him to be dreaming of a world title fight if he can get past Burns on Saturday night. There are a lot of things that come into play unfortunately. Crolla would have to look REALLY good beating Burns. I mean, this couldn’t be one of those controversial hometown decisions for Crolla. With the fight being in his backyard in Manchester, which plays into it potentially for a controversial decision if the fight is anywhere close.

I’m hoping the judges and referee do a quality job working the fight, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if we see something odd happen like we saw in Crolla’s 12 round draw against Darleys Perez in their first fight on July 18, 2015. That was a fight were Crolla looked to be on the verge of losing to Perez going into the last 2 rounds of the fight. The referee then took control over the fight, playing a crucial factor in Crolla not losing by taking off points from Perez in rounds 11 and 12 for low blows.

In looking at the action in slow motion, the referee clearly blew it in his call in the 11th round by taking a point off from Perez for hitting Crolla on the belt-line of his trunks. Crolla reacted to the shot by doubling over, making it seem as if he’d been hit low, when in fact he hadn’t. That was blown call number one by the referee. The second blown call came in the 12th round with Crolla pulling down on Perez’s head with both arms at the same time he was throwing a punch. Perez’s punch landed low ONLY because his head was being pulled down by Crolla. The referee completely basically took a point away from Perez for something that Crolla initiated. In boxing, you’re not supposed to pull your opponent’s head down to try and gain an advantage. Crolla got away with it and Perez was deducted a point.

Former cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew believes the winner of the Crolla vs. Burns fight should be given a world title fight.

”Victory should lead to a potential world title shot because whoever wins this has just beaten another world-class fighter, so why shouldn’t they get another go,” said Bellew.

There’s obviously nothing to stop a world champion from hand-picking the winner of the Burns vs. Crolla fight for an opponent in their next fight. But it would be a better look if they at least waited until the winner of the Burns-Crolla fight beat someone highly ranked in the 130 lb. division in order to get a second win in a row before given a title shot. I mean, Crolla and Burns both lost their last fight. In Crolla’s case, he’s lost his last TWO fights. They should at least win 2 fights in a row before getting another shot. If the Crolla-Burns winner gets a title fight straightaway, it makes it look too much like they’re getting the title shot because of their popularity rather than their achievement.

In other sports, you got to work your way to the championship games by beating teams to get there. You don’t go to the Super Bowl after you lose the Championship game in the NFL. Your season is over when you lose the Championship game. Just for the sake of fairness, the winner of the Crolla vs. Burns fight should at least have to face a young lion at the top of the lightweight rankings like Luke Campbell before fighting for a title. Campbell has already said he wants the winner of the Burns-Crolla fight. That would be perfect for either of them to face the recently beaten Campbell. He lost to WBA champion Jorge Linares last month by a 12 round decision, and he’s been complaining ever since how he was robbed. Talk about your sore losers. Crolla has already gone on record to say he’d be open to fighting Campbell if he gets past Burns.

Campbell, 30, is going to have a dickens of a time trying to beat Burns on Saturday. Regardless of how much crowd support he gets from his Manchester boxing fans, Crolla is really up against it in facing Burns. This is an even tougher fight for Crolla than his recent back to back losses to Linares.

Burns has a bunch of different ways he can beat Crolla, and I suspect we’ll see a little of everything from him in this fight. Burns is good at using the hit and run style in which he comes in quickly, lands 3 shots, and then dashes away without getting hit. Burns can also fight on the inside and rough up his opponents. At 34, Burns is still quick on his feet, and capable of moving laterally around the ring for 12 rounds. Burns can be hard to hit when he wants to be. Crolla doesn’t have the reach to contend with Burns if he chooses to keep it an outside game.

Honestly, I can’t see how Crolla wins this fight against Burns without a controversial scoring of the fight or a referee that goes on cruise control and starts penalizing the Scottish fighter repeatedly in the later rounds. If Burns is penalized 2 or 3 times early on, I still think he wins. The reason why is I thought Burns will turn on the heat and look to knockout Crolla. But if the penalization’s occur in the 11th or 12th rounds, like it did in the first Crolla-Perez fight, then I see Burns losing. It would be nice if the referee did a top rate job of working the fight this Saturday. We don’t need controversy surrounding this fight. The objective is for the winner of the Crolla vs. Burns fight to move on to bigger and better things. If the Burns and Crolla fight outcome is controversial, there will be huge cry for a rematch. That’s a waste of time for these two guys. The winner needs to move on, and the loser must consider his options.

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