Boxer Crolla in slab attack horror
Boxing world title hopeful Anthony Crolla is in hospital after a "sickening" attack by burglars who smashed him over the head with a concrete slab.
The 28-year-old fighter has a possible fractured skull and a broken right foot after he was attacked by two people he was chasing away from his neighbour's home, according to his trainer Joe Gallagher.
Sports promoter Eddie Hearn tweeted: "Gutted to confirm that @ant_crolla is in hospital with a head and ankle injury after confronting burglars at/near his property."
Crolla, from Manchester - known as "Million Dollar" - has fought in the super featherweight and lightweight divisions and is the current holder of the WBO inter-continental lightweight title after beating Gavin Rees.
He was due to face Richar Abril from Cuba for the WBA world lightweight title in Manchester on January 23 - but Mr Hearn tweeted that the fight was off.
He said: "Anthony is in a stable condition in Oldham hospital. Unfortunately the Jan 23rd fight is off but concerns right now are with Ant and family."
He added: "You ask anyone in boxing doubt you could find a nicer kid than Crolla, absolutely gutted for him."
Crolla was said to be concious, with his girlfriend Fran Sanderson and one-year-old son Jesse at his bedside, and Mr Gallagher, 46, said his charge was "heartbroken" at having lost his chance at the world title.
"I've spoken to him and he's heartbroken. All he was thinking about was protecting his neighbour's property and now his world title dream is over," he told the Press Association.
"He's got stitches in his head and the wound is quite deep. They said it might be a fractured skull. He has to have surgery on his foot, which is broken in two places.
"He was heartbroken and in tears but he will just have to try and get back up there."
Describing what happened, he added: "The next door neighbours were being burgled and the burglars came into his garden. He gave chase, and apprehended one of them, and the other one lifted a slab of concrete and hit him with it, and he fell and broke his ankle.
"He heard the alarm was going off and phoned his neighbours and they were not in. He saw the patio window had been put in and shouted at them so they started to run off.
"It's sickening to think someone can do that - I don't think it's really sunk in. It could have killed him stone dead.
"I hope someone will flush them out. If they're bragging about it, hopefully whoever they've talked to will do the right thing."
A host of boxing's biggest stars have sent messages on Twitter to the ailing star, wishing him a quick recovery.
Two-time world champion Amir Khan said: "Really sorry to hear the news about @ant_crolla hope you get well soon mate."
And former welterweight world champion Ricky Hatton said: "Burglars beat @ant_crolla up, after he worked so hard to get his world title shot, has severe head injuries & a broken ankle. f****** scumbags."
Audley Harrison, ex-European heavyweight champion, said: "Sorry to hear the news about @ant_crolla ... what is wrong with people. Get well soon bud."
Crolla had said about the forthcoming fight: "To have the world title shot in Manchester is a huge factor.
"Without wanting to sound cheesy, it doesn't get any bigger than that. I am a Manchester lad so to be fighting in Manchester for a world title, I couldn't ask for anything more and the only way it could get better than that is to go out there and win it."
Crolla lives in Chadderton, near Oldham.