Crolla aiming to ‘shock the world’
The 32-year-old goes toe-to-toe with Vasyl Lomachenko in Los Angeles.
Anthony Crolla will look to significantly burnish his legacy on Friday night but the Manchester fighter is already satisfied with what he has achieved in the ring.
Not many would have tipped Crolla for world honours in 2012 after he followed up losing his British lightweight title to Derry Mathews with defeat to Gary Sykes in a Prizefighter tournament.
But three years later he wrenched the WBA lightweight crown from Darleys Perez, successfully defended the belt against Ismael Barroso before coming up short in a pair of bouts against the highly-regarded Jorge Linares.
Crolla has since rebuilt with three successive victories, the last of which – a points win over Daud Yordan last November – made him the mandatory challenger for WBA and WBO lightweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko.
The Ukrainian, who has won world titles in three weight classes to sit near the top of many observers’ mythical pound-for-pound lists, is 1/100 with many bookmakers to defeat Crolla at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Rather than deterring him, the odds and the prospect of causing a seismic upset stimulate Crolla.
He told Press Association Sport: “I first came into boxing to win a world title, which I’ve done, to try to get a house out of it, which I’ve done, to make life a little easier for the family.
“I’ve achieved everything that I’ve wanted to but all I’m focused on now is shocking the world.
“There’s so much more I still want to do, to win this would be the ultimate.
“The motivation for me is pulling off one of the biggest wins by a British fighter in boxing history and that’s what it would be, I’m not exaggerating.”
The Ukrainian’s rapid progress through the divisions owes much to his outstanding in-ring attributes, with his timing, hand speed, athleticism and footwork coming in for particular praise.
I've achieved everything that I've wanted to but all I'm focused on now is shocking the world. Anthony Crolla
Crolla, while respecting Lomachenko’s abilities, feels no one is unbeatable.
He said: “This is the hardest test of my career but I believe I belong at world title level, it’s just that there happens to be a fantastic fighter who is the world champion.
“He’s a bit different to anyone else, he’s so unorthodox, very clever and he’s got unbelievable movement.
“There are very few weaknesses but no one is indestructible or invincible.”
🗣 “I wanted a big one and I've got myself into mandatory position to face him. It’s about the challenge. I've got myself into this place, so I want to make the most of it!” - @ant_crolla #LomaCrolla pic.twitter.com/pnHyoN5UuF— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) April 10, 2019
At 32 and ahead of his 44th professional contest, Crolla knows he is closer to the end of his career than the start but he has no immediate plans to retire, and a homecoming is clearly on the agenda.
He added: “All I’m focused on is this fight. I’m not stupid, I know I’m coming towards the latter part of my career.
“But I fight Vasyl Lomachenko and then I’d love to fight again in Manchester at some point this year and then I’ll weigh up my options as to what I do with my boxing career.”
Both men weighed in below the 135lb limit, Crolla tipping the scales 4oz heavier at 134.8lbs.