With numerous big fights happening in the last couple of months of the year, especially this side of the Atlantic, this Saturday's rematch between Darleys Perez and Anthony Crolla has slipped under the radar somewhat.
Whilst neither man is as big a name as a Klitschko, Fury or Joshua, they are both quality operators and could produce the best fight of all the big match-ups that are lined up. It's certainly the most competitive bout on paper and could well end up being the most entertaining given the quality of their first bout.
Having fallen just short in their first meeting, Crolla gets a second chance at taking Perez's WBA lightweight title. Perez gets the chance to show that the first fight was a minor blip an an otherwise immaculate career and that he'll perform at a much higher standard this time around.
The champion looked slightly shocked at the noise of the Manchester crowd last time out and took a few rounds to settle down, allowing the quick starting Crolla to clearly win three of the first four rounds. Crolla's success coming through his lovely in and out of range movement and quick bursts of punches all built on from a solid jab that Perez struggled to counter.
Perez dragged himself back into the fight in the middle rounds, forcing Crolla to fight more at close range than he wanted to, which resulted in him being caught with a number of hard looking right hands. Just when it looked like Perez was getting a foothold in the fight, Crolla seemed to find his second wind and upped his work-rate to a level Perez couldn't match, the Colombian visibly struggling stamina wise in the final couple of rounds, both of which should have been scored 10-8 to Crolla due to a point deduction in each round for low blows from the increasingly desperate Perez.
When the final bell rang, all but a very small minority had Crolla the winner. Crolla and his team clearly thought he'd done enough as they hoisted him onto their shoulders and carried him around the ring, whilst a glum looking Perez half-heartedly lifted his arm more in hope than anything else.
Then the judges score were read out, leaving everyone shaking their heads in disbelief. One of them had scored the bout 114-113 for Perez (later recounted as 113-113), another 113-113, and the third a much more accurate 116-111 for Crolla. Yet again a good fight had been spoiled by some downright bizarre judging, luckily for Crolla, the judging was so patently abominable that he was granted an immediate rematch by the WBA.
There's a feeling in Perez's camp that he had an off night last time and can box much better than what he showed and he'll be a clear victor on Saturday. Crolla's camp believe it was the Mancunians tactics and ability that made Perez look average and that won't change no matter how better prepared Perez says he is.
The truth is probably somewhere between the two, whilst Perez was a notch down on his prior performances, it was down to Crolla to up his own performance to take advantage of the situation, which he did perfectly. It's a noticeable trait in Crolla's career that he tends to fight to a similar level to that of his opponent, whether that be raising his game against Perez and Gavin Rees or being below par like he was against Gary Sykes and Juan Montiel.
With that in mind, even if Perez produces his best form, it shouldn't be surprising if Crolla raises his own form yet again. The fight shouldn't be too different from the first, Perez will be trying to impose physical strength on Crolla, who'll be looking to be the busier of the two, fighting in quick bursts and using plenty of lateral movement to create openings.
The crowd should be in for another entertaining battle in what could be a closer, harder fought fight this time around. Perez should know what to expect this time around and will be better prepared but Crolla looks to have the style, speed and stamina to cause him all kinds of problems. The first eight rounds will be give and take, the final four rounds should see a strong finish from the physically fitter Crolla, enough for him to take the fight somewhere around the 115-113 mark.
The pick of the underecard sees Tyrone Nurse and Chris Jenkins clash for the vacant British light-welterweight title. The pair fought to a majority draw when they met in July and another close fight looks likely as there's very little to separate them.
The other British title fight on the card has Ryan Burnett and Jason Booth clashing at bantamweight. Booth has been a tremendous boxer and a great example of overcoming adversity to achieve things in life, he is, however, well past his best and has only won two fights in the past four years. Most worrying for Booth was that light hitting Ryan Farrag bashed up and stopped him inside four rounds earlier this year. Burnett is levels above Farrag and hits much harder. It's going to be a hard night for Booth and quite possibly a very short one.