11 months ago, Anthony Crolla sustained a fractured skull when attempting to prevent a robbery at his neighbor's home. Four months ago, he was gutted to receive a draw in a fight he had appeared to win, which would have netted him the WBA lightweight title. Tonight in Manchester, he did it, knocking out Darleys Perez in the fifth round of their rematch to win his first world title.
Crolla (30-4-3, 12 KO) fought very comfortably in this bout, with Perez (32-2-1, 20 KO) also looking a bit better than he did in July, when he says he was suffering from an allergic reaction that hampered his performance. Both fighters kept a healthy pace in the rematch, letting their hands go and leaving the referee to stand and observer, as a referee would always prefer.
The body work from Crolla, mixed with some good jabs, had him with the edge on our card after four rounds, winning three of those. With 30 seconds left in the fifth round, Perez was suddenly decked on a vicious body shot, and though he tried to get himself going and back to his feet, it was a struggle he simply couldn't win, and was left down for the count.
Crolla, 29, is regarded as one of boxing's true "nice guys," and his hometown world title win is a huge feel-good moment not just for the fighter and his dedicated fans, but really for just about everyone watching, and is one of the better stories of the year in boxing.
On the undercard, Tyrone Nurse and Ryan Burnett claimed vacant British titles, with Nurse beating Chris Jenkins for the 140-pound title, and Burnett shutting out veteran Jason Booth over 12 rounds for the bantamweight belt.