Anthony Crolla stepped into the ring for what he says will be the final time yesterday in Manchester, England, winning a majority decision over Frank Urquiaga in front of an appreciative hometown crowd that came out to bid him farewell.
Since this is boxing, a comeback for the 32-year-old Crolla (35-7-3, 13 KO) can’t be counted out, but for the moment, he sounds like he truly intends to hang up the gloves for good. In the ring after the fight, he admitted that he knew during the fight he was “past it,” as he had some legitimate struggles with Urquiaga, who isn’t exactly world class.
And after it was all said and done, he confirmed that this was it.
“Getting the win was the main thing but now I know my time’s up,” he said later on Saturday. “I wasn’t nervous coming into the arena but it did get to me a bit when I came out here, knowing it was for the last time.”
Crolla had a fine career overall, winning a title at 135 pounds in 2015 by knocking out Darleys Perez in a rematch of a fight that went to a draw, one that Crolla really should have won. He lost the belt to Jorge Linares in 2016, and lost a rematch with Linares the next year. Earlier this year, he took another crack at world glory, and was trounced by Vasiliy Lomachenko.
Crolla’s career is one where perseverance was the real key, and that’s what should be remembered. This is a fighter who was upset in his ninth pro fight, dropping a bout to emerging journeyman Youssef El Hamidi, who was 3-8-1 at the time and is now 16-125-5 over his career.
Crolla didn’t let that put him down. He rematched El Hamidi five months later and won a shutout. He lost to Gary Sykes in 2009 and came back from that to win the British lightweight title in 2011. He lost that title to Derry Matthews in 2012, and then lost to Sykes again in the Prizefighter tournament, also in 2012. He drew with Mathews in a 2013 rematch.
In short, Crolla was really not supposed to reach the big stages. But he did. And he reached his biggest stages after major injuries suffered outside the ring, as he was left with a fractured skull and broken ankle when confronting burglars in Dec. 2014. He always just kept fighting.
From here, he plans to give back to the sport by helping to prepare its future.
“Hopefully I’ve left a bit of a legacy,” Crolla said on Saturday. “And I’ll be back in the gym training the youngsters and hopefully some of the champions of the future.”