By Shaun Brown
“I don’t hold grudges but I do want to put things straight.” It only took a dozen words from Anthony Crolla, 23-3 (9), to sum up his feelings three-months on from his mini-barn burner with Derry Mathews.
The 25-year-old is not so much licking his wounds these days, more kicking himself at what he did on that April night in Oldham. Momentum was with the then champion. The Mancunian was improving with every contest and the word round the campfire was that he would be the Englishman to face Ricky Burns for his world title and not Kevin Mitchell.
Mathews was reading every career ending cliché in the boxing press. Not many gave him a prayer but the Liverpudlian talked the talk. He predicted he’d take the fight by the proverbials and take the title back to Merseyside.
“I did a lot of things wrong on the night,” Crolla told BoxingScene. “I walked into a shot and it took a lot out of me. The next round I got cut and I had to change tactics. To be honest I don’t think the referee did me any favours stopping it when he did, but he did what he thought was right. And contrary to what some people said, including Derry, I didn’t take my eye off the ball. I always said I’d never look past Derry, I always knew it was a dangerous fight.
“When I watched the fight back, not long after, I could see what I did wrong straight away. I’m not going to lie, there are things I’ve got to address, but that’s to do with my boxing and nothing else. I was doing things in the fight I hadn’t been trained to do. I had a great camp, but I had a bad night at the office.”
With the cobwebs dusted off and a welcome break been and gone the popular pugilist has got himself back into the gym under the watchful eye of his trainer Joe Gallagher. Crolla continues to tick over, working on his fitness as he waits on the call for fight number 27.
The former champion is among an ever decreasingly pack of runners who are in the hunt for a British title shot. The picture isn’t clear and Crolla’s unsure who or what will be next, but his trainer sees no reason why he shouldn’t get another crack at his old strap.
“All this talk that you can’t get a British title shot after you’ve lost is bollocks,” snarled Joe Gallagher. “Just look at the European title these days. Doesn’t matter if you’ve won or lost last time out, you’re in the running.
“Right now there’s Carl Johanneson fighting Tommy Coyle in an eliminator [Carl’s second such fight this year], Gavin Rees might be fighting for a world title and Derry Mathews is fighting [Mzonke] Fana. So where does that leave Anthony [Writers note: Mathews is now in Prizefigher ‘The Lightweights’ II on Oct 6 and Walsall’s Martin Gethin is rumoured to be closing in on a Commonwelath title shot as well].”
So by process of elimination, what about Crolla versus top ten contender Ben Murphy? “We’d fight Murphy at the drop of a hat for the British title,” Gallagher replied.
Murphy’s manager Mickey Helliet tweeted the following on July 19th: ‘Crolla & @gallaghersgym ran from Murphy B4 & r no doubt going2still be making excuses as 2why they can’t fight Murphy.’
Crolla vs. Murphy then, seems a logical fight? “If I don’t get a British title shot then I want whoever is going to be champion as soon as possible,” said Crolla.
With the next British Boxing Board of Control meeting scheduled for next month hopefully the 135lb division will begin to see the woods for the trees. Crolla was frustrated at not getting a rematch with Mathews but perfectly understood as to why his conqueror laid it all on the line in defeat against Gavin Rees at the start of July.
And just as his Hatton Promotions stablemate, Martin Murray told ‘Scene this month Crolla wants to be a bit busier than he currently is.
“Well I’ve only had one fight in 2012,” he said. “I’d like a couple of fights at least, before the end of the year. After the Mathews fight I was disappointed for weeks and weeks so the more I’m out the more I can put that to bed.”