Anthony Crolla, Willie Limond: Good Friends, Now Rivals
Anthony Crolla and Willie Limond both admit they would prefer to avoid fighting one another later this month but they will put friendship aside for the sake of the British lightweight title.
Limond welcomed Crolla into his home when the Mancunian travelled to Glasgow for a training stint early in his career, but the champion will not be afforded such a warm reception when he meets the Scot again in Motherwell on November 25.
Crolla could not refuse his friend the chance to fight for the British title, which he won in February when he stopped John Watson in Liverpool.
Crolla, 24, said: "Me and Willie met three years ago. I went up to Glasgow to spar with Ricky Burns for the week ahead of his Commonwealth title.
"Willie put me up for the week. You meet a lot of nice people in boxing and Willie is right up there - he is one of the nicest people in the game.
"He welcomed me into his house and treated me with great hospitality. He even dropped me back in Manchester.
"It's a shame we have to fight and I'm sure we'll meet up after it.
"If it wasn't a British title we wouldn't be fighting but Willie wants a shot at the title.
"In the amateurs I have had to fight my friends - it's just business and there will be no falling out.
"We'll put friendship aside for an hour and I'm sure we'll put on a great fight for the fans."
Limond, who has won titles at European and Commonwealth level, agreed with Crolla's sentiments ahead of their meeting at Ravenscraig.
"It's business," he said.
"If I wasn't fighting for a title I wouldn't want to fight Anthony. It's a title fight and you put friendship aside."
Crolla also has significant professional respect for his opponent, whose only defeats in 34 fights have come against Alex Arthur, Amir Khan and Erik Morales.
"I rate Willie very highly," Crolla said.
"The only three times he has lost fights it was against world champions.
"When he fought Morales it was a very brave effort and I'm certain he wouldn't have lost in six rounds had he not been fighting at altitude."
Limond has only had one low-key fight since losing to multiple world champion Morales in front of 56,000 fans in Mexico City in September last year and he admitted he considered retirement before promoter Tommy Gilmour promised to help him relaunch his career.
The 32-year-old said: "I have to thank Tommy. I was in limbo. Tommy told me he would get me a British title fight.
"If it wasn't for him I would probably be back on a building site working.
"I've got another chance to get a title. The British title is the one everyone wants and I'm going to have to be at the top of my game."