By Alexey Sukachev
Phones 4 U Arena, Manchester - In a classic Battle of Manchester, WBO I/C lightweight champion Anthony Crolla overcame a very rocky start to continue his rally to an occasional world title shot with an impressive tenth-round stoppage of comebacking former world title challenger John Murray.
Murray (now 33-3, 20 KOs) came back in November 2013 after two years off the ring and stopped little-known Michael Escobar. His stock raised much higher a month ago, when he also stopped well-known domestic contender John Simpson. Murray, 29, picked up where he had left against WBO #6 Crolla. He used his physical power and punch output to force the defending champion on the defensive. Murray was all over Crolla, throwing and landing numerous punches from different angles.
Two subtle details were only seen to a cautious observer, however. Firstly, none of these punches really hurt Crolla, who was taking this punishment in a very solid way. Secondly, Murray was rapidly punching himself out. He took the first four stanzas but it was when he found Crolla was in his face, asking for more, that his plan went out the window. From round five, situation has undergone a considerable turnaround. Crolla began to land more and more blows of his own. Rounds five and six were about his body shots, which considerably slowed Murray down.
In the seventh, the comebacking challenger saluted the crowd one last, landing some heavy bombs. From that point on the fight was all Crolla. His uppercuts added to his body shots and repeatedly tagged Murray. The latter, his nose bleeding and his left eye rapidly closing, became very stiff on his feet. Crolla continued to do damage in the tenth and finally put exhausted Murray down. John got up only to eat several more shots before referee Terry O'Connor has waved it off. Huge win for Crolla, who moves up to 28-4-1, 11 KOs.