By Danny Winterbottom
Anthony Crolla 28-4 (11 KOs) has told Boxingscene that his experiences of the Wildcard gym in Los Angeles will ensure he doesn’t underestimate the danger posed by former world champion Gamaliel Diaz 38-11-2 (17 KOs) when ‘Million Dollar’ Crolla defends his WBO Inter-Continental title lightweight at the Phones 4 U Arena in Manchester on September 13.
“These Mexican fighters turn pro at such a young age and are matched pretty tough. They say records are for DJ’s and he (Diaz) has come in for criticism because he has 11 loses on his record but you need to look into those loses” Crolla explained
“I saw it first-hand myself whilst I was over in America during sparring. This 0-2 kid was basically beating up a guy who was being hyped up as some sort of prospect so I need to give Diaz my full attention on September 13 because speaking to Eddie (Hearn) today there is a big fight for me in November/December, maybe an eliminator for the WBO title, so I cannot afford to slip up.”
Crolla has been forced to quickly overcome the disappointment of a dream world title challenge to WBA boss Richard Abril 18-0 (3 KOs) failing through at the very last minute following the Cuban champion’s managerial complications (Abril will now defend his title on Sep 20 against Edis Tatli in Helsinki, Finland) and the distraction of a host of names being mentioned as possible opponents for the September date which included old foe Derry Mathews and American Hank Lundy.
“Derry has been offered the fight in the past but not this time” confirmed Crolla, who lost to Mathews by stoppage in an upset back in 2012 before drawing the rematch at the Echo Arena a year later.
“I would never rule out a third fight with Derry because we had two great fights, fights that were fight of the year type affairs, but at the minute he doesn’t bring anything to the table for me.”
WBA boss Abril would no doubt have been paid handsomely to travel into the backyard of Crolla to defend his title so his decision to face the largely unknown Edis Tatli 23-0 (7 KOs) of Finland following 12 months of inactivity came as a surprise to most in the game.
“Abril has managerial issues and the situation became complicated” said Crolla
“I don’t for one minute think he didn’t want to come over to Manchester and fight me and if I keep winning I have no doubt my shot will come. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason and when my world title fight arrives I will be even better prepared for it.”
When the Diaz fight was announced via a Matchroom press release along with Scott Quigg’s WBA super bantamweight ‘world’ title defence against Paulus Ambunda it wasn’t long before the show became a target for criticism from large portions of fans on social media.
“Of course I want people who have paid to support me to have a good time and feel like they have got value for money but when I get criticism from keyboard warriors who have never attended a show that just washes over me” said Crolla.
“I don’t lose too much sleep over that sort of stuff and it isn’t a case of me being happy just to get a pay day I want the fans to have a good night and I want to fight the best in the division.
“I have got a high ranking with the WBO so hopefully I could be involved in an eliminator later this year to fight the winner of Terrence Crawford and Ray Beltran. There are other options for me so that is why I need to stay focused on Diaz and to make sure I come away with the victory on September 13.”