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Crolla, Farrell Hope To Raise The Roof in Manchester

By Terence Dooley

Coldwell Boxing returns to Manchester tonight armed with a solid, tight bill and a bill topper that has piqued the interest of the trade and fans alike.  Anthony Crolla meets Kieran Farrell for the vacant English title in the main event, the winner could take on Derry Mathews, Coldwell Boxing’s most recent recruit and the night’s chief support act — the Liverpudlian takes on Asan Yuseinov over eight-threes.

“It is a great fight,” said Crolla, 24-4 (9), at the final press conference.  “Kieran’s a young lad, I respect anyone who live the game the way he does.  The talking will be done in the ring.  I genuinely feel back to my best now and plan on showing that on Friday night.  Derry’s on the undercard, people say that if we both come through then that’s one people want to see, but I’m not looking past Kieran.  It puts me back in the frame for the British title, there’s a lot riding on this Friday night.”

Farrell, 14-0 (3), is bracing himself for a resurgent “Million Dollar” Crolla.  His opponent may be 1-2 in 2012, a British title loss to Derry Mathews followed by a Prizefighter win over Stephen Jennings then a close loss to former foe Gary Sykes that same night, but the 26-year-old is still a quality operator and has been in this position before. 

When Crolla hooked up with trainer Joe Gallagher in 2009 he was coming off a British super featherweight title eliminator defeat to Sykes.  Wins over Jon Baguley and Michael Brodie stopped the rot.  Then a move to lightweight followed by British title wins over John Watson and, later, Willie Limond brought Crolla close to a shot at WBO boss Ricky Burns.  Gallagher and Crolla are kings of the comeback, and Farrell knows it.

“I’m glad Anthony’s bringing his best because when I beat him on Friday, I can shake his hand and say I beat the best Anthony Crolla,” said Farrell.  “I’m 22-years-old, it is about time I stepped up, I’ll admit that.  I’m not bothered about anybody, if Dave told me I was fighting Manny [Pacquiao] next then I’d say: ‘Stick him in’.” 

Farrell, though, has a lot on his plate in this one.  I attended both their debuts.  Crolla turned over with a win over Amir Rashid in 2006; he clocked in at 133lbs and was that year’s ABA titlist at 135.  Farrell turned over in 2009; the Heywood-based boxer weighed 112lbs that night and absolutely battered Gary Shell.  Both men were impressive in their maiden outings, but Crolla is naturally bigger and has stellar amateur pedigree, which makes things tough for Farrell, especially as he may not have enough pop to keep his foe at bay.

However, John Breen, Farrell’s trainer, believes that the youngster has the eye of the tiger and is picking his man for the top titles, especially if Coldwell continues to keep him busy and provides more learning fights like this one.

“I like Dave, he’s got Kieran a lot of fights, four in 2012, so it allows him to be busy and develop and we’ve got Dave to thank for that,” said Breen.  “You like to see kids fighting.  If someone promises them three fights then delivers it is fantastic because it allows us to see Kieran — I’ve seen enough to think he’ll go all the way.  Fair play to these guys and Kieran himself, they’re doing the things they need to do to move on and Kieran especially is leaving his family to train over in Belfast with me, so I think that shows a lot.”

The show comes hot on the heels of Coldwell Boxing’s October 12 ‘Made In Manchester’ show and the main event encapsulates the ethos of Coldwell, who believes that tougher financial times require tougher matchmaking, but that this approach will eventually pay dividends in the form of hardened fighters who are prepared to take risks.

“This fight is what British boxing is all about,” said Coldwell.  “Neither guy had to take this, but they’re proper fighters.  It is a genuine fight.  Anthony’s a slight favourite, but myself and Kieran think that, on Friday, Kieran’s going to arrive in British boxing.  Kieran will bring it.”

Both Farrell and Crolla are firm fans favourites, they know how to play the game and can shift tickets.  Coldwell has no truck with fighters who won’t take a risk yet complain that they find it hard to bring fans onboard.  According to Coldwell, the days of fighters sitting on huge unbeaten runs before fighting anyone remotely dangerous are long gone, and the fans will benefit from this.

“Boxing’s boxing, if you’re saying your fans won’t sell tickets until you have a big fight, then you’re not going to fight because you’re not selling tickets,” he said.  “Then you have guys who are happy to fight journeymen all the time, so they’re never going to sell to their fans.  What do fans want to see?  They want to see good fights, but they’re paying a lot of money for tickets and you want to keep them in their seats, so you need good names and the names have to fight each other.

“I’ll try to make decent fights.  Carl Greaves, Jon Pegg, Steve Wood, everybody is saying the same thing — fighters don’t want to fight anyone.  A professional boxer, to me, is someone who is willing to go out there, take risks and fight.  What gets me is that a lot of kids who are new to the game think they can get to 10-15 and 0 by boxing journeymen and building up a record, but the majority of these kids turning pro now wouldn’t have been of the left side of the bill a few years ago.

“It used to be that you had to be a shit hot ABA champion or star amateur or sell a shed-load of tickets.  Now you’re getting kids who have had a couple of unlicensed fights or a handful of amateur fights, never won a title, and they’re saying: ‘I want to sign with a top promoter, what type of deal will I get?’.  Hang on a minute — what qualifies you for that?  These type of guys are making the game hard.  They’d have been in the away corner a few years ago, not coming to win, but coming to make the fight hard.  Now there’s that many different promoters that they think they’re owed a deal.”

Coldwell, though, has overcome this problem by signing fighters who are prepared to take a risk or two, or three, four and five in the case of Derry “I ain’t got time to bleed” Mathews.  Coldwell’s philosophy has resulted in strong bills, which have drawn a lot of praise within the game.

“Dave’s one of the new breed of promoters coming through and putting on good shows,” said Joe Gallagher, Crolla’s trainer.  “Not only that, he has a relationship with his fighters. That’s what you want from your promoter.  Everyone knows what they’re doing on Dave’s shows — they all have a job to do and Dave’s doing his own sellout shows.  He brings a bit of razzmatazz, a lot of atmosphere and he’s signed a good batch of kids — Dave’s speculating to accumulate.”

Gallagher isn’t alone, Coldwell’s promotions may not regularly feature on Sky TV, BoxNation or Channel 5, but they attract plenty of trade support.  Jamie Moore, the former fighter turned Sky pundit, is a fixture at the shows, he thinks that shows such as Friday’s help keep the sport alive and are a good companion to Sky’s output.

“I think what Dave is doing is great,” said Moore.  “Boxing needs top-quality, well matched shows.  Lads have to get used to being matched in tougher fights than lads had in other years.  Dave is one of the main ones without a TV deal who has stepped up to the plate and done that.  It really does bring in the crowds.

“I’ve never thought of promoting myself because I know how much hard work it is.  People are losing money on almost every show so they have to do it out of the love of it.  If I was the likes of Ricky or Oscar then I’d do it to keep boxing alive, but I’m not in that position so I admire guys like Dave.”

Visit the following link for information about how to view Friday’s show online: http://www.coldwellboxing.com/

Please send news and views to [email protected] or Twitter @Terryboxing.

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