By Terence Dooley
Heywood's Kieran Farrell will be home in time for Sunday’s derby between Manchester City and Manchester United despite being taken to hospital on Friday night following his unanimous decision defeat to Manchester’s Anthony Crolla at the city’s Bowler's Arena. Farrell collapsed at the end of their English lightweight title fight and was stretchered from the arena before the scorecards were read, he was taken to hospital and is being kept in until Sunday.
Leonard Gunning of Boxing-Ireland.com spoke to BoxingScene in the early hours and stated that there was a small bleed and swelling on Farrell’s brain; the 22-year-old fighter has since confirmed this via his Twitter account, but also states that he is already planning his “next move”. For now, though, the lightweight contender will take a well-deserved rest before the BBBoC take every possible step to ensure he is passed fighting fit for a big 2013.
The fight itself was a late candidate for FOTY; Farrell (134lbs) came out fast, he harassed and harried the former British champion early, only for Crolla (135lbs) to take advantage of a mid-rounds dip in pace to bring his experience and boxing ability to the fore. Scores of 99-92, 99-93 and 96-94, from Phil Edwards, Dave Parris and Terry O’Connor respectively, were a fair reflection of a fight that was always keenly fought, but became less competitive as the rounds wore on.
Farrell, though, showed a lot of grit throughout and will learn a lot from this, he is 22-years-old, 14-1 (3) and now has some valuable big fight experience under his belt. Crolla moves to 25-4 (9), he lost his British title to Derry Mathews in April and was knocked out of October's Prizefighter by Gary Buckland, who won a decision over Crolla for the second time — they first met in a torrid British super featherweight title eliminator in May 2009.
Dave Coldwell promoted last night’s show, he also promotes Mathews, who registered a single round win over Asan Yuseinov on the undercard, and he will now work on making a rematch between Crolla and Mathews. In the meantime, Crolla has a title again and, despite his concern for Farrell, he believes that he proved a lot critics wrong.
“I always knew that my skills would be the difference in this fight,” said Crolla. “For some reason people have been thinking lately that I walk forward in straight lines, but that's not me — I got the jab going and that was the difference. You've got to remember that I've only boxed three times this year, twice in Prizefighter, so I've not been as active, but my sparring was great and it worked out well for us.
“I'm not a three-round fighter, but no regrets about going in for it (Prizefighter). I'm grateful to Dave for putting me on this show. It was a great show and a great Manchester derby. Kieran is very highly charged and we knew he'd come out like that. It was his first big fight, the atmosphere was great and he just kept coming and coming.”
He added: “Kieran will be back. I always respected him, he lives and breathes the sport, like I do, and you can't help but feel respectful. I think he was looking at wearing us down — he was coming right at the end. Kieran might not be body beautiful, but he's like Brandon Rios, someone who lives boxing and comes prepared — he brought it tonight.”
Mathews’s sixth-round stoppage of Crolla was another contender for FOTY. Mathews sucked up a lot of pressure in the fight to land the higher quality shots and was a worthy winner, despite a premature stoppage from referee John Keane. It was painful viewing for the Crolla clan, but the 2006 ABA lightweight titlist is eager to resume rivalries with the Liverpudlian.
“Dave said I can fight Derry and I'm willing to fight Derry again,” he said. “That Mathews fight was hard, because of it my mam doesn't come to watch me anymore, but she'll be watching tonight’s one on Dave Coldwell TV.”
With the English title on the family mantelpiece, a rematch with Mathews in the pipeline and Christmas looming, Crolla hopes that he will be given an early present on Saturday night when Juan Manuel Marquez, his boxing idol, meets Manny Pacquiao for the fourth time. He said: “I'm going for Marquez, always Marquez, I think he won the other three fights and has got to get it this time. I love him, he's my favourite fighter.”
Joe Gallagher, Crolla’s trainer, can also reflect on a job well done, Crolla’s English title has been added to Scott Quigg’s recent interim WBA super bantamweight title win. These titles made up for a tough end to 2012 and some bad moments in 2013, particularly Crolla’s loss to Mathews, but form is temporary and Gallagher knew that the class of his fighters would tell as time ticked on. Indeed, although there was a lot of banter between Gallagher and Farrell before the fight, the Oldham-based trainer felt that his man had to be on form to hold Farrell at bay.
“This was Kieran's first fight on the big stage,” said Gallagher. “I knew he'd come out wanting to prove everyone wrong, he fought at a really high tempo. It couldn't stay like that, had to drop and Crolla took over when it did. We fought a strong kid. Crolla mixed it with him tonight and landed the cleaner work. It is a shame it ended the way it did, but huge respect to the kid — he'll come again. The kid can fight.
“I reviewed in the summer where things went wrong last year. I isolated myself and worked with hard Crolla, Quigg, Liam [Smith, who won a British light-middleweight title eliminator in November] and all the lads — you only get out what you put in. It was a rocky year, but you don't become bad fighters overnight.”
Derry Mathews (143lbs) ended his own yoyo year with an easy win after Asan Yuseinov (142lbs) sat out referee Alvin Finch’s count at 2:51 of the first after taking an uppercut. It looked a soft KO, but we are not in there taking the punches and the 29-year-old Bulgarian, now 11-5-2 (7), was out-gunned from the get-go.
Mathews started out 2012 with a loss to Emiliano Marsili, the win over Crolla propelled him into a EBU title challenge to Gavin Rees (L TKO 9) and he was cut in his first fight of Prizefighter: The Lightweights in October yet earned a decision over Jamie Spence before dropping one to eventual tournament winner Terry Flannigan.
“It was a good shot, it did get him, and I got him with a body shot as well and he tried to complain that it was a low blow,” said Mathews, 32-8-1 (17). “I am due an easy one. That was my hardest spar up to that fight because I never even sparred. I wanted to showcase what I had done in the training camp, working on different angles and not getting hit. You don't get paid for overtime in this game. Sometimes you hit them and fall over, I'm happy with how things went, but would have been happier to get some rounds in.
“I've got plans for a massive 2013. I am going to move to Scotland with [his trainers] Danny and George [Vaughan], it is the hardest thing to do, but I have to do it if I want to carry on in my boxing career.”
“It was just my eye,” he said when asked why he hadn’t sparred in the build-up. “Me and Georgie spoke and said we didn't need sparring with me eyes [both eyes have opened up during Prizefighter], thank god it worked tonight. I'm delighted that I came out injury free. I'm happy with the way things worked out. Georgie has got me in camp again next week to get ready for 2013 and January.
“I want the British title. I'm not going to chat shite here and say I'll win a world title in 2013, but the British is the best belt and Dave's trying to sort out a Commonwealth title fight in February as well. Dave's the man with the plan.”
He added: “Now I'm paying attention on the main event, if Crolla wins then I'm sure it will happen. If we can get the British title on for me and Anthony then it will be a good start to 2013. I came off a loss to Marsili and jumped straight back in with Crolla. I'll fight anyone. Ricky Burns is out of the picture, Kevin Mitchell's out of the picture and so is John Murray, so it leaves me and Crolla.”
With Burns operating at world level, Murray awaiting further news after recently failing a BBBoC medical and Kevin Mitchell coming off a loss, 2013 could be a good year for Mathews and Crolla, and Farrell as well should he decide to stay at the weight. Lightweight will still be the place to be for FOTY candidates next year, and who can grumble at that?
Please send news and views to [email protected] or Twitter @Terryboxing.