By Chris McKenna, courtesy of The Daily Star
ANTHONY CROLLA has revealed that getting whacked on the head by a concrete slab may have floored him but it has sent his profile soaring.
The Manchester fighter takes on Darleys Perez for the WBA lightweight title on Saturday night in his hometown.
And there will be a few more 'bums on seats' according to Crolla after his last shot at the title was ruined when he tried to be a good neighbour.
Crolla, 28, was attacked as he chased two men out of his next-door neighbours' house believing they were burglars.
But in the chase one of them cracked the Manchester-born boxer with a paving slab and he was left with a fractured skull as well as a broken ankle in the fall.
Crolla - who has won 29 of his 35 fights - was a relative unknown outside of the sport before the attack.
Now he is a well-known name in Britain and hopes to add to that by becoming world champion in the Manchester Arena, where his idol Ricky Hatton became world champion 10 years ago.
Crolla said: "There is no doubt that it has helped me.
"There are better ways of raising your profile than getting a concrete slab over your head but without a doubt it has helped me.
"I'm not stupid, I know there are a few more bums on seats because of what happened.
"Some people will be attending their first boxing event because of that and I hope they enjoy it and have a great night.
"If it brings more fans to boxing then that will be a great thing."
That may be why Crolla has forgiven his attackers.
He said: "I have forgiven them. I don't know who they are or where they are.
"I hope they have got better from doing what they were doing, I'm better now from what happened.
"I have forgiven them and I hope they have turned their life around."
Taking such a blow to the head meant Crolla had a nervous wait to see if he would be passed fit to fight again by the British Boxing Board of Control.
But once he got the green light there was no fear about getting hit on the head on his return to sparring.
He said: "There were no nerves or anything. It was just excitement because I wanted to show there were no after effects.
"I was looking forward to getting in there and getting punched in the head as stupid as it sounds.
"There was nothing, as soon as I got in there it didn't feel like I'd been gone for six months."
Crolla has had plenty of celebrity support ahead of his clash with Colombian Perez, who has lost just once in 33 fights.
That includes the like of Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney and Crolla - a big Red Devils fan - would love nothing more to walk out on the Old Trafford pitch at the start of next season with the WBA belt.
He added: "I would love to bring the belt out at half time in the first home game of the season."