By Keith Idec
As disappointing as it was to lose back-to-back bouts to Jorge Linares, Anthony Crolla is confident what he learned during those two defeats will help him beat Ricky Burns on Saturday night.
“I believe definitely I’m a better fighter through them fights,” Crolla told Sky Sports News, “and on Saturday night I know I’ve got to be at my very best.”
Scotland’s Burns (41-6-1, 14 KOs) and Crolla (31-6-3, 13 KOs) will meet in a 12-round lightweight fight at Manchester Arena in Manchester, England, Crolla’s hometown. Both boxers are coming off one-sided, 12-round, unanimous-decision losses – Crolla in his WBA lightweight championship rematch against Linares on March 25 and Burns to former IBF/IBO/WBA 140-pound champion Julius Indongo on April 25 – and cannot afford another defeat.
“That’s what neither of us wants to do,” said Crolla, who was much more competitive in his first unanimous-decision loss to Linares. “Neither of us wants to be dropped down a level, working our way back up. But that’s probably what the loser will have to do. There’s an awful lot at stake. The winner is almost guaranteed another world title shot.”
Crolla, 30, is proud he and Burns, 34, have remained respectful toward one another throughout the promotion of their fight, which will headline a Sky Sports Action telecast set to start at 7 p.m. BST.
“It’s a proper fight, with two lads, me and Ricky,” Crolla said, “we don’t talk nonsense, we won’t be throwing punches or tables at press conferences. But we both have prepared to dig so deep, and that’s what I think it will come down to Saturday night as well.
“I’m fighting a three-weight world champion, Ricky Burns, a fantastic fighter, and I think our styles cannot help but gel to be a fantastic fight. I’m really excited for it. I think the fans will be the winner.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.