Anthony Crolla wasn’t exactly sure where his boxing career would take him when he turned pro 13 years ago.
What he knew in the end, though, was that it needed to come full circle.
The former lightweight titlist gets that wish granted, as he’s vowed to call it a career following a Nov. 2 showcase at the Manchester Arena in his hometown of Manchester, England.
“It’s the last one,” Crolla (34-7-3, 13KOs) vowed during Tuesday’s press conference to announce the bill. “If it couldn’t have been Manchester then there wouldn’t have been another one.
“If you stay in boxing too long, it takes more from you than you take from boxing.”
His placement on the show will come in supporting capacity to Ireland’s Katie Taylor’s bid to become a two-division titlist as the 2012 Olympic Gold medalist and reigning unbeaten, undisputed lightweight champion moves up to face Greece’s Christian Linardatou (12-1, 6KOs) for the latter’s 140-pound title.
An opponent has yet to be named for what will mark Crolla’s 14th appearance at the venue, a run which began with his Oct. 2006 pro debut. Just over 13 years later will come his attempt to claim his 10th win at home,
“Nov. 2, back where it started at the arena that’s made so many special memories for me,” noted Crolla, who claimed a lightweight title here in a 5th round knockout of Darleys Perez in their Nov. 2015 rematch, four months after fighting to a controversial draw in the same venue.
The pair of title fights marked Crolla’s triumphant return to the sport after suffering near-fatal injuries in an attempt to thwart a robbery attempt by two burglars in Dec. 2014. A blow to the skull from a slab of concrete cost him a title Jan. 2015 title shot versus Richar Abril but he’s more than made up for it since then.
His bouts with Perez kicked off a stretch of seven home appearances in an eight-fight span, including a pair of losses to Jorge Linares—his only two home defeats—to end his title reign along with a competitive but clear points win over former three-division titlist Ricky Burns in Oct. 2017.
His last appearance at Manchester Arena—a 12-round nod over Daud Yordan last November—put him in line for one final title shot. It came against arguably the very best pound-for-pound boxer in the world today, as Ukraine’s Vasiliy Lomachenko manhandled the always classy Crolla in four rounds this past April in Los Angeles, Calif.
Armed with a terrific training camp going in, the 32-year old Brit knew he left no stone unturned and at that moment was already pondering his exit strategy from the sport.
“Boxing’s been good to me, took me to so many special places,” admits Crolla. “I’ll always be thankful for that. But you can’t stay in it for too long.
“On the night (of the fight), you can’t get emotional. I’ve got to go out there and do my job. I’m there to a do a job on Nov. 2. I’m going to miss these nights but am very thankful for the memories I have.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox