By Keith Idec
Whatever you might think about Anthony Crolla’s chances next week, he isn’t about to apologize for his mandated shot at Vasiliy Lomachenko.
The former WBA world lightweight champion is certain he has “earned” this opportunity to upset the uniquely skilled Ukrainian southpaw. That said, numerous odds-makers have installed Lomachenko (12-1, 9 KOs) as a 100-1 favorite in a 12-round, 135-pound title fight ESPN will televise April 12 from Staples Center in Los Angeles.
England’s Crolla, 32, has won three straight fights since suffering back-to-back, unanimous-decision defeats to former WBA champ Jorge Linares. Crolla’s first fight against Linares in September 2016 was much more competitive than their 12-round rematch in March 2017.
Lomachenko knocked out Linares with a perfectly placed body shot last May 12 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Venezuela’s Linares was ahead on one scorecard when Lomachenko knocked him out in the 10th round of their scheduled 12-rounder (86-84, 85-85, 84-86).
Crolla’s performances against Linares (45-5, 28 KOs), in addition to his more recent points victory over former WBO lightweight champ Ricky Burns (43-7-1, 16 KOs), have left Crolla confident with barely a week to go before he enters the ring against a three-division champion who won two Olympic gold medals.
“I’ve boxed at an elite level before, been at a world-title level for a number of years now,” Crolla told Sky Sports after a recent training session. “And I said I’ve earned this shot. It’s not been given to me. I know on April the 12th I’m gonna have to pull out something bigger than I ever have before in my career, but I look forward to trying.”
The realistic Crolla (34-6-3, 13 KOs) realizes exactly what he’ll be up against once he enters the ring to meet the 30-year-old Lomachenko.
“Without a doubt, it would be one of the biggest upsets in sport in recent years,” Crolla said. “And again, I’m not speaking out of turn, but that’s a massive motivation for me. I won’t be in awe going over there, none whatsoever. I’d say I’ve put myself through it in this camp, worked far too hard to let that happen. So, I’m going over there confident I can do that.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.