Crolla Knocks Out Perez In Five, Wins Lightweight Title

By Jake Donovan

Ten years after Ricky Hatton won his first championship in this very venue and nine years after his own pro debut on site, Anthony Crolla realized his career-long dream of capturing a major title.

It took four months longer than expected to deliver the storybook ending, but Crolla  cam e up aces with a fifth round knockout of Darleys Perez in their rematch Saturday evening at Manchester Arena in Manchester, England.

The hosting site may very well be the house that Hatton built, but Crolla drew an equally electric response from his hometown fans in his second crack at Perez. The two fought to a controversial draw in their first fight this past July. 

Crolla had no intentions of leaving it in the judges' hands this time around. That said, action was slow out the gate, as both fighters were feeling each other out in the early rounds. Crolla was constantly bouncing on his toes while Perez sought to establish his jab and eventually his right hand.

There was little to choose from in rounds one and two, but Crolla turned a corner in round three. Right hand shots were key in keeping the visiting champion from Colombia on the defensive, but it wouldn't be what ended the fight. 

"I was really confident of getting Perez out of there," Crolla said in reflection of the fight. "I thought it would be a head shot, but I'll take that body shot any day of the week." 

It was a peach of a left hook that put Perez down in round five. The shot was enough to keep the champ on the deck for the full ten count, unable to rise to his feet as the title changed hands. 

Crolla delivered a career-best performance, even surpassing the effort he put forth in an emotionally-charged ring return in July. It was doubtful if he'd ever fight again after suffering a severe head injury stemming from his efforts to break up an attempted burglary earlier this year. 

The sentiment was felt throughout his first fight with Perez, but failed to make its way to the judges in settling for a majority draw. This time around, he ended the fight on his terms, collecting his first major title in the process.

"I've dreamt this dream since 10 years of age," noted Crolla, who improves - in every sense of the word - to 30-4-3 (12KOs). I didn't know it was this good - it's even better."

It's the exact opposite feeling for Perez, who goes 0-1-1 on his two-fight trek to England. Now an ex-champ, the 32-year old falls to 32-2-1 (20KOs). His title-winning effort over Argenis Lopez last June was the highlight of a five-fight unbeaten streak following a narrow points loss to Yuriorkis Gamboa in June '13. 

The title fight rematch aired live on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom and A Wealth of Entertainment (AWE) in the United States. 

Jake Donovan is the managing editor of Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by The Conundrum on 11-22-2015

[QUOTE=285Kid;16251052]Well Derry Mathews is fighting on the Lee/Saunders undercard , A win by him he could be next[/QUOTE] Derry Mathews is challenging Terry Flanagan for the WBO title in early 2016

Comment by The Conundrum on 11-22-2015

[QUOTE=NEETzsche;16251008]anyone reckon hearn will line up kevin mitchell for his first defence? maybe ricky burns great generation of british lightweights[/QUOTE] Mitchell is fighting for the WBA interim title on December 12, and the winner of Mitchell vs Barroso must face…

Comment by Box-Office on 11-22-2015

[QUOTE=JayCho;16254033]Someone is a bit jealous of british lightweights because Ricky Burns is a shot fighter.....[/QUOTE] Pretty sure Scotland voted to remain part of the Union. It is a travesty a guy like Mitchell getting a 4th shot, yet Burns hasn't…

Comment by JayCho on 11-22-2015

[QUOTE=Box-Office;16252035]All Gallagher guys are basic, they come in shape (minus Paul Smith) and make the best of their limited tools. They're all quite average.[/QUOTE] But joe gallaghers gym has two world champs and a belt holder So yes, average lol

Comment by JayCho on 11-22-2015

[QUOTE=Corelone;16251504]You're reaching, but not by much. I like Flanagan out of the bunch, Burns is better at 140, Crolla has one big win. Still a nice lineup.[/QUOTE] Wouldnt say one big win, he stopped john murray in more impressive fashion…

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