By Keith Idec
Eddie Hearn thinks the judges got it right, that Anthony Crolla deserved his victory over Ricky Burns.
That said, the British promoter considers Burns’ performance proof that the 34-year-old former three-division champion can still compete at boxing’s elite level. Scotland’s Burns boxed well, but lost a 12-round unanimous decision to Crolla in Burns’ return to the lightweight division Saturday night in Manchester, England, Crolla’s hometown.
“I have to say, and I said it to Ricky, I think that was Ricky Burns’ best performance for probably three or four, five, six, seven, eight fights,” Hearn told iFL TV during a post-fight interview. “And I’m so pleased that, although he lost, he showed that he’s got plenty left in the tank. They want a rematch in Scotland and Anthony will look at his options. But the key was Anthony has come back off two defeats. That’s a big win for his career tonight. The good thing about Ricky Burns is, although he lost, he showed, in my opinion, that he’s still got plenty left in the sport.”
Burns (41-7-1, 14 KOs) lost a lopsided 12-round decision to Namibia’s Julius Indongo in his prior fight. The previously unbeaten Indongo (22-1, 11 KOs) defended his IBF and IBO titles and won the WBA title from Burns in their 140-pound championship unification fight April 15 in Glasgow.
Burns was much more effective against Crolla (32-6-3, 13 KOs), who had dropped back-to-back, 12-round unanimous decisions to WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares (43-3, 27 KOs) before beating Burns. Judges Michael Alexander (116-114), Steve Gray (117-112) and Victor Loughlin (116-113) all scored the fight for Crolla.
“I had Crolla taking the fight by a couple of rounds,” said Hearn, whose company, Matchroom Boxing, promotes Burns and Crolla. “Again, [that’s] giving Burns the last round, because I felt he finished really, really strong. If he would’ve done that from the 10th or 11th, I might’ve had an excuse for a draw. You’re also – Ricky was up against it in the away town. You’ve got the noise, you’ve got everything. But I think, generally, Crolla had the better work rate and like I said, Burns had clean shots. A very close fight.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.