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IN the chief supporting bout on the Oleksandr Usyk-Tony Bellew bill this Saturday (November 10) at Manchester Arena, local hero Anthony Crolla returns to the site of his greatest triumph.
Three years ago, Crolla thrilled his home fans by knocking out Darleys Perez in five rounds to become the WBA lightweight champion – an event promoter Eddie Hearn describes as “one of the most special nights [he’s] ever been involved in.”
This weekend, the former world titlist takes on aggressive and heavy-handed Indonesian Daud Yordan, in a 12-rounder that serves as a final eliminator for Crolla’s old WBA belt, which is currently held by Vasyl Lomachenko – arguably the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world .
Ex-WBA featherweight title challenger Yordan is predicting “a great war” between himself and Crolla, with many of the approximately 265 million inhabitants of his home nation set to tune into the action.
Having lost two of his last four contests – albeit with both losses coming against the brilliant Jorge Linares – and coming up against a man who has been victorious in eight successive outings, Crolla believes that he will have to be on peak form to overcome a man who he refers to as “a class act both inside and outside the ring.”
“This is a fight that puts the fear into me and gives me that extra edge,” Crolla said. “Some people think I’m on the slide, but this is the kind of fight that will bring the best out in me. I’ll need my best to beat Daud. Stylistically, this should be a great fight.”
Further down the card in Manchester, there is an appearance for a fighter who lost to Crolla on points just over a year ago – Scotland’s former three-weight world champ Ricky Burns.
The Coatbridge warrior was initially scheduled to feature on a show in America this month, but instead was drafted in at late notice to oppose Lytham St Annes’ Scott Cardle, whose original opponent, Joe Cordina, was ruled out through injury. Burns meets the ex-British lightweight boss over 10 rounds.
“I jumped at this chance to box on a big bill, as I was in full camp anyway [for the proposed US run-out]” Burns stated. “I don’t feel any pressure [as the favourite]. I treat every fight the same and train for every fight the same.”