By: Ste Rowen
Stepping into the ring for the final time as a professional boxer, Manchester’s current favourite boxing son, and former world champion, Anthony Crolla, bowed out of the sport at the same venue he began and the one he won the lightweight world championship in. At the Manchester Arena, ‘Million Dollar’ Crolla took on the inexperienced, Frank Urquiaga, scoring an unjustly wide majority decision over ten rounds.
After an uneventful opening round, the Spaniard seemed to want to out of there as soon as possible as he complained of rabbit punches and then in a strange moment at the end of the second when in a clinch, appeared to throw himself down, much to the annoyance of the crowd. In the third, after throwing some decent body shots, Urquiaga, 13-1-1 (1KO) also landed a left hook below the belt that brought another scrappy round to an end.
But it seemed to bring the fire out of the Spaniard after a slow start as the fight headed past the halfway mark of a scheduled ten-rounds, Crolla stalked and tried to remain on top of his opponent, but Frank was looking more efficient and keeping the Mancunian’s best work at bay. Neither man looked like a legitimate contender but having seen the best version of Crolla, it’s easy to see why this was his final night in the ring. His shots liked the venom and effect they used to, especially considering the standard of opponent picked for his last ever bout.
Photo Credit: Matchroom Boxing Twitter Account
A lack of movement, that has rarely been Anthony’s strong point, was seriously harming his chances of a winning end as the final round began. And more of the same occurred as Urquiaga attempted to pin the Englishman to the ropes. Crolla was struggling to fire off more than single shots now as the clock ticked down on the end of his 45-fight pro career, and then the final bell struck. The two men went the distance and waited for the judge’s scorecards; 95-95, 98-92, 97-93 all for the home-fighter. Last fight or not, those were some truly dreadful scorecards.
‘‘I definitely thought I’d done enough (tonight) but time’s up now. I’ve had a great career, loved every minute of it but it’s time to go now…I enjoyed the fight, but I knew that’s it now. It’s great to go out with a win and there’s no better place to do it than Manchester.
My proudest achievement is this crowd, this support.’’
Crolla, 35-7-3 (13KOs) doesn’t finish his career with a hall of fame worthy resume but he does leave behind a legacy and a lesson in boxing comebacks. His story has been told and retold many times, but any man who can survive a concrete slab to the head and still go on to win a world title and then face likely future hall of famers Jorge Linares (twice) and Vasyl Lomachenko, is good enough to use as inspiration for any sportsman or woman who faces adversity.
Fighting for the first time up at super-lightweight, former undisputed lightweight world champion, Katie Taylor became a two-weight champion with a unanimous decision over the now former WBO super-lightweight champion, Christine Linardatou.
It was an edgy opening through the first few rounds including a moment in the 3rd where it appeared Taylor had knocked down Linardatou, but it was ruled a slip. The Greek national, 12-1 (6KOs) recovered well to put Taylor on the back foot in the immediate round though, without establishing anything solid to really put the fear into her Irish challenger. Christine continued to set the pace as the fight drew into round eight of ten, with Taylor only sparingly throwing counter-shots.
Taylor continued her stick and move tactics for the final two rounds. Linardatou’s aggressiveness was struggling to pay off now and though her energy wasn’t wavering; her accuracy was right until the final bell. The final scorecards came back as, 96-94, 97-93 (x2) all for the new WBO world 140lb and two-weight champion, Katie Taylor.
Now 15-0 (6KOs), Taylor spoke post-fight,
‘‘Making history, breaking boundaries and the best is yet to come.
We knew it was gonna be a tough ten rounds, but I boxed smart for a change instead of getting stuck in a fight…I can’t wait for the rematch with Delfine Persoon and the fight with Amanda Serrano.’’
Felix Cash and Jack Cullen fought out an entertaining brawl that ended with Cash taking a stoppage victory inside eight rounds. Cash, now 12-0 (8KOs) was defending his middleweight Commonwealth belt for the first time and he dropped Cullen once in the 1st and again towards the end of the 7th. However the finisher came in the following round as Felix consistently, sloppily, but those that landed were heavy enough to stop Cullen firing back and force the referee to step in and end the bout.