Anthony Crolla (31-4-3, 13 KOs) sent shock waves through the Lightweight division by stopping the dangerous mandatory challenger Ismael Barroso (19-1-2, 18 KOs) in emphatic style in the seventh round, retaining his WBA crown in the process.
The fight began with an early onslaught from Barroso, but both fighters began to become marked up. Crolla lacked head movement in the early stages, and looked to be getting hurt by a number of Barroso’s shots. The Mancunian continued to take punishment in rounds three and four, but began landing some meaningful shots of his own. The fifth round looked to be the turning point in the fight, with Barroso seeming to severely tire through out the round.
Round six was the turning point. Barroso looked out on his feet and Crolla landed some extremely hurtful shots. At one point it looked as if the fight was going to be stopped, referee Howard Foster judging it not to be a knock down but rather a slip. Barroso survived the round and was saved by the bell. Into the seventh we went…
Down went Barroso under an onslaught from ‘Million Dollar Crolla’, and he couldn’t get up to beat the count. The devastating performance from Anthony Crolla meant that he had retained his WBA Lightweight world title, in the process staked his claim as the best Lightweight on the planet. In the end Barroso had punched himself out, and the sheer volume of Crolla’s punches overwhelmed him. The fight was finished in spectacular fashion, and Manchester still had two Lightweight world champions.
Joe Gallagher must receive high credit from the boxing fraternity after the fight, as Crolla won due to the perfect execution of the perfect game plan. Although he looked to be taking punishment during the fight, the reasons for it are now clear and it was exactly the right thing to do. Joe Gallagher, take a bow.
Ben Sheedy (2-0, 1 KOs) was given the opportunity to provide chief support to Anthony Crolla in only his second professional contest, facing Sonny Whiting (2-7, 1 KO) at Super Middleweight. Sheedy came out firing and recorded a stoppage victory after 2 minutes 50 seconds of round two, looking very impressive in the process.
Sean Ben Mulligan (5-0, 1 KO) got the chance to shine on the big stage as well (as Sky Sports moved their coverage to Pulev-Chisora in Germany) fighting Kevin McCauley (11-118-8, 0 KOs). Mulligan impressed in the fight, landing some hurtful shots on the veteran journeyman, eventually running out the winner on the scorecards 40-36.
Tommy Coyle (22-3, 10 KOs) returned for the first time since his loss to Luke Campbell in August to face Reynaldo Mora (7-13-1, 4 KOs) over six rounds at Lightweight. Coyle seemed to be on top in the opening two rounds, but was deducted a point in the second session for punching after the referee shouted ‘break’. Coyle looked in control through out the rest of the fight though, recording a comfortable 59-55 victory.
The WBC International Silver crown was on the line as Shayne Singleton (23-1, 8 KOs) and Adil Anwar (22-6, 1 KOs) faced off at Welterweight. Singleton landed a counter right and then left in the first round, putting Anwar on the canvas. Despite this, Anwar recovered remarkably well after the knock down and came out stronger in the second. Both men had good spells through out the fight until Singleton scored another knock down in the eighth round. Although Anwar beat the count, his legs were still wobbling and the contest was holted after 1 minute 30 seconds of round eight.
Martin Murray (33-3-1, 16 KOs) returned to the ring for the first time since his points defeat to Arthur Abraham to face Cedric Spera (12-5, 2 KOs) at Super Middleweight. The fight came alive in the second round, with Murray scoring two knockdowns on his way to a stoppage victory. The first knock down came from a left hook to the body, and the second from a straight right to the head after 1 minute 47 seconds of the round. Murray now moves on to face George Groves in a WBA world title final eliminator on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s IBF world title defence.
In the first televised fight of the night, Marcus Morrison (11-0, 8 KOs) faced Jefferson Luiz De Sousa (16-2-2, 10 KOs) for the WBC International Silver Middleweight title. After landing a solid knock down in the first round, Morrison then went on to land a devastating left hook to the body in the second session after 60 seconds, leaving De Sousa crippled on the floor and unable to beat the count.
The Light Heavyweight British champion Hosea Burton (16-0, 7 KOs) defeated Michal Ludwiczah (13-4, 5 KOs) via a fourth round stoppage. Burton’s success means he will now defend his Lord Lonsdale belt against Tony Dodson on the ‘Real Life Rocky Story’ card in Liverpool on May 29th.
The fourth fight of the night saw Cruiserweight Warren Baister (4-0, 3 KOs) produce a devastating performance against Stanislav Eschner (1-1, 1 KO), winning after two minutes 19 seconds of round one.
Callum Johnson (14-0, 10 KOs) returned in emphatic style, scoring three knockdowns over Richard Horton (10-9, 1 KO) after 1 minute 18 seconds in the first round of their Light Heavyweight contest.
The second fight of the night pitted Jono Carroll (10-0, 1 KO) against Jordan Ellinson (5-4, 1 KO), with Carroll coming out on top 60-55 after six rounds of boxing.
Paul Smith (36-6, 21 KOs) returned to the ring in the first fight of the night, and looked to move on from his previous three consecutive losses to Arthur Abraham on two occasions and most recently Andre Ward. ‘Real Gone Kid’ recorded a stoppage victory over Daniel Regi (28-14, 15 KOs) after 45 seconds of the third round, scoring three knock downs in the process.
By Luke Madeira, follow Luke on Twitter @lukemadeira15