Anthony Crolla and Ricky Burns in a Manchester Mash-Up

My first reaction when hearing about the matchup between Ricky Burns and Anthony Crolla brought a smile to my face as I nodded in approval. The fight just made so much sense for both men at this stage of their careers and of course the venue selection was perfect. A world championship belt isn’t on the line but it doesn’t matter and that’s the beauty of it all. What matters is the next step for these guys and what better motivation then money and pride.

The crossroads scenario usually produces two outcomes. Both fighters tend to react naturally in a defensive manner. Not literally defense as far as style, but a trapped in the corner, last chance type of feeling. Desperation allows a fighter to do the unthinkable or at least forces them to rise up a level.

The downside of a crossroads matchup is one fighter being too long in the tooth and horribly past their prime. Unfortunately we’ve see it at the end of the vast majority of boxing careers and its ugly. Punching power can play a part in a one-sided beating but neither man is known for their power.

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In the last year Anthony Crolla got beat handily by Jorge Linares in back to back bouts. This past spring Ricky Burns was white-washed by Julius Indongo. One could make a case that Burns has taken more punishment, currently on his second or third boxing life (comeback) as a mid-to-top level operator. A few times in the past say 4-5 years Burns looked ready to hang them up. But somehow Ricky finds a way to bounce back to gain relevance once again. Sure Eddie Hearn’s matchmaking has helped but Burns has earned most of it including this possible last hurrah.

It was ass-backwards for Anthony ‘Million Dollar’ Crolla as he worked his way up the ladder to success. It started out as a journeyman career and has now blossomed nicely in the last couple of years. Taking early losses and draws was the way Crolla learned his craft. Now he’s faced with a challenge of keeping a hold of his high-profile status in Manchester.

This fight should give us boxing fans a good competitive scrap once these two getting their engines hot. Look for Burns to box on the outside especially in the opening frames. Burns would be served well to keep an active jab with steady lateral movement. It wouldn’t be wise to stand in front of Crolla until Burns has at least measured him up. It also wouldn’t make sense for Burns to get out of character and move too much for fear of gassing.

For Crolla it will be full steam ahead as he attempts to breakdown the older man. That said Anthony needs to pace himself and use a jab and/or upper body movement instead of being completely reckless. Hooks to the body and then the head along with short upper cuts should do the trick offensively for Crolla. Anthony will obviously be the aggressor but can’t get carried away going for a stoppage. Ricky has sustained serious injuries in the ring but has never been stopped in almost 50 fights.

Expect a back and forth battle that features good to very good action with some exchanges. I would give most of the early rounds to Burns based off Crolla‘s lack of defense and taking the long game approach. Crolla will walk into shots throughout the fight that’s pretty much a given. He should be able to withstand Burn’s attack as long as he still has enough in the tank. If so, look for Crolla to dig heavily to the body and slowly but surely walk Burns down. The tide will turn for Crolla mid-to-late rounds and once it does he will pour it on. Although I see this close to a pick’em I lean Crolla for two main reasons. Crolla is the fresher man overall and Burns moving back down to lightweight nearing the end of his career could be troublesome.

My Official Prediction is Anthony Crolla by Majority Decision.

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Written by Chris Carlson Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available on Apple Podcast (ITunes), Player.FM, Stitcher, Tunein, & More! Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio