The saga began with Crolla being due to face then-champ Richar Abril for the belt but fate intervened before Christmas when the Manchester prizefighter was hit over the head with a concrete slab confronting burglars at a neighbour’s home.
A fractured skull and a broken ankle, sustained during the assault has kept him out of action until now.
Liverpool’s Derry Mathews answered the call of duty to take the fight in Crolla’s place, yet after two pull-outs from Abril, ended up beating Tony Luis last month for the interim version of the title.
In the wake of that fight, Perez was upgraded to regular champion and will make his first defence in this fight against Crolla.
Derry Mathews will for all intents and purposes be mandatory to the winner so there is a slim chance a 3rd fight between Crolla and him will happen.
Provided Crolla comes through this test that is – and he is up against it in my eyes.
Perez is from very good amateur pedigree and his only loss is to Cuban standout Yuriorkis Gamboa in 2013 – a points loss where the slick style and lightning speed of the Olympic gold medalist were telling.
Crolla, with all due respect, is no Gamboa. He fights completely differently and is going to be the underdog in this one – by some measure I’d say.
Perez is strong, got good power and a decent skill-set. From what I’ve seen of him, even in the loss to Gamboa, he is a level above.
For me Anthony Crolla’s career best win was against former team mate John Murray – a similar come forward bullying fighter to Perez but far more rudimentary.
Yes he found a way to win, but was under pressure a lot in that one and despite out boxing John in the end to stop him in the 10th, Perez is not so crude and limited as to make the same mistakes as Murray did in that one and leave himself wide open to counters on the ropes.
I’m worried for Crolla in this one, for sure.
After the fight was announced at lunchtime, he said;
“It’s amazing to be back in the ring fighting for my first world title. Lying in my hospital bed after the attack, I didn’t know what the future would hold.”
“I was just lucky to be alive but I’ve worked so hard and had so much support that I just have to win that title.”
Perez himself, confident of victory said;
“Anthony Crolla is a tough boxer but I know I have what it takes to beat him in style. My plan is to travel to England and gain new fans with a devastating victory over their hometown favourite.”
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