In The Battle of Manchester, Anthony Crolla eventually proved to be too much for lightweight rival John Murray. The two men gave their all in a terrific fight that met, even surpassed expectations, but in the end the younger, fresher man pulled out the victory. Dropping Murray with a left hand that landed behind the ear, Crolla then finished his man with a brutal follow-up barrage that prompted the ref to dive in. The time was two-minutes and 20-seconds of the 10th. Murray, who finished the war with a badly swollen and bloodied right eye, is now 33-3(20). Crolla, the younger many by two years at age 27, improved to 28-4-1(11).
From the outset Murray came out hard and fast as expected and Crolla had to dig deep so as not to be overwhelmed. The pace was a hot one straight away and Murray’s vicious and relentless body work was proving effective. Crolla countered well, though, and he landed the cleaner work upstairs. Crolla did look like he was perhaps tiring by the 4th and 5th-round but Murray’s right eye was swelling noticeably.
By the 6th it was Murray who was visibly tiring, although he drove himself on to go toe-to-toe with his friend turned rival (now friend again) to produce a terrific two-way action round in the 7th. After that session Crolla, still sprightly and beginning to push Murray backwards instead of being bullied himself as he had been earlier, took over. Landing some sharp inside uppercuts to the head, “Million Dollar” was landing too much clean and hurtful work for Murray to be able to cope with.
Still, there was absolutely no quit in Murray and he sure went down fighting. Dead tired in the 10th, Murray went down from the left to the head that landed as he was forcing himself forwards, and the ending that came after he beat the count was inevitable.
Both men had nothing but respect for one another after the dust had settled and the future for both gladiators will prove interesting. Crolla looks world class and a title shot may be in the offing, while Murray must make a tough, tough decision. It could be a long and hard road back for “The Murray Machine.”
For now though, both men can hold their up high, safe in the knowledge that they each played their part in giving us fans a domestic Fight of The Year candidate.