Anthony Crolla says he will keep up is 100 per cent record in Manchester derbies when he clashes with John Murray at the Phones 4u Arena in Manchester on April 19, live on Sky Sports.
Crolla has boxed in four all-Manchester fights in his career to date, and come out on top in them all. Crolla began his run by stopping former World champion Michael Brodie in 2009 in Brodie’s last pro fight and then won his first title against Andy Morris with a seventh round stoppage in 2010 to claim the English Super Featherweight title.
‘Million Dollar’ came out on top of a cracking battle with Kieran Farrell for the English Lightweight crown in 2012 and in his last outing, he took six rounds to force the retirement of Stephen Foster Jr at the Phones 4u Arena in November to defend the WBO Inter-Continental title he puts on the line against Murray – who Crolla says will be the hardest Lancashire dust-up of them all, especially with the two men knowing each other inside and out.
“I’ve been in four Manchester derbies and won all four, but this is different because that are lots of factors involved,” said Crolla. “John and I are good mates, we used to train together under Joe Gallagher and we support United and City. There is no problem between John and I, we will go out for a drink after the fight, but once that bell goes there won’t be any friendship.
“We are focused on doing a job on each other. I have been in John’s corner before and he has been in mine. We have seen each other close-hand and have fought many rounds together. There is only so much you can take from sparring, but we both believe we have seen strengths and weaknesses in each other. We both have the same friends so there might be a few neutrals in there on the night, but I hope to have the red side of Manchester in my corner.
“If you can’t get up for a fight like this then I am in the wrong sport. It’s a Manchester derby, I’ve been in them before and come out on top, this is the biggest one of the lot though but I am very confident of another derby night win.
“This was always the fight I wanted and the demand there was for it showed how big a fight it is. I’m made up that it’s happening, it’s great for the city too.”
While neither fighter will look beyond the huge night in Manchester, both men are aware that there’s more than just local pride at stake. The victor will edge closer to another huge fight, and a potential all-Brit clash with Ricky Burns certainly whets the appetite for Crolla.
“A fight with Ricky is still a big fight even though he’s no longer a World champion. Ricky is a great fighter and I am sure he’ll be looking at another World title shot very soon as he’s earned that privilege with his reign as a two-weight World champion, so getting to fight him would still be huge.”
Crolla’s clash with Murray is part of a huge night of boxing in Manchester, topped by Scott Quigg’s second defence of his WBA World Super Bantamweight title.
Josh Warrington defends his Commonwealth Featherweight title against former World title challenger Rendall Munroe, Tyrone Nurse meets Tyler Goodjohn for the vacant English Light Welterweight title and Olympic Gold medal hero Luke Campbell MBE is his sixth pro contest.
Red hot prospect Callum Smith returns to the ring following injury, Hosea Burton is hunting a first title fight and there’s action for Martin J. Ward, Stephen Foster Jr, Jack Massey, Liam Hanrahan and Sam Hyde.
Tickets are on sale priced £30, £40, £60 and £100 via phones4uarena.co.uk or by calling 0844 847 8000. £150 VIP packages are SOLD OUT.