By Phil Barnett, Press Association Sport @barnettoPA
World title contender Anthony Crolla hopes to return to the ring as early as May, less than six months after burglars fractured his skull and broke his ankle.
The Mancunian lightweight admits he is lucky to even be alive after he was brutally attacked with a concrete slab when trying to apprehend thieves who had attempted to rob his neighbour’s house.
However, Crolla – who obviously had to postpone next week’s world title shot against WBA champion Richar Abril – is certain he will box again and hopes to return even sooner than his original target of the summer.
“I’m 100% certain I’ll be back,” he told Press Association Sport.
“I can get a bit carried away and start thinking ‘well I can be getting around a bit in a few weeks, it won’t take long to get fit, I can get back sparring’.
“But the sparring is the thing I need to be careful with and wait. I’ll probably need brain scans even before I return to sparring.
“At first we were aiming for July, then we cut it back to June. I honestly think I can be ready for May, late May. We’ll see. I really believe that.
“Because I’ve gone through this and suffered this bit of heartache, I’ll be even more focused than before.”
Former British champion Crolla, 28, is back on his feet this week after having the cast on his ankle removed.
“The most serious injury is obviously the fracture to the skull but that’s not giving me any trouble,” he said.
“I’m not suffering any headaches or anything. The British Boxing Board of Control have been in touch with me and there are certain medical requirements which are very strict, for the safety of our sport, which I’ll have to pass.
“I’ll have the brain scans before I get the all-clear. I had scans when it happened and there was no bleeding on the brain. There won’t be a problem with them, it’s just better to be safe than sorry.
“The ankle was broken in two places but is healing brilliantly. I’ve got one of the top experts in the country working on it and he thinks it will get back to 100%.
“I’ve already had the cast off and I’m walking on it. In the last few days I’ve had to stop myself because I’m almost feeling like I’m ready to start shadow-boxing and I’m having to hold myself back, which is hard.
“There are certain little exercises I can do and I’m so much happier now, because there’s only so much sitting around on the couch eating selection boxes you can do before you want to get back in the gym.”