Crolla vs. Burns: Fighting for Redemption

In the sport of boxing, the only thing harder than winning a world title is keeping it. Anthony Crolla and Ricky Burns each learned that lesson over the past year, and now both Brits prepare to face one another, each at a similar crossroads of their career.

In September of last year, Crolla (31-6-3) lost his WBA lightweight title to Jorge Linares, and he suffered an even more convincing unanimous decision defeat to the Venezuelan in March of this year. Burns (41-6-1) lost his light-welterweight title to Julius Indongo back in April, and is moving down to 135 lbs. to take on Crolla this weekend.

Given the fact that both fighters are coming off of title losses, most fans would expect them to take easy fights to get back on the winning track. But that’s not the way Anthony Crolla and Ricky Burns operate. They each want the biggest stage and toughest test possible, and they know that a victory gets them one step closer to regaining their championship status.

“A win propels me right to where I was,” Crolla said. “I’ve been around long enough to know that these are the fights people want to see. I want to be involved in big fights.”

Crolla will get that big fight, and he’ll get to perform in front of his home crowd in Manchester for the sixth consecutive fight. Burns, a Scotland native, also looks forward to the high-stakes matchup and he knows many of his countrymen will follow him to Manchester.

“I enjoy the big fights,” Burns said. “This is my first time fighting in Manchester. It’s the same back home in Scotland, I’ve got a lot of support back there…Me and Anthony are going to go out and both of us are gonna give it our all, people know that.”

Though each man is motivated by the bright lights they’ll be under, they each recognize that this matchup brings a certain level of risk. Losing consecutive fights can derail a boxer’s career, and a loss in this contest may mean that one of the two men won’t get the opportunity to win a world title again.

Crolla laughs off the notion that he’ll feel pressure heading into the ring, however. In fact, he sees the high stakes as a positive.

“It doesn’t add pressure, it adds motivation because of what’s at stake,” he said. “We both know exactly what’s at stake. We both trained harder than ever. We want to both be involved in these big nights and big fights and that’s what this Saturday is. We both could have had easy ones, but we chose to take this.”

Burns, 34 years old to Crolla’s 30, knows his back is against the wall as the older fighter and the underdog. But he knows that with high risk comes high reward, and if he can upset Crolla then he will be right back in the title picture.

“There’s talk of the winner possibly fighting for another world title,” Burns said. “And although people talk about this being the end for the loser, I don’t see that being the case.”

Whether or not this bout sends one man back into a title fight and the other into obscurity remains to be seen. But both fighters will enter the ring not far removed from tasting defeat, and each man is prepared to stop at nothing to avoid tasting it again.

Anthony Crolla and Ricky Burns face off in a lightweight main event at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England on Saturday, October 7th.

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