Anthony Crolla has revealed that had it not been for an impeccable poker face in his 2010 English super-featherweight title clash with Andy Morris in Bolton, his career might have panned out differently.
Ahead of the October bout 12 years ago, the two men, who were at the time represented by Hatton Promotions, were told the winner would be signed and kept on, whilst the loser would be let go to forge his own path.
“It was probably harsh really, because it was a great fight and people say it should have been for more than the English title,” Crolla told the Lightweight Boxing Show while in conversation with his foe-turned-friend at the stables where Morris keeps his horses.
“You know, the hungrier fighter won,” Morris responded. “And that's what happened. It's a lesson learnt isn't it? You know, for more fighters. It's got to be done.”
Crolla at the time was 23-years-old, held an 18- 2 record and was tipped for the world stage. Morris meanwhile was entering his prime years with 19 wins from 21 outings, having made a name for himself as a teenager winning bronze at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester - a stone’s throw away from his amateur boxing gym, Brooklands Trade & Labour Club in Wythenshawe.
“Did you know that night if it didn’t go your way, it’d probably be it?” Crolla asked Morris about their showdown.
“Definitely,” Andy replied, “You know they’re quite vicious aren’t they, the management? Basically we got told it was either you or me. Obviously I gave everything that night, but it was your night.”
But things could have been very different for the two Mancunians had Crolla not had the burden of being let go resting on his shoulders, along with some expletive words of wisdom from long-time trainer Joe Gallagher.
“Joe was Joe in the corner and he C-bombs, saying ‘you won't get another chance if you lose this’ and that it was sink or swim I think a bit.”
“I've been flattened in my career once [by Vasily Lomachenko], but I've never been hurt as bad as I was that night.
“You'd hurt me to the body. And thankfully, my poker face must have been good, because I thought if you hit me again, I'm going to go over. Honestly, I was literally crippled in there. And that's one of the proudest moments, like my mates will all tell you. I've never been hurt like that. You'd hit me to the body, you caught me right in the solar plexus.
“And I remember just thinking, just hide it. But like you said, there was so much riding on it.”
Anthony Crolla won that battle by TKO in the seventh, but the fight was very much going the way of Morris on the judges' scorecards.
“One of the judges didn’t have me winning a round with you!” Crolla revealed, making the stoppage even more important in helping propel Million Dollar to one day become the WBA lightweight champion.
You can catch Crolla’s chat with Morris on the Lightweight Boxing Show, as well as the full uncut version on the YouTube channel.
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