Updated: Thursday, 21st August 2014 @ 6:17pm

Anthony ‘million dolla’ Crolla hopes to win upcoming derby clash against John Murray for red side of Manchester

Anthony ‘million dolla’ Crolla hopes to win upcoming derby clash against John Murray for red side of Manchester

| By Tim Hyde

Boxing fans are licking their lips as they look ahead to a huge fight-night where an explosive Manchester derby will take centre stage.

Manchester United fan Anthony ‘million dolla’ Crolla hopes to maintain an un-beaten record in his home city as he clashes against former sparring partner and Manchester City fan, John Murray.

The pair will collide at Phones 4u Arena on April 19, with the winner possible a big money fight with Ricky Burns in another British match-up.

Crolla (26W, 4L, 1D) has left the ring victorious in all four of his Manchester fights, starting the win-streak by stopping former World champion Michael Brodie in 2009 before winning his first title, the English Super Featherweight belt, against Andy Morris a year later.

“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 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.”

Crolla has had no trouble motivating himself for the all-Manchester and is delighted to be back fighting in his home city.

The 27-year-old said: “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.”

Crolla, the current holder of the WBO inter-continental lightweight title, expects Murray to give him one of the toughest bouts of his career, as his former sparring partner knows his game inside and out.

“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.”

Both fighters are aware that more than pride is at stake, as a victory will put them into contention for a fight with lightweight superstar Ricky Burns.  

“A fight with Ricky is still a big fight even though he's no longer a World champion,” added Crolla.

“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.”

Image courtesy of iFL TV, via YouTube, with thanks.