Anthony Crolla insists third bout needed to separate Moston fighter and nemesis Derry Matthews after draw

By Ed Owen

Anthony ‘Million Dollar’ Crolla announced his hopes for a third war against former conqueror Derry Matthews after the pair drew a thrilling contest at Liverpool’s Echo Arena last night.

In a pulsating fight, the 26-year-old appeared to let the bout – for the Commonwealth lightweight belt – slip away before salvaging a draw.

After the fight Crolla was full of praise for his opponent and the arena’s fans – who gave both men a standing ovation – before announcing his hopes for Matthews-Crolla III.

“It was a great fight and the fans at the Echo Arena loved it – they’re a great crowd to box in front of,” said Crolla, talking to Sky Sports after the fight.

“Me and Derry both thought we had done enough to win it, so the best way to find out is to do it all again.”

The opening round proved extremely cagey – Mathews threw the most shots, but found them rebounding off the arms of the English champion.

With Crolla content to fight off the back foot for the second the Liverpudlian waded in, firing off a vicious left which opened a cut around his opponent’s right eye.

The third round showed signs of the thrilling contest this would become as both boxers traded blows in a skirmish Mathews got the better of.

But Crolla began to fight back in the fourth, moving onto the front foot and peppering his former conqueror with a selection of well-timed blows.

However, Mathews began to impose himself on proceedings from the fifth onward, consistently picking off shots to further damage the Mancunian’s cut.

Fighting in an awkward style, the Liverpudlian racked up the points in rounds five to seven, throwing shots his opponent seemed to have no answer to.

But the New Moston man came back in the eighth to salvage the fight, utilising his jab to devastating effect and damaging Mathews’ nose.

Yet Mathews was far from a spent force and managed to land a thunderous right hand on the younger man in the ninth, drawing a smile from Crolla.

But come the penultimate round ‘Million Dollar’ looked every bit his glamorous nickname, dominating the receding Matthews with vicious blows and knocking his head back.

The final three minutes saw the older fighter clearly affected by the fight’s pace, hurling easily detectable blows which Crolla avoided before dropping bombs on his now-fading opponent.

As the final bell sounded it was obvious to both the judges and the 8,000-strong crowd that it was a close fight.

And with two judges giving the fight to either man 115-113 the deciding Steve Gray announced the bout as a 115-115 draw, setting up a third war between the two men.

When asked about his tactics after the fight, Crolla was in an upbeat mood, thinking he had learned valuable lessons from his latest test.

“It was very different to the first fight – the plan was to box, but sooner or later with a lad like me, you get involved in a war.

“If I’m honest, Derry hurt me last fight and he hurt me tonight, but I feel like I’ve pulled through it.

“I thought I’d done enough to win it, but I’m sure so did Derry, so as I said before, let’s do it again.”

The future looks bright for Crolla after last night’s display – having re-established himself as a major crowd-puller, he can look forward to bigger tests after the third Matthews fight.

Image courtesy of Matchroom Boxing, via YouTube, with thanks.

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