ANTHONY CROLLA: THE MILLION DOLLAR MIRACLE

“Oh Anthony Crolla” rings out around Manchester Arena as Crolla jumps onto the ropes, screaming “MANCHESTER!” at the top of his lungs. It hasn’t been easy, but he has reached the top of the mountain, the pinnacle. He is the World Champion.


Anthony Crolla was born in Manchester in 1986, and bleeds Manchester United. Anthony's father, Wayne, was a professional boxer himself, holding a record of (16-12 KO 3).


Crolla enjoyed success in his amateur career. In 2004, he picked up a silver medal in the Chemnitz City Cup in Germany losing in the final to Marcel Herfurth. A year on from his silver medal performance and Crolla went one better claiming the gold after defeating Marco Lebeda.


In 2006 Crolla claimed the big one on the British amateur scene as he claimed the ABA national championship, overcoming Chris Pacy in the final. Crolla then repeated his feat from the year previous and managed to grab the gold medal in Chemnitz, before setting his eyes on turning pro.


Anthony signed a professional contract with Frank Warren’s Queensbury promotions in 2006 and made his debut on the undercard of Joe Calzaghe’s world title defense against Sakio Bika. In front of a home crowd at the MEN Arena, Crolla was given the 40-36 verdict over Abdul Rashid (1-0 KO 0).


After racking up eight wins in his opening eight-fight, Crolla was matched against Youssef Al Hamidi (3-8-1 KO 1). In a huge shock, Al Hamidi scored the victory by a single point. Crolla rebounded from the loss with a win over Robin Deakin (1-10 KO 1) on points. Million Dollar then avenged his only career loss to Al Hamidi (4-10-1 KO 1) beating him on points.

After racking up some more wins Crolla was matched against Gary Sykes (11-0 KO 4) in a British Super Featherweight title eliminator. Sykes was an up and coming prospect and entered as the favorite for the fight. Sykes was awarded the decision by referee Richard James Davies by a score of 97-94 over the ten-round distance. After rebounding with a points victory at the Velodrome in Manchester, Crolla got handed a tough task against former IBO World Champion and fellow Mancunian Michael Brodie (36-3-1 KO 24). Brodie was on the comeback trail after taking three years away from the sport, but Crolla stunned the crowd at Robin Park Centre in Wigan by stopping Brodie in the third round of a scheduled ten.


Crolla landed overhand rights at will in the third round and Brodie was on shaky legs, he was then put down with a stunning combination that ended with an overhand right. The former champion beat the count at nine, but referee Steve Gray waved the contest off, handing Million Dollar the biggest win of his career to date.


After ending the comeback of Michael Brodie, Crolla set his sights on the English Super-Featherweight crown. After three more wins Crolla was given his shot at the vacant belt against Andy Morris (19-3 KO 7). Crolla came through with a seventh-round stoppage of Morris to claim the vacant English Super Featherweight title. Crolla got his first main event slot in his very next fight as he moved up in weight to fight for the vacant British Lightweight championship. Anthony was matched up with scouser John Watson (13-1 KO 5). Watson entered as the favorite over Crolla having only tasted defeat once in his previous 14 outings, that defeat came at the hands of former WBA World Champion Gavin Rees (33-1 KO 16). In a rough and tough fight, Crolla stopped Watson in a mild shock to claim the vacant British belt.


In the first defense of his newly minted crown, Crolla travelled to Motherwell, Scotland to take on Glasgow native, Willie Limond (34-3 KO 9). In the main event of the evening, Crolla put on a masterful boxing performance to silence the noisy Scottish crowd earning a shutout on all three scorecards winning by 120-108 on two scorecards and 120-109 on the other. In his next outing, he was matched with popular scouser ‘Dirty’ Derry Matthews (29-6-1 KO 15). Derry and Anthony would headline the show in Oldham, and it would be the Liverpool man who would pull out the victory handing Crolla his first-ever stoppage defeat by getting rid of the champion in the 7th round.

Crolla expressed his interest in a rematch with Gary Sykes next. Crolla entered into the Prizefighter tournament. In the quarter-finals, Crolla defeated Stephen Jennings (5-1-1 KO 2) by decision over three rounds. Crolla would then get the rematch he wanted against Gary Sykes (20-2 KO 5). Crolla out hustled Sykes in the opening round, but Sykes outworked Million Dollar in the second and the third to earn himself a split decision win over Crolla.


Crolla rebounded from the close defeat by winning the English Lightweight Title. He handed unbeaten Kieran Farrell (14-0 KO 3) his first defeat on points, winning 99-92, 99-93 and 96-94 on the judges' scorecards. Crolla then got a chance for redemption against Derry Matthews (32-8-1 KO 17) for the vacant Commonwealth title. By the end of the bout, both men were bloodied and battered, but for Matthews and Crolla there would be a disappointment as, after an entertaining fight, the fight would be ruled a split draw. Judge Ian John-Lewis scored the bout 115-113 in favor of Crolla, Judge Marcus McDonnell scored the fight 115-113 to Matthews, but judge Steve Gray had the fight 115-115, a draw.