Anthony Crolla knocks out Darleys Perez to win WBA world lightweight title
Last Updated: 22/11/15 3:56pm
Anthony Crolla has become WBA world lightweight champion after a stunning fifth-round stoppage of Darleys Perez on Saturday night.
The Manchester man landed a single body shot that left Perez crumpled in a heap, unable to make the count and handing over the strap he retained via a split draw in the same arena back in July.
The judges' decision in their first meeting was controversial but the rematch was over in explosive, emotional and, given the cautious start, almost unexpected fashion.
Crolla v Perez
Sign in with your Sky ID to watch extended highlights of Saturday's big fight in Manchester...
Crolla, who promised he would be even better second time around, set up the decisive shot with a classic combination and as Perez kept his defence high, a quick dip down and a crunching left to the body proved too much for the Colombian.
I didn't know it would be this good, honestly. It's even better than I dreamt
Perez looked a beaten man before the count hit 10 and as soon as the referee waved the fight off, Crolla leapt in celebration with his trainer Joe Gallagher, his team and what seemed like the whole of Manchester.
"I've dreamt this dream since I was 10 years of age," he told Sky Sports. "I didn't know it would be this good, honestly. It's even better than I dreamt.
"I believe I am getting stronger all the time, but I thought it was going to be a head shot. I was really confident that I was going to get a head shot, but I'll take that body shot any day of the week."
Crolla looked like he was even more focused and determined than in their first bout but, with Perez also looking a different fighter, it seemed sure to go to the scorecards again.
The Manchester Arena crowd roared their hero into the ring but as soon as the fight started, the atmosphere became tense as both fighters tried to find their range and be first to the punch.
Both swapped crisp, clean jabs at will, with Crolla the busier, although Perez picked him off with a lovely uppercut in the second. The third saw both men miss with wild shots but it was a rarity as many of the exchanges were impressive.
Perez increased his pace in the third round but the fourth saw Crolla's combinations come into play and a couple of short uppercuts suggested he was in better shape than last time.
He proved the point around 2mins 20secs of that fifth round - pressing the champion back onto the ropes, unlocking the door with work upstairs and then sending a crashing left home to leave Perez in pain and Britain with another new world champion.