Anthony Crolla retains world title with knockout of Ismael Barroso
Last Updated: 08/05/16 10:44am
Anthony Crolla retained his WBA world lightweight title by knocking out Ismael Barroso in the seventh round of a classic fight of two halves.
The champion absorbed the raw power from his challenger and slowly but surely turned the tables in an exhilarating and emotional first defence at the packed Manchester Arena.
Crolla's seventh-round knockdown and subsequent 10 count not only proved the Mancunian is an established world champion, but also that his challenger had run out of gas.
If the ending came a little earlier than many expected the way 'Million Dollar' didn't budge and remained calm through the opening onslaught came as no real surprise.
Yet, even the most loyal Manchester fans feared the worst at the start when Barroso, who had blasted Kevin Mitchell away the last time he was on these shores, came out firing.
His heavy hands found their mark from the first bell to cause real concern, but Crolla stayed behind a firm guard and was happy to keep on his toes, letting the Venezuelan do all the work.
However, Crolla was suffering and with Barroso's left landing time and time again and the right not far behind, the home fighter's face was reddening punch by punch.
A cut on Crolla's left eye opened in the third yet if Barroso went for the finish he came up against a fighter ready to produce the performance of his career and, all of a sudden, Crolla seemed happy to finally stand in range and trade.
A shoot-out saw Crolla throw rights to the ribs and then a left to match, landing faster if not harder than his counterpart. Halfway through the fifth, Barosso was suddenly the one that had to suck it in.
He couldn't though and a big right in the sixth had him wincing and, in a total role reversal, Crolla had him pinned on the ropes, the body shots and straight rights unleashed.
Barroso made it to the centre of the ring for safety and slumped to the canvas, but even with the referee ruling out a knockdown, he could barely make it back to his stool, while Crolla's eyes were shining, the spring in his step still going strong.
Crolla knew his opponent's defences were almost done and within a minute of the seventh it was over.
As he fired in short, sharp combinations Barroso stumbled out of range, his legs almost gone, but like any true world champion Crolla finished it off, sending him to the floor for the first and final time with a right body shot.