As soon as Anthony Crolla ended the conversation, he had made a decision; there was no need for consultation.
It was just over a year ago when Crolla’s path to Vasyl Lomachenko was first laid for him. It was clear from the outset that it would not be idyllic, but again, Crolla has never done things the conventional way.
He and his wife had searched the map for honeymoon destinations when his phone rang.
Anthony Crolla delayed his honeymoon so that he could try to get a fight with Vasyl Lomachenko
The pair successfully weighed below the lightweight limit for their world title clash
“We were planning our journey away, but then I was offered a way to return to a world title. It was something I just had to take, “he says.
A final eliminator fight against Daud Yordan was the golden ticket he had been waiting for. And so the tense moment came to pass judgment.
“I was a little nervous. I said to the woman, “We have to postpone the honeymoon,” but you know what it was really hard to convince her. She is cool, she has always understood the work. “
This was just the big gesture his career longed for. After handing over his WBA world title to Jorge Linares and not reclaiming it in their rematch, Crolla was desperate for a route back to the top. This gave him it.
Crolla tied the knot with his partner Fran in August and later went into a camp for a fight with Yordan. He does not take half measures.
The fate would have his sacrifice not be in vain if the Manchester hunter took a comfortable decision win to set up a meeting with Lomachenko in Los Angeles.
“It’s funny that it went that way, because it’s actually a place she’s always wanted to go to,” Crolla says, chuckling.
“My wife and boy both fly away, so the plan is to stay here for another week or so after having the fight and the honeymoon as a family.
‘We can also travel around a bit. I’m lucky it was turned off this way. It saved me at least for the flight. “
Crolla challenges the Ukrainian on Friday for the WBO world title in Los Angels
But for now his focus is firmly on Lomachenko. It can’t afford anything. The slick Ukrainian is widely regarded as the best pugilist on the planet, so it’s no surprise that most people consider this fight a foregone conclusion.
Not that that changes Crolla’s outlook. He has always played the role of the brave underdog.
“I’m used to it,” he says. “I think it’s important to remember that I didn’t get this shot alone. I earned it by being in the mandatory position.
“I never thought of rejecting this fight. If I did that, I would be in the wrong sport. I know how difficult it will be, but I believe in my abilities.
“My dream was to become a world champion and I always thought I could be. I would lie if I said it seemed likely early in my career, but I always believed in myself and people laughed at me because I had that belief.
“This is one of those battles that makes life easier for me and my family, but I now have the opportunity to attach my name to one of the biggest problems in British boxing history, and that is not obvious.”
He said his wife always wanted to go to LA and that they would have the honeymoon after the fight
Crolla is indeed 39/1 in a race with two horses. There would have been much easier roads leading to a world title than this one. Lomachenko is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-weight world champion who possesses superior hand speed, dazzling footwork and unparalleled responses and timing. There is much to appreciate.
And so Crolla’s character embodies that this is the direction he chose. The essence of him is a clear desire for challenge and an instinct to swim against the current. Taking the easy option has never been on the agenda, regardless of the circumstances.
At the end of 2014, just a few weeks before his first world title fight in his hometown, Crolla had broken his skull in an attack that could have ended his life instead of just his boxing career.
He bravely confronted and chased away two burglars trying to rob his neighbor’s house and saw them beaten away at the expense of being hit with a concrete slab.
“The doctors told me that I was lucky, that I could have died. I have come a long way since that hospital bed. ”
Lomachenko has a superior hand speed and is the heavy favorite to win the fight
Almost exactly a year after the attack, Crolla did the unthinkable by conquering a world title. His story helps to give some prospects for Friday’s back-to-the-wall job, but it’s not the only thing that fuels him.
“I have had to overcome many things and this is just another. Not only do I get motivation from the fact that I have returned from the attack, “he says.
‘I get motivated by seeing my little boy and family every morning, the effort my team makes around me and the fact that a lot of people make the trip.
“They only have a seven-week notice to get the money together, and that’s pretty humiliating. So that is also the motivation for me. “
Crolla has also not cut corners in his preparations and can at least get a crumb of comfort from the fact that he will present himself in the ring in ultimate fighting condition.
“I believe I am in the best shape of my career and my life and I think I should be because I am fighting one of the best fighters in the world, so I should be there for it, I would must be . I am 32 but I live well and I feel that I have trained very hard for this fight.
‘I have pushed new limits physically, but I also feel mentally stronger than ever. I know it’s going to be mentally tough. Lomachenko likes to frustrate his opponents, he likes to make people stop.
The Manchester hunter had broken his skull in an attack that could have ended his life
“He has stopped three or four world champions and he likes to break their hearts and of course we have tried to feel that we have coped with that frustration as well as possible, and it works.
‘Joe (Gallagher – his trainer) made me throw punches. I know I’m going to miss this at the gym. It is about dealing with those frustrations because I know that I will not have it all in my own way.
“I have to think a lot about that, but I’m ready and I can’t wait for it now. I spent a lot of this camp outside of my family and missed many things. It is the sacrifices you have to make for these opportunities. “
Victory against Lomachenko would open the door for a wealth of unprecedented wealth, but Crolla did not seem to care.
“Winning this fight would change my life, but it wouldn’t change me,” he says. “I’m still in my season ticket at Old Trafford every other Saturday. I would still work with the amateur kids in the gym when I return.
“Me, I’m not like that. I’m glad I’m just going to drink a cup of coffee and a cake or do some yoga. I’m not a rock and a roller. “
Crolla insists that defeating Lomachenko for his titles would not change his life
His recent stories about sacrifice are just a drop in the ocean – his 13-year roller coaster career is full of it.
The ride is now coming to an end, but no matter what happens in LA on Friday night, there have been no regrets.
“I’m in the last chapter of my career, I know that. Looking back, it has been a crazy thing to say the least.
‘Many mistakes have been made, many lessons learned and many highs and lows, but they have all been part of my journey.
“I can honestly say that I have done everything and I would not want to change it for the world.”
While he is looking forward to Friday night, there is no doubt that the first bell sounds, he will look back on the walk that brought him here.
His chances against Lomachenko are nanoscopic, but that’s not what Crolla is used to.
The 32-year-old has beaten himself in excellent condition prior to Friday’s collision