Boxing: Crolla can make Ukrainian king wait

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BOXING analyst Nick Munday (@NM_Sport) shares his betting thoughts on Friday night's big bout between Vasyl Lomachenko and Anthony Crolla.

Vasyl Lomachenko v Anthony Crolla | Saturday 13th April 2019, 04:00 | Sky Sports

Pound-for-pound king Vasyl Lomachenko takes on Manchester’s Anthony Crolla for the WBA, WBO and Ring Magazine world lightweight titles on Friday night in Los Angeles.

‘Million Dollar’ Crolla has a mountain to climb against the fastest ever three-weight world champion, who also won gold at the Beijing and London Olympics. Lomachenko (12-1, 9 KOs) wows fans with his tremendous footwork, terrifying hand speed and occasional showboating. He’s must-watch.

Crolla (34-6-3, 13 KOs) held the WBA lightweight title between 2015-2016 but his short reign was ended after a points loss to Jorge Linares. An unnecessary immediate rematch was decisive and with Linares dominating proceedings, coach Joe Gallagher was close to pulling his man out prior to the final round.

Crolla size advantage?

Lomachenko was supposed to be unifying with IBF champion Richard Commey this week, but the Ghanaian suffered a hand injury back in February. So instead Crolla, the WBA mandatory challenger, gets his big chance to face the world’s best.

Despite having just 13 fights, Loma has fought decent opposition in 12 world title fights. However, in his last three outings at Super-Featherweight in 2017, two of his stoppages came against boxers who weren’t at their natural weight.

Miguel Marriaga is a Featherweight (retired Round 7) and Guillermo Rigondeaux boxes at two weight classes below (retired Round 6), so those knockouts are a bit misleading on paper.

Moving up to 135lbs last year, he recovered from a knockdown – and a dislocated shoulder in Round 2 – to stop Jorge Linares in Round 10 of an unforgettable contest. He ended 2018 with a unanimous decision win over José Pedraza.

The Ukrainian is natural Super-Feather but has had to move up to find people willing to face him. Crolla (5′ 8½″) will take confidence from the fact that Lomachenko (5′ 7″) normally gives away a size advantage at this weight, although he is still winning comfortably.

The betting verdict

Lomachenko (1/50) and Crolla (20/1) are worlds apart in terms of skill level, but this is a mandatory defence and nobody can begrudge the likeable Mancunian getting his big date in the States.

Many regard the champion as the best boxer on the planet right now so it’s tricky to sniff out any value. I don’t see an early blowout though and there is an angle in the Total Rounds market.

True, Crolla’s high guard and come-forward style will eventually play into Loma’s hands as he can pick him off from awkward angles. However, this is likely to be the challenger’s last hurrah before he retires, so he won’t want to go out with a whimper.

In his six defeats, Crolla has only been stopped once (seven years ago). The Mancunian was put down in Round 7 during the second defeat to Linares but could be tough enough to take Loma into the second half of the fight. We can take 5/4 (Paddy Power) for the fight to reach Round 8.

By that point the Ukrainian will be fully in control and looking for the stoppage.

Best Bets

Vasyl Lomachenko v Anthony Crolla – Over 7.5 Rounds (5/4 Paddy Power)

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