Anthony Crolla v Darleys Perez: Briton dreams of world title

By Michael EmonsBBC Sport
Anthony Crolla and Darleys Perez
Anthony Crolla (left) has won 29 out of 35 professional contests
Saturday night boxing
Venue: Manchester Arena Date: Saturday, 18 July
Coverage: Quigg v Martinez, 21:00 BST, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra. Crolla v Perez, 22:15 BST, BBC Radio 5 live.

World title challenger Anthony Crolla says he is grateful to be alive and to have "been given a second chance" as he aims to become a world champion.

Crolla suffered a fractured skull and a broken ankle when he was hit with a concrete slab as he confronted burglars at his neighbours' home in December.

But on Saturday he fights Colombian Darleys Perez for his WBA lightweight title at the Manchester Arena.

"I'm just thankful to be given another chance," said 28-year-old Crolla.

More than 500 people attended Friday's weigh-in and Manchester-born Crolla screamed out in delight when he successfully made the weight before the biggest night of his career.

Anthony Crolla facing return to ring for title fight

A crowd of 15,000 is expected at the Manchester Arena on a night when Bury's Scott Quigg also aims to make the fifth defence of his WBA super-bantamweight title.

Crolla says he had no idea what he would have done if a brain scan in April had declared him medically unable to box again.

"I was too scared to think of a life without boxing - it's a huge part of my life and there would be a big void without it," Crolla told BBC Sport.

"I've been taken aback by all the well-wishers and I've been overwhelmed by it - that's why I want to thank these people back by winning the title.

"I have to put on a career-best performance but I want to make sure the story has a happy ending.

Anthony Crolla and John Murray
Anthony Crolla celebrates after victory over John Murray last year

"I've dreamed over and over what it would be like to win but no dream will be as good as what it would be like to actually do it."

Crolla, who has won 29 out of 35 professional contests, had been scheduled to face then-WBA champion Richar Abril before the attack by burglars threatened the Manchester fighter's boxing future.

"I thought Anthony's career was finished eight months ago," Crolla's trainer Joe Gallagher said.

"In the hospital I was devastated and I went home and said to the missus 'that's it, Anthony will not fight again'.

"If the slab had landed an inch either way or at a different angle then the kid may not be here now.

"I did some research and I couldn't find one boxer who had that type of injury and had come back to box again."

After relentless hard work in the gym, Crolla is now "like a new fighter" and Gallagher is hoping for the dream ending.

"It's a remarkable story and to cap it off with a world title would be one of the feel-good stories of the year," added Gallagher.

"Anthony has already proved me wrong and will prove everyone else wrong by winning the world title."

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