Anthony Crolla: 'I did not want to waste my second chance'
Anthony Crolla said he was not going to waste a second chance as he claimed the WBA lightweight title almost a year after believing his career was over.
The 29-year-old defeated Darleys Perez on Saturday in a rematch following their controversial draw in July.
Last December, Crolla suffered a fractured skull and broken ankle trying to stop burglars, scuppering hopes of a WBA showdown against Richar Abril.
"I've realised the dream," the Manchester boxer told BBC Sport.
"The difference between how I feel now and last Christmas is a million miles apart.
"Then I was sat on the couch with my leg in plaster. I was skin and bones because I lost so much weight through medication.
"It was up in the air whether I'd be able to fight again. This Christmas I'll have the belt under the tree with a lot to look forward to next year."
Crolla was hit with a concrete slab as he tried to apprehend two men, and said at the time of the incident he was "lucky to be alive".
"I made a promise in the hospital bed that I'd come back stronger," he added.
"I came so close to losing it all I wanted to make sure of every chance. I was given a second chance. I didn't want to waste that. In the rematch I didn't want to leave anything to chance."
After four cagey rounds, Crolla secured victory in his home city when he landed a massive left hook to the body that floored champion Perez, who could not make the count.
The new champions is on course to fight fellow Briton Kevin Mitchell. The 31-year-old would become the mandatory WBA challenger if he defeats Ismael Barroso on 12 December.
Crolla is hoping the potential fight will take place at the home of the club he supports, Manchester United.
"I could never imagine fighting at Old Trafford," he said.
"Kevin is a great lad and has got great support. It's something I'd jump at given the opportunity. It's something I wouldn't have dreamt about a year ago."