The undercard to the big Undisputed Cruiserweight Title fight is tepid at best, with a final eliminator for the World Title the highlight. Eddie Hearn has had to send for reinforcements due to late notice postponements.
The chief support at the Manchester Arena is spearheaded by Manchester’s own Anthony “Million Dollar” Crolla (33-6-3, KO13). He faces off in a final eliminator for the WBA Lightweight World Title, a championship he has held before, against Indonesian danger man, Daud Yordan (38-3, KO26). The winner will be next in line to meet the superlative Ukrainian, Vasyl Lomachenko, the current WBA (Super) and WBO Champion, who fights Jose Pedraza in December. It’s an intriguing fight, and will tell us exactly what Crolla has left since releasing his grip on the WBA belt in back to back gruelling defeats to the superb Venezuelan, Jorge Linares in 2016 and 2017.
He has rebounded with two wins since, including a decisive win over Ricky Burns (more about him later) in October last year, but his fight with Yordan will surely be another big test of what the Mancunian has left in the tank. Crolla first challenged for the WBA Title in July 2015, but was controversially denied a dream win with the judges scoring the fight with Darleys Perez a draw, despite Perez having two points deducted in the fight for low blows. The rematch was immediate, and Crolla left no doubt this time with a wicked left hook to the body wrecking Perez inside five rounds. The avoided Ismael Barroso was Crolla’s first defence, and the Venezuelan was dispatched with a right to the body in seven rounds in May 2016.
This lead to a dream fight with Jorge Linares with the WBA and WBC Diamond Titles on the line. Linares was simply too slick for Crolla, and came home well enough on the cards. A rematch followed, again at the Manchester Arena, with Linares much more clinical this time. He knocked Crolla down in the seventh before winning wide on the scorecards. Since this reverse he has outpointed Burns and last time out, Edson Ramirez was widely outscored in March on the Joshua v Parker bill.
His opponent this Saturday, Daud Yordan, has 26 knockouts, and has fought all over the world, so the cauldron of the Manchester Arena will not faze him. He is a former World Title challenger, coming up short on the cards against his underrated countryman, Chris John in a challenge for the WBA “Super” Featherweight Title back in 2011. He has also held the lighter regarded IBO Titles at Featherweight and Lightweight. He comes to the North West this weekend on the back of an eight fight winning run, defeating the unbeaten Pavel Malikov in his own Moscow backyard last time out in April via eighth round knockout in a WBA Title eliminator.
This could be a difficult nights work for Crolla, and he will have to be on his mettle against a real live opponent that is coming to win. Yordan will keep pressure on Crolla throughout, and I think it could turn into a phone box style battle, with both men not giving an inch. I favour Crolla’s punch picking to be just the difference, and I anticipate a razor thin points win for “Million Dollar”. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a knockdown or two either way in this one.
The Joe Cordina v Scott Cardle (23-2-1, KO7) contest for the Commonwealth Lightweight title fell by the wayside due to an injury picked up by Welshman Cordina in training last week.
Surprisingly, in steps three weight World Champion, Ricky Burns (42-7-1, KO15) to fill the void in what will be a ten round contest. Burns was already in training to make an appearance on a DAZN show in Kansas on November 17. Defeat could likely mean the end of the road for either man, with Burns harbouring hopes of one last Title shot or big payday, and Cardle hoping to get back into at least domestic contention following a crushing defeat inside two rounds in a challenge for his old British Title against Lewis Ritson back in March at the O2 Arena, London. Both combatants don’t have spectacular knockout power, but I feel Burns still has enough in the tank to see off Cardle via the long route, with his superior top level experience being the difference.
Mr PPV himself, Dave Allen (15-4-2, KO12), gets a run out against an opponent yet to be announced. The ever popular “Doncaster De La Hoya” makes another appearance following a one round blowout win against Samir Nebo last month.
Commonwealth Welterweight Champion, Josh “PBK” Kelly (7-0, KO5), also gets a ten round run out against the dreaded “TBA”