By Danny Winterbottom, ringside: After a thrilling war of attrition, that saw both boxers lay everything on the line in pursuit of glory, it was former British champion Anthony “Million Dollar” Crolla that claimed the vacant English Lightweight title by 10 round unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Heywood prospect Kieran Farrell inside a freezing cold Bowlers Exhibition Centre on Friday Dec 7.
Following the back and forth war a shocking turn of events occurred as 22-year-old Farrell, who had given his all throughout the contest to the backdrop of passionate support, collapsed in his own corner and was treated for several minutes for exhaustion before a stretcher was called and paramedics rushed the stricken youngster quickly from the Arena. The pro Farrell crowd was in shock after witnessing their hero give his all but come up short against the classy fellow Mancunian.
In Coldwell Boxing’s inaugural promotion showcased on a free to download application, Farrell and Crolla tore into each other from the opening bell. Farrell poured forward and never stopped letting his hands go as Crolla took a moment to adjust to the youngsters ferocity. As the Joe Gallagher trained stylist settled into the opening three minutes he picked the cleaner shots as many of Farrell’s clubbing blows hit arms and elbows.
Farrell’s appetite for work was insatiable as he continued his forward march in round two as the pair attempted to out gun each other up close. The bout was turning into a phone booth shootout as neither warrior would give ground as they swapped uppercuts, hooks and body blows in a tremendous round that levelled the contest up on my card.
Crolla, who has a cultured left jab, began to find more room to work in the third as he peppered Farrell with his stick throughout. Rolling and dipping into range Farrell was caught on the way in but would always land something to make Crolla think.
By round four Farrell was busting a gut as he dug hard to the body of Crolla. The former British champion had a look of discomfort etched across his face as it was proving difficult for him to extinguish the fire raging inside the Heywood man. Round five saw Farrell have his best session as he continued the theme of the previous round. Body shots seemed to momentarily have Crolla in trouble as a left sunk home and he tucked up tight without firing back. He rode out the storm but Farrell seemed to be getting on top.
Farrell started the sixth with a burst of punches that Crolla partially blocked with a high held guard. Kieran was working tremendously hard but not landing too many hurtful punches as Crolla began to box and move.
Farrell had his head rocked back more often in the seventh as Crolla began to assert control with his jab and footwork. Farrell looked jaded as he attempted to close the distance and work the Crolla body.
Round eight had the Arena in raptures as both men traded blows. Crolla picked the more eye catching shots to take the session as Farrell began to slow and drop his hands.
Crolla had a big ninth as his right hand and left jab stopped Farrell in his tracks on several occasions. Farrell dug deep to fire straight back at Crolla as the crowd roared their approval.
By now Crolla had his boxing together and was out punching the youngster from range. Farrell simply couldn’t get close enough and didn’t have the punching power to turn the contest in his favour.
Judge Terry O’Connor scored the contest 96-94, Dave Parris carded 99-93 and Phil Edwards saw it 99-92 all in favour of Crolla. Howard Foster of Doncaster officiated. Crolla improved to 25-4 and Farrell dropped to 14-1.
After the shocking scenes that saw Farrell leave the ring on a stretcher, more encouraging news reached ringside that he had regained consciousness in the back of an Ambulance on his way to hospital. More to follow.
Full undercard report to follow