WBO lightweight champion Terry ’Turbo’ Flanagan defends his belt against South African Mzonke Fana on July 9 at the Manchester Arena in the north of England, but is aware that bragging rights in his hometown are still well and truly up for grabs.
Flanagan and WBA lightweight titleholder Anthony ’Million Dolla’ Crolla share ownership of a weight-class and a city but have yet to meet in the ring, much to Flanagan’s frustration.
“They don’t want the fight,” he says. “It’s as simple as that. It’s an easy fight to make. Frank (Warren, promoter) isn’t making it hard for them. He’s not being difficult. If anything, he’s bending over backwards to make it happen. He’s giving into their demands. He has put the ball in their court and said they can have it on Sky Sports. But still they don’t want it.
“I’ve just got to concentrate on my own boxing, keep winning and hopefully people will continue talking about the fight and the Crolla team will do the right thing. If we both keep winning, it might happen down the line, but I’m not confident it will.”
Although he suspects exterior forces are stopping the fight from happening, the WBO champion is urging Crolla to speak up.
“It’s probably the people around him who are worried about the fight, but it’s still Crolla’s decision at the end of the day,” says Terry. “He’s the fighter. If he wants the fight, he should go to his coach or his promoter and say he wants the fight. They can’t argue with him. All he has got to do is say, ’Make the fight happen.’ But he doesn’t seem to be doing that.
“I think he knows my style will give him problems and I don’t think his team believe he can beat me. It’s a shame because Anthony’s a great fighter and he has looked really good in his last three fights. He has looked big, strong and fit and has boxed well. A fight between us would go down on paper as a 50/50 fight. I just think my better boxing ability would mean I outbox him.”
Flanagan, 30-0 (12 KOs), won’t rely on the Crolla fight. He can’t afford to. Instead,he’s concentrating all his energy on July 9 and Mzonke Fana and, beyond that, eyeing up alternative super-fights for later in the year.
“Crolla in Manchester is obviously the fight I want, because it makes the most sense, but there are some other great fights out there for me,” he says. “I’d love the fight with (Vasyl) Lomachenko if he steps up in weight and goes for a world title in a third weight-class. I wouldn’t be scared. He looks class, a real good fighter, but I want to fight the very best in the world. And, if anybody can beat him, I think it will be me. We’ve both got a similar style and we’d have a good fight, I’m sure.
“I just want big names and unification fights. People say, ’Why are you fighting this old man (Fana)?’ What they don’t realise is we offered Crolla the fight and they didn’t want it. We want the big fights that the fans want to see. All we can do is keep pushing for them and hopefully one of them will come off.”
Flanagan, 27, continues: “There’s no shame in losing a fight. You can still go on to have a great career. I just don’t like people conning the public and making out that their opponent is some big-punching dangerman and number one in the division when they’re not. It’s bullshit. Let’s just make proper fights and have the best fight the best. Don’t be scared to lose.”
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June 15, 2016