Anthony Crolla to defend his title against Ismael Barroso

11 Mar 2016 12:53

Anthony Crolla will make the first defence of his WBA lightweight crown against hard-hitting Venezuelan Ismael Barroso at the Manchester Arena on May 7.

Crolla became world champion at the same venue with a fifth-round knockout of Darleys Perez last November, which followed a controversial draw between the pair earlier in 2015.

The Mancunian, who has won 30, lost four and drawn three of his 37 professional contests, faces an unenviable maiden outing as 135lb world titlist.

Barroso (19-0-2, with 18KO wins) claimed the interim title with an impressive fifth-round stoppage of Crolla's former Matchroom stablemate Kevin Mitchell in December, which led to the Londoner's retirement.

Crolla said: "I am under no illusion that this is a tough task but there was no way I was not going to take the fight.

"People said I was going to duck him - if I don't fight him I lose my belt, simple. Of course I am going to fight him, I've worked too hard to become world champion to give it away.

"I knew that it wasn't the best of Kevin Mitchell in there when they boxed. He didn't look himself at the weigh-in and I was worried he was going to struggle.

"That said, Barroso was still impressive and we know he's a big puncher, so it's a really tough examination but one that I am really up for."