Why Darleys Perez will end Anthony Crolla's world champion ambition for a second time
The bookies believe the Mancunian can repeat his performance from the first fight, but the Colombian will not underestimate his opponent again
In July, Anthony Crolla’s dream of becoming world champion so soon after being attacked in his own home was shattered due to questionable judging.
'Million Dollar' produced a career-best performance to dominate and outclass WBA world lightweight title holder Darleys Perez.
The Colombian opponent was docked points in rounds 11 and 12 for persistent low blows - a show of desperation that most presumed would hand Crolla the title.
That was not the case, however, and here we are four months later anticipating what will most likely be a tighter rematch.
Both men return to the scene of their first bout, the Manchester Arena, and again the title belt is on the line.
Clearly, the bookies believe Crolla can repeat his first-fight performance.
That, however, is no guarantee.
The situation is reminiscent of the contests between Paul Smith and Arthur Abraham.
Abraham underestimated Smith and was on the brink of losing his title had it not been for the generous German scoring.
But in the rematch, Abraham knew what Smith had to offer and prepared accordingly, convincingly beating the Brit by unanimous decision.
The same could happen on Saturday.
There was such a feel-good atmosphere surrounding Crolla in the first fight.
The Mancunian’s national-hero status propelled him to produce the display he did against a usually top-operator Perez.
This time, though, the 32-year-old should go back to basics, using his three-inch reach advantage to fend off Crolla.
The champion will establish his jab early and, if allowed to do so, could stroll on to a points win at 15/8.
Perez’s power also has to be respected.
He was dazed by Crolla early in their first fight which prevented him from unleashing his power shots.
His 59 per cent KO ratio speaks for itself, however, and Crolla could feel the effects of Perez’ heavy hands later in the fight.
But Crolla should not be dismissed and his game-plan should be straightforward: emulate the first fight.
That night, he was was quick, flashy and powerful, visibly rocking Perez on occasion.
Crolla overwhelmed Perez in the opening rounds first time around - thus setting the tone for the entire fight - and he must do so again.
As the smaller fighter, his movement will be key to create angles to land his jab.