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Crolla retains WBA title

Anthony Crolla

MANCHESTER, England (AP) – Anthony Crolla made a successful first defense of his WBA lightweight title by knocking out Ismael Barroso in Manchester on Saturday.

Crolla’s pre-match assertion he would be the underdog for this fight did not look far-fetched in the early stages.

But the Manchester-born fighter hit back strongly and the end came when his opponent was counted out midway through the seventh round.

The big-punching Venezuelan was quickly into his stride and Crolla was showing signs of wear and tear at the end of the fourth round.

However, the home crowd was encouraged by a stronger show from their favourite in the fifth and Barroso was soon on the back foot.

A punishing body shot saw Barroso crumple to his knees and when he failed to beat the count Crolla was left to celebrate.

“This is my house and no one comes into it and takes what I’ve got,” Crolla told Sky Sports after the Manchester Arena contest.

“He thought he was going to get me out of there in three rounds…but I’m improving and I’ve shown that tonight.

“He caught me with a few, I wasn’t hurt but I felt a few, he hit me as hard as I’ve been hit.”