By Frank Warren
Much as it was a scrap we were extremely keen to put on for the British fight fans, it looks like the Manchester lightweight derby between Terry Flanagan and Anthony Crolla has gone by the board – for now, at least.
Twice we have tried to tempt Crolla to the table with offers to fight his city rival in a fight which would have resonated far beyond the Manchester boundaries, but both times he opted for the challenge of attempting to overthrow the Venezuelan stylist Jorge Linares.
Unfortunately, he has twice come up short and I am afraid that Terry is nobody’s consolation prize.
In any case, Turbo Terry has got serious business of his own to attend to before we make definitive moves regarding his next fight – and he can’t afford to misfire.
Petr Petrov provides a genuine threat to Terry’s unbeaten record on April 8 at the Manchester Arena. He wanted a test and, believe me, he has got one on his hands with Petrov.
Crolla suffering back-to-back defeats is the reason his team now appear prepared to talk turkey. Were he still in possession of a belt I am sure they would’ve carried on as if Terry didn’t exist.
Much like the Sky commentary team and assorted pundits. Professionally – if you can call them professional – the lack of recognition for a genuine world champion is disgraceful.
If Crolla had come away with the spoils at the weekend, all the subsequent rhetoric would have been about Mikey Garcia and a jaunt over to Vegas.
Now he remains beltless, the post-fight briefing to the press was all about how he might be willing to step in with Terry if I am prepared to pay him a million quid.
Market values don’t generally go up so sharply following bad defeats, so it will be interesting to see if he commands such a fee should he go in with say Ricky Burns, as was suggested.
Crolla might win popularity contests in Manchester, but Terry wins fights and that is what it is all about at the end of the day.
Terry doesn’t need to take any backward steps now and wants to be in fights that will increase his stock. Linares might well be mandated by the WBC to face the champion Garcia and sort out this nonsense with the ‘Diamond belt’ at the same time.
However, an alternative for Linares is a unification against Terry and that is what we are exploring at the moment, while not taking the threat of Petrov lightly.
Terry is a far more wily and cunning customer than Crolla, who Linares seemed able to pick off with considerable ease. To my mind, Terry has got more about him and is not one to just walk onto repeated punishment as Crolla did when he was outclassed by the super-slick Linares that Joe Gallagher wanted to pull him out at the end of the eleventh.
Crolla, to his credit, showed grit, guts and determination to make it to the final bell and can take pride in giving it his all.
Linares would be a great fight for Terry and one I am hopeful we can put together.
First things first though and we have an absolute bonanza of boxing to look forward to on April 8, with quality fights from top to bottom of the card.
It was somewhat bemusing to hear that Eddie Hearn was attempting to underplay the public interest in the show with spurious claims of how many tickets have been sold.
It was a stupid claim and one that I am not really going to get into because everyone will see on the night how many people are there.
Perhaps it was just a typically childish reaction to seeing three of his fighters suffering chastening defeats.
Anyway, it is all a bit rich coming from Mr StubHub, friend of the fans. At least our tickets are available at the box office as opposed to the secondary market sponsor!
Our Manchester show features a clutch of fights that, on any other platform, would come at a cost of 17 quid to the TV viewer and I believe the fans are in for a treat.
Whichever way you choose to watch it you are onto a winner – be that box office, BT Sport or BoxNation.
Take your pick and enjoy.
More from Frank tomorrow