How Anthony Crolla Could Pull Off the Upset of the Century

Lomachenko Crolla odds

Getty Anthony Crolla of England celebrates his victory over Daud Yordan. Crolla next faces Top Rank superstar Vasyl Lomachenko.

Buster Douglas. Frankie Randall. James Braddock. Leon Spinks. These are just a few of boxing’s most famous underdog upset artists. On Friday, Anthony Crolla gets his shot at boxing immortality in a matchup against the heavily favored champion and Top Rank darling Vasyl Lomachenko.

The fight headlines an intriguing Top Rank Event at the Staples Center that will air on ESPN+. (You can start a free trial here to watch the fight.)

The Lomachenko Crolla odds have Crolla as a massive 16/1 underdog. Lomechenko is a 1/100 favorite. A $100 bet on the underdog would pay out a whopping $1,600.

The only fighters in history who have won with longer odds were Buster Douglas and Frankie Randall. Douglas is best known for the biggest betting upset in boxing history with a surprise knockout over a prime (but unfocused) Mike Tyson where he was listed as a whopping 43/1 underdog. Frankie Randall was an astonishing 19/1 underdog against Julio Cesar Chavez and stopped Chavez’s legendary 89-fight win streak in a tightly contested split decision.

But Crolla may not be the steep underdog that oddsmakers are making him out to be. A crafty point fighter and former lightweight champion with an iron chin, Crolla has the necessary tools to make this much closer of a fight than the 16/1 odds he faces. Often times, name alone is enough to move the needle when it comes to the betting line. In the case of Lomachenko, that is almost certainly what is happening given his stellar resume. While it still is a longshot for Crolla to pull off the upset, the British brawler might just have the necessary tools and style to pull off the upset of the century.

Although the odds are stacked against him, here’s how Anthony Crolla could shock the world and pull off the upset of the century against Vasyl Lomachenko:

1. Crolla Needs to Attack the Body Early

Anthony Crolla Vasyl Lomachenko Body Shot

GettyAnthony Crolla of England lands a body shot, something he must do repeatedly to beat Vasyl Lomachenko.

Vasyl Lomachenko has some of the fastest and sharpest hands in the sport. To make things tougher, his southpaw stance makes for an incredibly difficult stylistic matchup for orthodox fighters – like Crolla. Lomachenko thrives on using his excellent footwork to neutralize power shots to the head, in particular by probing his front foot.

Lomachenko doesn’t throw an overly large amount of punches despite having lightning fast hands. Instead, he uses his front foot to establish distance against orthodox fighters. By keeping his foot just on the outside of the opposing orthodox fighter’s front foot, he can more or less take away their straight right hand as the other fighter has to throw it all the way across his body. From that spot, Lomachenko’s quick hands become deadly and he can inflict considerable damage while controlling a fight.

But Crolla has devastating power to the body and has been known to go there early and often in his fights. Although sending Lomachenko to the canvas with a vicious body hook is unlikely, Crolla’s punches should start to add up on Lomachenko as the fight goes on. With a number of body shot knockdowns to his name, this may be Crolla’s biggest weapon in dethroning one of the sport’s best pound-for-pound champions as it will open up Lomachenko in a number of ways.

First, repeated shots to the body early will slow down Lomachenko’s notoriously fast footwork, enabling Anthony Crolla to more frequently elude that probing front foot. This should open up more power shots to the head as the fight goes on. More importantly, as seen in Lomachenko’s lone loss to Salido, big body shots helped keep him around on the scorecard early on. Crolla is more of a crafty point fighter and unlikely to stop Lomachenko, so stealing a few early rounds will become all that more important for the upset.

2. Crolla Can’t Be Afraid to Tie Lomachenko Up

Vasyl Lomachenko Anthony Crolla Tie Up

GettyReferee Harvey Dock sperates Vasiliy Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux, something Crolla must become very familiar with.

While it doesn’t make for pretty boxing, one of the best ways to neutralize Lomachenko’s power and speed is to get inside and tie him up. Lomachenko is at his best when he controls the distance and has shown this time and time again that if given the space to operate he will pick opponents apart with his hands. While it is much easier said than done against someone with Lomachenko’s footwork, Crolla will need to repeatedly find a way inside when Lomachenko inevitably starts to get his rhythm.

Though Lomachenko does possess dangerous power disengaging from the clinch – just ask Orlando Salido – he is far more dangerous when allowed to establish his distance and pick and choose his power shots. By tying him up and repeatedly making the fight ugly, you can frustrate Lomachenko into leaving small openings at close range.

Post-Fight: Orlando SalidoOrlando Salido explains to Crystina Poncher how he gave Vasyl Lomachenko a lesson on fighting in the pros.2014-03-04T00:31:29.000Z

Especially in Lomachenko’s fight against Salido, he became increasingly frustrated as the fight went on. Salido repeatedly wrapped him up to close the distance before using solid body shots to do damage and earn points on the way out. Perhaps most importantly, wrapping him up tires out Lomachenko’s arms, helping to put a cap on the effectiveness of his power shots.

Turning fights ugly and making fighters uncomfortable is what Crolla has excelled at since he lost his belt in 2016. Once a fighter more comfortable trying to stand and trade with his opponents, Crolla’s last three fights, all wins, have shown us a much more measured fighter who understands and is willing to do things that may not please the fans but will win you fights. Especially in his latest win over former lightweight champion Daud Yordan, Crolla put forth a workmanlike effort and wore down the former titleholder.

This sort of measured but ugly gameplan will be necessary against a fighter of Lomachenko’s caliber but Crolla has given us every reason to believe that he is at the very least capable of fighting the perfect fight to shock Lomachenko.

Lomachenko vs. Crolla airs Friday, April 12, on ESPN+. You can watch it for free by starting a free 7-day trial here.

3. Crolla Can Win by Using His Size Advantage

Anthony Crolla Vasyl Lomachenko

GettyAnthony Crolla using size to his against Darleys Perez.

At 5’7″, Lomachenko has very solid size for the lightweight division despite starting his career down in featherweight. However, Crolla is a natural lightweight and the former champion actually possesses slightly better size compared to Lomachenko. While Orlando Salido wasn’t the taller man, he had nearly 15 pounds on Lomachenko when the two entered the ring and used his size advantage to pressure Lomachenko nonstop and bully him around the ring.

Lomachenko is most accustomed to fighters who respect his power and try to stay outside his heavy hands but struggled through the first 11 rounds to crack the pressure Salido was applying. Once Salido tired in the 12th, Lomachenko teed off but it was simply too late. Crolla is going to need to follow a similar game plan in order to dethrone Lomachenko – something much easier said than done.

Similarly, Crolla will need to use his weight to lean on Lomachenko and grind him out. Despite only standing an inch taller, Crolla has been fighting at lightweight his entire career and should undoubtedly walk into the ring the slightly larger man. Similar to his approach against the bigger and stronger Yordan, Crolla will want to work his way inside past the powerful and precise shots of Lomachenko. This time around against a man that he will have a height and weight advantage over, he might actually find the going a little easier.

As mentioned above, Crolla is more of a points fighter compared to a knockout artist. If he wants to win, it will almost certainly go down to a judge’s decision. While he won’t have the weight advantage that Salido had against Lomachenko, he will be the taller and bigger fighter and needs to use that to his advantage.

4. Crolla Can Win if He Avoids Getting Lured Into a Slugfest With Lomachenko

Vasiliy Lomachenko Anthony Crolla Slugfest

Vasiliy Lomachenko shows off his heavy hands in a knockdown over Jose Pedraza.

Despite Crolla’s tendency to take his fights to the judge’s scorecard, he possesses a fantastic chin and is extremely comfortable standing in the pocket and trading shots with other fighters. He cannot get lured into this sort of attack plan against Lomachenko as Lomachenko has near unmatched power at the lightweight division. As strong as Crolla’s chin may be, he has been stopped before and he needs to be extremely careful against Lomachenko.

Lomachenko will undoubtedly try to lure the British brawler into a war given Crolla’s history. Lomachenko is an extremely smart fighter and knows that he has a major advantage should the fight devolve into the two fighters throwing haymakers at one another. Lomachenko’s hands are simply too fast and too powerful for any fighter in those circumstances.

Knockouts: Lomachenko vs MartinezOn his way to a historic second title within seven fights, Vasyl Lomachenko made a statement against Rocky Martinez winning by knockout at Madison Square Garden.2016-06-13T22:59:05.000Z

While there is an off chance that Crolla lands a big shot that floors Lomachenko, the odds that he ends up face down on the canvas are much higher in this scenario. Instead, refer to steps one through three. Crolla needs to fight a smart and controlled fight where he attacks the body early and often before using his size advantage to pressure Lomachenko and neutralize his power.

Crolla has shown the ability to throw vicious body shots before and looks to have the tools to follow this sort of game plan. Just look at his KO victory over Ismael Barroso. Crolla weathered an early storm from Barroso before turning the tides of the fight late in the sixth and dropping him for good with a vicious right hook to the body in the seventh.

Although he may not get the opportunity to survive a blitz from Lomachenko, Crolla has at least shown the ability to take damage and keep coming forward, something he will need to do repeatedly against Lomachenko. Crolla will certainly get tagged a few times but he will need to keep pressing forward through Lomachenko’s attacks to that grinding, inside position where he should experience the most success.

5. Crolla Can’t Give Lomachenko the Chance to Feel Him Out

Lomachenko Crolla Feel Out

Vasyl Lomachenko evades a punch early against Miguel Marriaga.

One thing that Lomachenko excels at is keeping the fight at a distance and feeling out his opponent early on. Adept at making adjustments on the fly, Lomachenko becomes incredibly dangerous if given the opportunity to get a good read on his opponent. A slow first round is a theme in many of Lomachenko’s first rounds and one of the few fights that saw him get into the mud early resulted in his only loss.

For example, take Lomachenko’s fight against Romulo Koasicha:

VideoVideo related to how anthony crolla could pull off the upset of the century2019-04-10T02:53:29-04:00

The first round saw almost no action at all from either fighter as Koasicha looked scared to engage and Lomachenko simply sat back to get the timing of Koasicha’s punches down. After yet another relatively uneventful second round, Lomachenko began to systematically pick Koasicha apart before putting him out for good after a flurry of punches to the head and body in the tenth round.

This is an area where Crolla should almost certainly excel at. Known for coming out of the gates early as a bundle of energy, Crolla should be on top of Lomachenko from the jump. Crolla does an excellent job of working his way into the middle of the ring where he proceeds to stalk the opposing fighter. That sort of pressure will go a long ways towards confusing Lomachenko early and may even allow Crolla to sneak away with a round or two in the early going.

At the end of the day, Lomachenko is the caliber of fighter where Crolla can come in and execute a perfect gameplan but still lose the fight. There’s a reason the odds are stacked so high against Crolla. However, the former champion is a gritty fighter and not easily finished. A fan favorite for being able to take incredible damage and dish it back, Crolla could find the crowd rallying behind him should he find an opening to land some big combinations early.

Lomachenko vs. Crolla airs Friday, April 12, on ESPN+. You can watch it for free by starting a free 7-day trial here.