ANTHONY CROLLA will make the maiden defence of his WBA world lightweight title against Ismael Barroso at the Manchester Arena on May 7.
He returns to the same arena he won the title in when he stopped Darleys Perez in five rounds last November.
Barroso earned his shot at Crolla by sending Kevin Mitchell into retirement with a fifth-round stoppage win a month later and Crolla insists he never intended to sidestep the dangerous Venezuelan.
“Some people thought I was going to try and dodge this fight but no, not the case. One, I could not dodge him because he’s my mandatory, and two, I won’t dodge anyone,” he told Boxing News.
“He is a big puncher and he’s certainly heavy-handed. I was impressed with the way he went about his work with Kev [Mitchell].
“Like I said on the night, I like Kev, he’s a top lad, he’s been a great fighter, but that wasn’t the same Kevin Mitchell who was in against [ Jorge] Linares or [Daniel] Estrada. But I might get in there on May 7 and discover Barroso is every bit as good as he looked.”
Details of the undercard will be announced next week.