Anthony Crolla is planning a well-earned break after a tough couple of years in and out of the ring but would be happy to move up a division to face Ricky Burns on his return.
Crolla was unable to regain the WBA lightweight title he lost to Jorge Linares at the Manchester Arena six months ago after being outclassed in their rematch at the same venue.
It was the Mancunian’s fifth successive world title fight, though, the first of which came months after he was left with a fractured skull and a broken ankle after confronting burglars in December 2014.
That result against Darleys Perez ended in a controversial draw, but Crolla prevailed in a return bout and defended the belt against big-punching Ismael Barroso before his twin losses to Linares.
Despite those setbacks, the 30-year-old could next move up to light-welterweight to take on WBA titlist Burns. And while he would relish the prospect of an all-British showdown, his immediate priority is resting his body and mind.
“I’m going to have a little break with my family now,” the 30-year-old said. “I think I’ve had a pretty tough two years fight-wise and all the stuff that comes with it.
“I believe there will be plenty of options and plenty of fights out there for us and I still want to be involved in those big fights.
“Physically I feel strong. Light-welterweight – with the notice – I’d certainly go into it that’s for sure. Burns has come up from super-feather so that’s certainly an option. I would grow into it.
“I’m 30 years old but I don’t think I’m an old 30. Even though I’ve been in the hard fights, I live well and that certainly helps.”
Any potential clash seems to rest on Burns coming through his world title unification contest against IBF champion Julius Indongo in Glasgow next month.
While Eddie Hearn was happy to discuss a fight between two fighters he promotes, he was more reticent about Crolla taking on his former schoolmate and WBO titlist at 135lbs, Terry Flanagan.
“(Flanagan) is a lovely guy but it’s not the same level of draw,” Hearn said. “He is a champion and we’re currently not the champion but there are other options as well.
“There’s Ricky Burns unifying the division on April 15, I wouldn’t rule out moving up to light-welterweight to fight the winner of that fight either.”
A trilogy with Linares would almost certainly have been on the cards had Crolla triumphed on Saturday night, but the 31-year-old proved he is an elite fighter with a dazzling performance.
Crolla, who revealed he was troubled by a rib injury from the fourth round onwards, was repeatedly stung by the champion’s blurring hand speed which allowed him to land power combinations and counters almost at will.
Crolla showed tremendous courage to get to his feet after a peach of an uppercut dropped him to one knee in the seventh round and actually enjoyed his best moments in the eighth and ninth.
But it was Linares who landed the more eye-catching punches in the closing stages and deservedly walked away with his second unanimous points decision over Crolla.