Peter Wells gives his Anthony Crolla vs Ricky Burns preview for Boxing News and Views ahead of what promises to be a superb fight.

The M.E.N Arena was once the fortress upon which Ricky Hatton stood atop. Now the re-named Manchester Arena is becoming the stomping ground for Manchester’s latest favourite son, Anthony Crolla.

On Saturday, Crolla 31-6-3(13KO’s) faces another man, whose popularity soars beyond just the average fan favourite.

Ricky Burns has enjoyed nights where the whole of Glasgow has stood in unity with the Coatbridge man. And while he will be on away soil, he will still receive a warm welcome from home and visiting supporters alike.

The popular pair have both picked up world titles against the odds, with Crolla capturing the WBA belt at Lightweight, while Burns 41-6-1(14KO’s) became Scotland’s first ever three weight world champion, with title at Super Feather, Lightweight & Light Welter.

Now they each come into the ring off the back of humbling defeats at home. Each losing to leading fighters in their respective divisions.

The similarities between the pair are endless, with Burns and Crolla enjoying a recent revival in their careers, and there are also pieces from each other’s fight styles that are well comparable.

However, Burns is the bigger man, while Crolla possesses the better defence. The pair take their time to work into contests, while possessing high work rates.

Burns is the more aggressive boxer of the two, while Crolla looks to draw the lead and quickly counter, but the counters come in combinations, and not single pot shots.

For the victor, another shot at glory could very well be on the horizon, especially in a Light Welterweight division that has just been blown wide open. Undisputed champion, Terence Crawford is set to move up to Welterweight, leaving all four major belts vacant in a division that now lacks a standout star.

The likelihood is that Crolla starts the quicker of the two – he will acknowledge that Burns’ resilience and size will make it improbable that the veteran will be broken down, therefore an early lead could be paramount.

Meanwhile Ricky will be the stronger down the stretch – not just because Crolla may tire slightly, but with the contest becoming a battle on the inside, Burns will oust the physical control in the latter third of the fight.

At the start of what will be a thrilling contest, Crolla can work the body of Burns, while Burns gradually forces Crolla to unload more leather than he otherwise would like, in the opening 4 rounds.

But that 4 round lead could remain a crucial factor for Crolla as Burns still struggles to find his range as Crolla consistently peppers him on the way in.

After the halfway point, the pressure from the visitor will intensify as he forces Crolla’s back firmly onto the ropes. Crolla, never one to shy away from a war of attrition, will meet Burns head on as the two exchange to the crowd’s delight through rounds 7-10.

With both tired in the championship rounds, the judges will be split between the dogged determination and work rate of Burns and the cleaner, crisper work of Crolla.

But while those championship rounds will be tough to tally, they will not determine the outcome of the contest. Crolla will already have mustered up enough of a gap by the end of the 10th to safely pick up a unanimous decision win.