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London – Britain’s Anthony Crolla retained his World Boxing Association lightweight title with a seventh-round knockout of Ismael Barroso in Manchester on Saturday.

The big-hitting Venezuelan made an encouraging start to what was Crolla’s first defence of his world belt, with the Manchester-born boxer showing the signs of some heavy blows come the end of the fourth round.

But Crolla rallied in the next and he ended the contest in the seventh round when Barroso failed to beat the count after a powerful body shot dropped him onto his knees.

“This is my house and no one comes into it and takes what I’ve got,” Crolla told Sky Sports.

“He thought he was going to get me out of there in three rounds… but I’m improving and I’ve shown that tonight.

“He caught me with a few, I wasn’t hurt but I felt a few, he hit me as hard as I’ve been hit.

“But I just felt there was no way I could be denied. My whole team have pushed me and I’m in the best condition of my career. There was no way I was losing this title.”

Asked how Saturday’s victory compared to the stoppage defeat of Darleys Perez in November which won him the title, Crolla replied: “This might have topped it.

“These are the nights you come into boxing for — hopefully it’ll live long in the memories of the fans because it certainly will me.”

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