By Josh Williams / Picture Courtesy of Huw Fairclough / TopClassBoxing
WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan (32-0 13KO) makes his fifth defence against Russian Petr Petrov (38-4-2 19KO) on April 8 at the Manchester Arena, and the Mancunian says he wants more success at lightweight before moving up.
Flanagan captured his world title against Jose Zepeda in July 2015, then followed it up with a brutal demolition of American Diego Magdaleno – the 27-year-old dropped Magdaleno three times in round two which forced the referee to step in.
With another of Manchester’s world-class lightweight’s announcing their next fight – Anthony Crolla confirmed his rematch with Jorge Linares on March 25 at the Manchester Arena for the WBA title, Flanagan admits he wants more glory at 135lbs before joining the light-welterweight’s.
“I want to unify the division before I move up, but first and foremost is get another title and we’ll move up if the opportunity comes,” he said.
“If it’s the right fight, we’ll happily step up.”
As talks were ongoing for a dustup with Crolla before he lost to Linares, Flanagan says he wasn’t best pleased when finding a rematch was set to take place, but hopes Crolla grinds out a result to reignite their potential matchup.
“We’ve been looking at that fight for a bit now,” Flanagan added. “I was a bit gutted when I heard there was a rematch clause because I think they’d have made the Linares fight in a heartbeat.
“I’ll come through this one, then [I want] the winner of that one next. I’d like it to be Crolla, because it’s a big Manchester showdown but if it’s Linares I’d like that fight also.”
Since blitzing Magdaleno on October 10, 2015, Flanagan has been on the road defending his WBO strap. A trip to Liverpool against Derry Matthews resulted in a points win, then two visits to Cardiff in the second part of 2016 – an under-par unanimous decision victory over Mzonke Fana and an eighth round stoppage of Orlando Cruz, left Flanagan longing for a defence back home.
Flanagan’s next challenge, Petr Petrov, is a 33-year-old Russian that’s fought mostly in Spain during his 17-year career – however, his last six fights have been contested in the U.S.
Since 2008, Petrov’s lost twice – a fourth round KO to Argentine warrior Marcos Maidana in 2011, and a points loss to current WBC lightweight champion Dejan Zlaticanin in 2013.
Flanagan is well aware of Petrov’s threat, and the WBO titleholder says it’s a much-needed challenge to get his teeth stuck into.
“It’s a fight we’ve been asking for, I think he’s ranked two with the WBO and he’s ranked one with the WBA, so he’s up there,” Flanagan said.
“It’s a fight to bite down on, work hard in the gym, work on stuff and then go out there and do the business in Manchester.
“It’s good to be back in front of my own fans which I need really to spur me on a bit. My last couple of performances have been a bit lacklustre. Every time I’ve fought in Manchester I’ve come out with a knockout decision.”