By Elliot Foster (@FreelanceFoz)
Anthony Crolla made sure that Britain is one of the most talent laden islands in world boxing on Saturday.
The Manchester lightweight knocked out Darleys Pérez at the Manchester Arena to claim the WBA title and, in doing so, became the 10th current world champion from England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Crolla, who was cruelly denied a world belt back in July when his first fight with the aforementioned Colombian Pérez, 32, was called a draw, added his name to the long list of success stories from the United Kingdom.
But do you know who the other nine world champions are?
Jamie McDonnell has done things the hard way. The Doncaster man, a former British, Commonwealth and European ruler at 118lbs, won the vacant IBF crown in his home city, at his football team’s stadium, back in May, 2013, via a majority decision over Mexico’s Julio Ceja.
But after a confusing turn of events and an internal disagreement with then-mentor Dennis Hobson, McDonnell left the Sheffield-based promoter and, through a strange manoeuvre from somebody somewhere, was stripped of the world title.
He then went on to sign with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sport. After signing on the dotted line for the company with exclusivity to the coverage of boxing on Sky Sports, McDonnell had two warm-up fights after six months out –– against Bernard Inom and Abigail Medina, respectively –– before being handed a shot at the vacant WBA title against Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat of Thailand at Wembley Stadium.
And since stopping the then-31-year-old with a beautifully delivered left hook in round 10 of their fight, he has been riding on the crest of a wave.
McDonnell then went on to make the first defence of his title against Javier Chacon of Argentina, scoring a stoppage inside 10 stanzas once more, and has since been 12 rounds with Japan’s former WBO ruler Tomoki Kameda twice –– and beating him both times to keep hold of the belt.
Lee Haskins is the second most recent man to claim a global trinket, but much like Scott Quigg below him he was known as a world champion in unsatisfactory circumstances.
The Bristol bantamweight was upgraded to full champion by the America-based International Boxing Federation after his Las Vegas dream fell apart only last week.
Haskins, who stopped Japan’s Ryosuke Iwasa to become the interim champion back in June, had been on the strip preparing to face the holder, Randy Caballero, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center last weekend on the undercard of Saul Alvarez’ WBC middleweight title win over Miguel Cotto.
But Caballero, 25, missed the weight by a whopping five-and-a-half pounds at the scales, meaning that the fight was canned and the Californian was immediately stripped of his world title.
Due to Haskins being the interim champion in the lead-up to his big night under the lights, the IBF ruled that he would be elevated to full champion.
And although he has been in the ‘who needs him?’ club in the past, I’m sure plenty will place a target on the back of the 31-year-old.
Scott Quigg is the man who left school at 15 because he had a dream of becoming a boxing world champion.
The 27-year-old achieved that dream in 2013, albeit not in the way he would have wanted.
Quigg was given the WBA’s ‘regular’ title just days before he was set to contest the vacant title against Yoandris Salinas at London’s O2 Arena. He did fight the Cuban, but only kept hold of his belt by the skin of his teeth after their showdown was called a draw.
He has since had five more defences of the belt, including a sensational two-round stoppage of Kiko Martinez in Manchester last time out, and now goes into one of the biggest fights out there in the early part of next year: a unification clash with Carl Frampton.
‘The Jackal’ won the world title back in September, 2014, when he took former victim Kiko Martinez –– who he had beaten earlier in his career –– the distance before being awarded the crown after a points victory.
His first defence, at the Odyssey Arena in his hometown of Belfast, was a four-round stoppage over little known Chris Avalos.
But while that was quite straightforward, Frampton’s American debut in July was much more complex.
The 28-year-old was down twice in the opening round of his fight with Mexico’s Alejandro Gonzalez Jr., but came through via a unanimous decision after 12 rounds.
And now, his fans –– and fans of boxing worldwide –– will be treated to the unification fight with Scott Quigg, which will land on February 27 at Manchester Arena.
5) Lee Selby –– IBF featherweight champion –– 22-1 (8)
Lee Selby was handed a shot at the IBF title after winning a final eliminator.
The Barry stylist stopped Joel Brunker of Australia inside nine rounds before a fight with Evgeny Gradovich, the Russian champion who was making his fifth defence of the crown, was lined up for May 30 at London’s O2 Arena.
Selby won the title after Gradovich was stopped by the referee after sustaining a cut and then made his first defence earlier this autumn.
He outpointed veteran former title holder Fernando Montiel in his US debut in Phoenix, Arizona and is set for a return in early 2016.
Terry Flanagan was pitted against Mexico’s José Zepeda in July for the vacant title following the rise in weight by former holder Terence Crawford.
The Mancunian, who won the belt in his home city, was awarded the victory inside six minutes after the fight was called off after less than two rounds.
This was because co-challenger Zepeda, who was unbeaten in 23 going into the fight, dislocated his shoulder early in proceedings and was unable to continue.
Flanagan then felt like he had a point to prove going into his first defence against mandatory challenger Diego Magdaleno of the States last month.
And boy, oh, boy did he prove it…
The American was ousted inside two rounds in what was one of the best performances by a Brit in a world title fight for some time.
There was then talk of Flanagan defending his belt again before the end of the year –– at the Manchester Arena on December 19 –– against geographical rival Derry Mathews of Liverpool, but he wanted a rest and decided that he would return early next year.
And Mathews, who vacated his WBA interim title last week to move on to bigger and better things in the shape of a world title fight, is expected to be named as Flanagan’s next opponent.
Kell Brook won the world title on away soil.
The Sheffield star, who has made two defences of the title since August, 2014, beat Shawn Porter at the StubHub Center in Carson, California and it seemed that he then had the world at his feet.
But around a fortnight afterwards, he went on holiday with his family to Tenerife in Spain and, after being invited to a party, found himself on a hospital bed unsure of whether he would ever lace up a pair of gloves again.
Brook had been stabbed in the leg and spent the next six months recovering and getting back to full fitness in order to return to the ring.
But he came back in March this year and got rid of mandatory challenger Jo Jo Dan inside four rounds at the Sheffield Arena.
He then stopped Frankie Gavin of Birmingham inside six rounds in May and had been set to make his third defence in October, against Argentina’s Diego Chaves, before a rib injury ruled him out.
His promoter, Eddie Hearn, has now confirmed that he will return to defend his title again in the first quarter of the new year.
8) Liam Smith –– WBO super welterweight champion –– 21-0-1 (11)
Liam Smith won a vacant title only last month.
The Liverpool super welterweight, who many had said would be the first of the four fighting brothers to win a world title, stopped John Thompson inside seven rounds at the Manchester Arena.
Smith was lauded for his achievement and is now set to make his first defence next month, against Wythenshawe’s undefeated fighter Jimmy Kelly Jr., at the same venue.
Should Smith come through his next fight, it is reported that his first opponent for 2016 will be ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley.
James DeGale claimed the IBF super middleweight title with a points win over Andre Dirrell in Boston in May.
The Harlesden man, 29, was handed a shot at the vacant crown after winning a final eliminator against Brandon Gonzales at Wembley Stadium.
He will make his first defence in Canada –– against former title holder Lucian Bute –– on November 28 in Quebec, live on Sky Sports.