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Crolla gunning for Simpson as he aims for shot at Burns' world title

Greenock's John Simpson stands between Anthony Crolla and a possible world title shot against lightweight champion Ricky Burns, writes Jim Black.

Simpson, 30, will face Crolla's awesome punching power on the undercard of Burns' mandatory defence of his World Boxing Organisation title against the American Terence Crawford at the SECC in Glasgow on March 1.

On his previous outing in Scotland, Crolla, 27, from Manchester, destroyed Glasgow's Willie Limond in a showdown for the British lightweight title in November 2011.

He has since won the vacant WBO inter-continental title, beating Gavin Rees and Steven Foster in turn to emerge as a world title contender for a crack at Burns should the Coatbridge star be successful against Crawford.

Simpson, the former British and Commonwealth featherweight champion, boxed at lightweight for the first time in November, losing to Tommy Coyle in Hull on a stoppage.

Promoter Eddie Hearn said: "Anthony is gunning for a shot at Ricky later this year and a victory over Simpson and a ranked opponent on April 19 in Manchester will put him in prime position."

Anthony Joshua, the Olympic gold medallist, will also feature on the Glasgow bill, against Hector Avila, the experienced Argentine who took Dereck Chisora nine rounds. South Queensferry's Paul Appleby, the former British featherweight champion, has been matched with unbeaten Scott Cardle, brother of Raith Rovers winger Joe.

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