The Adaptable Terence Crawford
By: Sean Crose
Terence “Bud” Crawford is in a real fight this weekend (at least on paper) when he takes on Felix Diaz before HBO cameras at Madison Square Garden in a bout Home Box Office will air live Saturday night. Diaz is a talented enough threat to Crawford’s junior welterweight supremacy to make this weekend’s fight actually worthy of being on HBO, the pay cable network which has largely neglected boxing of late without having the courtesy to tell subscribers who might be fans why (though it must be stated that HBO very much remains active in the Pay Per View business). On this particular occasion, though, the network is getting it right.
Diaz, 19-1, first made his mark as an Olympic gold medalist at the 2008 Olympics in China. As a pro, he’s defeated the likes of Adrian Granados and Sammy Vasquez. His lone loss came by virtue of a controversial Majority Decision nod in the direction of Lamont Peterson back in 2015 which raised more than a few eyebrows. Now the man is getting his big chance and many inside the world of professional boxing feel he has a legitimate chance to upset Nebraska’s Crawford, a star in need of a star making fight.
Watching Diaz fight, it’s easy to see why so few analysts are willing to write him off come Saturday. Boasting a nearly perfect record, the native of the Dominican Republic utilizes space with fine effectiveness, throws a mean uppercut and knows the value of not letting an opponent know where the next shot is coming from. He’s also able to employ slick defensive skills when necessary. All these can prove to be frustrating for the 30-0 Crawford, who has never met an opponent he wasn’t eventually able to dominate.
It’s that word “eventually,” however, which is telling. As impressive as his record is, Crawford hasn’t always had an easy time of it in the ring. Yuriorkis Gamboa, for instance, performed brilliantly with Crawford for part of their 2016 bout. Viktor Postol, who fought Crawford last year, was also able to have his moments early on. Again, though, it’s that word “eventually” that pops up. For Crawford has always, at some point, been able to figure his opponent out, no matter how well that opponent may have previously been doing. Gamboa ended up being knocked out in stunning fashion, while Crawford went on to make easy work of Pistol.
And most products of the fight world seem to be thinking Diaz will ultimately succumb to Crawford, as well. The man from Omaha, simply put, finds a way. Crawford is not only willing to to let a round slide, a la Floyd Mayweather, in order to find his rhythm, he switches stances as proficiently as the great Marvin Hagler used to. For a fighter to beat Crawford, he must have far more than a plan A, or even a plan B. That fighter is going to have to be able to employ multiple strategies in the ring.
That’s something that’s far easier said than done.