By Sean Crose
On a conference call once with Mike Tyson, I heard the heavyweight great refer to boxing as a “hurt business.” This remains quite true. For if this past weekend proved anything, it’s that a dominating performance trumps a merely adequate one. And dominant performances in the ring often mean dishing out a hurting.
There is no better example of the value of standout performances than Terrence Bud Crawford, the super lightweight titlist from Omaha who came to New York’s Madison Square Garden and defeated grizzled vet Hammering Hank Lundy in grand fashion Saturday night. After a surprisingly strong performance from the game Lundy in round one, Crawford started to do what he always does. He took control of the fight.
Indeed, it’s easy to see how Crawford could have pretty much cruised to a victory Saturday if he wanted to. Thing is, though, Crawford didn’t want to cruise. He wanted to win and win big. That’s why he polished Lundy off if very impressive fashion in the fifth round. As of this moment, people are once again speaking very highly of rising star Bud Crawford.
People are not speaking that highly of Carl Frampton, however. Like Crawford, Frampton won a televised fight in front of countless people this weekend. Unlike Crawford, however, Frampton didn’t win in impressive fashion. No, he simply did just enough to beat arch rival Scott Quigg in front of a completely sold out and thunderous English auditorium.
Unlike Crawford, Frampton is now the subject of speculation, as fans and analysts are starting to wonder if the man is really as good as many thought he was. The same goes for rising Puerto Rican star Felix Verdejo, who appeared on the same card as Crawford. Sure Verdejo won his fight against undefeated Brazilian upstart William Silva, but he didn’t win in grand fashion.
To be fair, Silva was probably better than most expected, but that doesn’t change the fact that Verdejo didn’t win in a style fans wanted or expected him to. It may come across as unfair but fighters generally have to rise to the occasion over and over again if they want to be great. And rising to the occasion means more than just winning – it means winning soundly, almost frighteningly at times.
Of course, a knockout isn’t always required. Nor is a stoppage. Dominance, however, is. And if a fighter isn’t dominating at a level he or she is expected to, then that fighter’s reputation starts to suffer. It’s been said by greater minds than this author’s that Danny Garcia does just enough to win and it hurts his star power. There’s some truth to that, especially when one looks at some of Garcia’s earlier, impressive victories.
The bottom line here is that nothing can be taken for granted in boxing. Big names lose. No names score big wins. The whole thing is part and parcel of the sport. Indeed, the uncertainty is something that makes boxing as great as it is. With that in mind, however, well known fighters have to be dominant. Otherwise they become Carl Framptons and Felix Verdejos in a world where Bud Crawfords tend to rule supreme.