By Sean Crose
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Terence Crawford is a pleasure to watch box. A pleasure. The dude’s simply poetry in motion. In fact, in a strange way, he reminds me of a very early-era Floyd Mayweather. He’s just got that certain something you notice in particular fighters before they explode onto the scene. If you want to see the difference between fighting and boxing, if you want to see why boxing is a sport and not just brawling, check out a Terence Crawford bout.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised if he loses in front of his home town crowd in Omaha this weekend. That’s right, I feel Yuriorkis Gamboa has a good – a very good – shot at beating Crawford on Saturday when the two men meet for Crawford’s WBO lightweight title. I may be in the minority, but I have reasons for thinking like I do.
For starters, Gamboa is exceedingly talented. He’s shown intense hand speed throughout his career, has displayed an ability to keep out of harm’s way and has the kind of background most fighters could only dream of. He likes to knock out opponents in order to excite fans, but will probably not risk it against the likes of Crawford. The Cuban immigrant will be in Omaha to win on Saturday, make no mistake about it.
That means he probably won’t allow himself to be knocked down, as he frequently has throughout his career, either. Gamboa’s going to be playing it smart on Saturday. At least he’s going to if he has his head on straight. Showmanship (as well as its attendant risks) will most likely be saved for another time.
Of course many, if not most, analysts see Gamboa as spoiled goods. It’s understandable why they feel that way. Gamboa has fought only sporadically in the last few years. What’s more, his life outside the ring has been chaotic, to put it mildly. A fight with Mikey Garcia has fallen through and the guy’s been arrested on some pretty serious charges.
Still, I just don’t see the man as being a has-been. Sure, he was probably faster as a featherweight and, yeah, he should have been fighting more in recent years, but I don’t see those things as disqualifiers. I’m expecting to see Gamboa in prime form on Saturday. This fight is more or less do or die as far as his superstar potential goes. Expect him to make the most of his opportunity.
Having said all that, I wouldn’t be surprised is Crawford walks away with the win, either. As I said, Crawford’s amazing. No matter how Saturday turns out, I’m expecting to see a lot more of the man in the future. Still, I feel Gamboa is being miscategorized as a has-been by many in media. It may end up being the case, but the truth is that no one will know until Saturday’s bout has entered the annals of boxing history.
A quick point about the fight itself – both these men deserve credit for challenging themselves. Both Crawford and Gamboa stand a serious chance of losing on Saturday. Yet they’re going to battle each other regardless. That’s saying a lot in this day and age. It’s saying a whole lot. Remember, Gamboa’s stepping into a fight he’s being picked to lose.
And Crawford? Crawford’s proving himself to be that rarest of modern boxers – a brave guy. First he risked having to taste the home cooking European judges frequently feed non-European fighters when he went to Scotland to beat Ricky Burns on Burns’ home turf. Now he’s facing someone who can most certainly derail his career. It’s that’s not worthy of kudos, I don’t know what is.
May the best man win on Saturday.