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Terence Crawford: Boxing’s best kept secret?


By Kirk Jackson

This was not a flash in the pan. One of boxing’s best fighters for years to come made a bold statement this past weekend.

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Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank

Terence Crawford may have actually exceeded expectations, improving his record to 24-0 (17 KO’s) in a thrilling TKO victory over Yuriorkis Gamboa 23-1 (16 KO’s) in front of his hometown fans of Omaha, Nebraska.

Many spectators, may refer to this fight as a virtuoso performance from Crawford. And they’d be correct. The Omaha native displayed his poise, intelligence, heart, technique and versatility with this performance.

While many of us may be a “Prisoner of the moment,” let us not forget about the impressive display from Gamboa, who by the way was coming off a year of inactivity.

The Cuban showcased his grand boxing pedigree, dominating the first four rounds with his speed, accuracy and movement.

Despite the onslaught Gamboa would endure over the course of the next five rounds, his heart was on full display and showed on any given night he can beat any lightweight in the world aside from Crawford.

The fight itself was magnificent. A throw back fight, between two supremely talented fighters. Electric crowd, intense atmosphere, potentially fight of the year candidate.

This victory catapults Crawford into the pound for pound discussion. He still has much to prove, but from a skill standpoint, he is in a tier with only a few other elite fighters.

Lets not forget, Gamboa is a legend in the amateur ranks, an Olympic Medalist and former world champion. Was undefeated as a professional, rarely lost as an amateur.

Hardcore boxing fans have known about Crawford for a few years now. He put many on notice, when he took a fight against Breidis Prescott on short notice and utterly dominated him.

He followed that up with a comprehensive beat-down over WBO Lightweight Champion Ricky Burns on his home-turf, and now with his most riveting performance against Gamboa.

Crawford’s stock is at an all-time high right now, he just has to continue this wave of momentum and continue taking tough challenges.

Miguel Vazquez, Omar Figueroa, Raymundo Beltran, all present challenges in the lightweight division.

With Mikey Garcia, just south at super featherweight, a match-up that would feature two top tier, undefeated talents, if that fight were to ever come into fruition.

Crawford weighing in at 152 lbs. the night of the fight, the option of moving up to junior welterweight is definitely an option in the foreseeable future.

Crawford is the complete package as a fighter. He has the ability to switch back and forth from orthodox to southpaw stance seamlessly, great upper body movement displaying fluidity, pin-point accuracy, quick reflexes, decent pop with his punches, great stinging jab and most important he is calm under pressure.

His poise highlighted against Gamboa; losing the early rounds, walking through fast punches from Gamboa while still applying pressure and searching for the openings to attack. It’s like he walked through a firestorm without sweating.

He’s reminiscent of a young Floyd Mayweather in a sense. Yes they’re both fast, athletic, possess great reflexes and boxing instincts, although they do not necessarily share the same fighting style.

Like Mayweather early in his career, Crawford was regarded as a boxing talent only recognized by the hardcore boxing fans.

Regarded as the best fighter in his division, a serious threat for anybody in nearby weight divisions, capable of moving up and carrying his skills to the higher weight classes and is one of those high risk, low reward type of fighters.

He’s not a big enough star in the sport where he will draw in the money like a Manny Pacquiao or a Canelo Alavarez, and he’s too much of a risk to fight because he is so good.

Fighters like Brandon Rios, Adrien Broner and other young stars have the recognition Crawford seeks.

Like Mayweather early in his career, Crawford may struggle to get big fights and the recognition for his talents. But after his recent performance against Gamboa, the secret is out of the bag.

Eventually, things fell into place for Mayweather, as he finally received the recognition he craved along with the financial rewards he reaped with it.

All Terence is missing is that dance partner that will help him ascend to that level.

Time will tell whether the same fate awaits for Crawford, but as a fan of boxing, let’s just hope he can secure fights against great opposition going forward and we can continue to witness more exhilarating performances from this fighter.

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