Terence Crawford is Special at Welterweight


By: Kirk Jackson

Terence “Bud” Crawford 34-0 (25 KO’s) successfully defended his WBO welterweight title over the weekend, stopping the Jose Benavidez 27-1 (18 KO’s) with a series of blistering right hands, to remain undefeated and on top of the pound-for-pound standings.
Heading into the fight, Benavidez questioned if Crawford was a special fighter. In spite of the overall-effective outcome and exhilarating knock-out finish, Crawford drew criticism from some observers watching the fight on ESPN.

Current WBA junior lightweight champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis is not shy when offering his opinion on fellow contemporaries nor is he bashful regarding his boxing abilities.

The criticism from Davis or other spectators is fine with Crawford. Doubt only serves as additional fuel for Crawford to sustain the level of excellence exhibited during his professional career. A level of excellence, leading to 34 victories, seven world titles across three weight divisions and the distinction as one of boxing’s best fighters contrary to the belief to some of his contemporaries.

Regarding Crawford’s recent performance, was it his best to date? No, but not a bad performance everything considered.

Benavidez lacks the mainstream notoriety, but he may actually be underrated. He is the youngest Golden Gloves champion at 16, sparred with Manny Pacquiao, Timothy Bradley, Shane Mosley and Amir Khan – all world champions and all before he turned 18.

Predicting and comparing the fighters on paper, Crawford was regarded as the more skilled fighter with the superior resume heading into the match-up. Obviously Crawford is regarded as a Tier A fighter and many thought of Benavidez as a grade below.

However, Benavidez is the bigger fighter, larger man, standing slightly over 6’0” and having competed above the welterweight limit. A sentiment echoed by the Mayweather family is “Skills pay the bills,” but size matters in boxing.

There are legitimate questions surrounding Crawford’s size in the division. The bout against Benavidez was his second fight at 147 lbs., while his first was against much larger specimen Jeff Horn.

In the past Benavidez competed at 154 pounds. The size difference regarding height was obvious as Benavidez held a four-inch height advantage.

The characteristic a special fighter displays while faced with physical disadvantages is the ability to use the most important muscle, the brain. Crawford used his high boxing IQ and his physical advantages of hand and foot speed to offset the size disadvantage.

The physical part of Crawford’s excellence was changing levels, providing different looks with his lateral movement, occasionally switching stances, probing with his jab to measure and establish proper punching distance, properly positioning his lead right foot outside of Benavidez’s lead left foot and consistently delivering hard shots to the body. Crawford’s endurance was excellence as he never appeared tired.

The mental aspect of Crawford’s brilliance was the ability to adjust to whatever Benavidez threw at Crawford, along with maintaining discipline to fight the proper fight and not over commit on punches in spite of the emotional trash talk and hostility between camps.

One performance good or bad does not define a fighter, albeit this was a good performance from Bud.

Contrary to criticism from Davis, it’s hard to question Crawford’s greatness; especially as he has often drawn legit comparisons to Marvin Hagler and Pernell Whitaker respectively.

The question will be if Crawford can secure bigger fights against the elite names of the division. Names such as Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia and Errol Spence.

The problem often discussed in recent months is the varying networks and promoters for these fighters. Crawford is with Bob Arum under Top Rank Promotions finding on ESPN, while Thurman, Spence, Garcia or any other elite welterweight is with Al Haymon fighting across different networks.

Crawford wants these fights, Arum says he ready to make these fights, but that remains to be witnessed.

“Al Haymon and Bob could sit down and talk to each other about it,” Crawford explained. “That’s it. I want all them [welterweight champions]. I’ve been saying it. How bad do you want me to say something over and over and over. I said what I said and that’s it.”

If these fights manifest, we’ll find out if Crawford can utilize his unique abilities and emerge victorious once the dust settles.

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