Crawford vs Khan- Khan’s Road to Redemption or Another Reality Check?
By: Rahat Haque
2019 is turning out to be a very good year for boxing. Pacquiao showed he is here to stay after his victory over Broner. Keith Thurman made a comeback after a long layoff against Josesito Lopez, but he has shown enough vulnerability where it may convince some of the other top names in the division to get in the ring with him. After his victory over Ocampo, Errol Spence Jr is once again involved in a mega fight that is actually worth watching where no one is writing off the challenger just yet. Canelo, after fighting GGG twice, had accepted a much easier fight last December against the relatively inexperienced Rocky Fielding. But is once again involved in a legitimate scrap against one of the few tests left for him in Daniel Jacobs. But out of all the great fights that are lined up in 2019, the one to watch out for is Terence Crawford vs Amir Khan. Reason being, Khan never fails to entertain. With his style of boxing, he will always dazzle the opponent with a flurry of punches, but also leave his chin exposed and risk being knocked down or knocked out. Both of these occurrences happen in every Khan fight, where he bedazzles with speed, but also risks getting caught.
After all these years of seeing Khan go into fights with a shaky defense and susceptible chin, it is still frustratingly difficult to count him out. The fast hand speed foot speed combo style is tailor made for winning rounds, which he often does. Only time when he does not bag the rounds, is when he is hit flush with a power shot, leaving him vulnerable for further power shots. In the case of the Canelo fight, one left hook is all it took! But that was in 160. In 140 and 147, Khan usually takes the power shots well, but his legs give out, and he is left trying to grab the opponent or push them out using his forearms.
Before his loss against Danny Garcia, he was never perceived to be as much of a weak chinned opponent as he is now. His loss against Peterson was both close and controversial. No one judged him for that, and he was still one of the biggest names in boxing till then. But it was what happened versus Danny when he became the butt of all jokes. It should be noted that with the exception of the Canelo loss, Khan has not lost a fight till then! For a guy who has become the poster boy of weak chins, one would expect him to suffer another loss by now that was in either 140 or 147. The Canelo fight was a strategic low risk high reward fight. His fight against Crawford is Khan’s first major test since the Danny Garcia fight. A rematch with Danny Garcia, who himself has been taken down from his high horse in recent years with back-to-back losses, is also a future possibility. If victorious, it would be redemption for the former Olympic silver medalist.
But has he bitten off more than he can chew in terms of skills in choosing Terence Crawford? He did so versus Canelo, but that was in terms of weight and perhaps also skill, this is in terms of skill only. Certainly, he will not be able to use weight as an excuse this time as he has had five fights at 147 already, compared to Terence’s two. On the flipside, if victorious, nobody can say Terence was an easy opponent for Khan as they might with the Collazo and Alexander bouts, two of his most notable victorious after the Garcia slip up. This victory would put Khan’s name back in the list of an elite 147 fighters, a division which has improved even further despite Mayweather’s retirement! It can be called boxing’s flagship division, a praise once reserved for the heavyweight division.
In the welterweight division, you have three undefeated big names with outstanding resumes in Keith Thurman, Errol Spence Jr, and Terence Crawford. Then you also have the legendary Manny Pacquiao, and the very game Shawn Porter, who like Khan makes every fight entertaining, not with his hand speed but with his dogged work rate. Then you also have the very game Jessie Vargas, whose only two losses to date have been against Pacquiao and now retired Tim Bradley. Thus a victory in this division would mean everything for Khan. But this is a man who was dropped by Julio Diaz and in more recent times, Sammy Vargas. While the knockdown versus Diaz is understandable, as he is a battle-tested veteran with a style known for generating power, the knockdown he suffered versus Vargas was more questionable. Boxing fans all over the world are wondering, if Sammy Vargas was able to do that to Khan, what will Crawford do to him? It is safe to say that Crawford is more technical and ruthless than Vargas, who is still very much a Canadian name, and has not been tested in the world arena yet. We will get a better picture of how good Vargas really is when he takes on experienced Luiz Collazo in his next fight.
One of the reasons this fight is so exciting is that the stakes are so high for both fighters. Only fighter to knock Khan out at 147 was Garcia, and Terence believes his skills are far superior to the Philly man, so he fancies his chances to knock Khan out clean, or in the same fashion as Garcia where the referee will stop the fight after judging Khan’s inability to continue. But if Terence loses, his value as a fighter will take a hit for sure, and Khan would have laid out a blueprint on how to get the better off the Nebraska native. For Khan, it is his first step to redemption if he wins this one. Though many will argue that the Alexander and Collazo victories were redemption enough, the amount of clowning Khan had to face from media and fans alike after the Garcia bout will be in the back of his mind. He was the favorite in that fight, and perhaps was too overconfident. For Khan, this is the chance to erase all those mistakes he made, both mental and physical. As far he is concerned, he is probably treating this as his pathway to avenge his loss against Garcia. If Khan loses, there is no way Danny’s team will risk rematching someone they beat already. If he wins however, his increased value gives them reasons to rematch him on the self-belief that Danny can replicate his strategy and find success again. The excitement is palpable for this one! It is long wait until April 20th. The tension is rising!
April 20: Crawford-Khan Lands at Madison Square Garden
Start spreading the news. The year’s most anticipated welterweight showdown is headed to The World’s Most Famous Arena.
Terence “Bud” Crawford will defend his WBO welterweight world title against Amir “King” Khan on Saturday, April 20 at Madison Square Garden.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Matchroom Boxing and Khan Promotions, tickets for this world championship event go on sale Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 12 p.m. ET/9a.m. PT. Tickets priced at $606, $406, $306, $206, $106, $81, and $56 (including facility fees) can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster charge by phone (866-858-0008) and online at www.ticketmaster.com or www.MSG.com.
Undercard bouts and details on how fans will be able to access the pay-per-view event will be announced at a later date.
“I can’t wait to head back to New York City and Madison Square Garden for this fight with Amir Khan. The Garden is the perfect venue for a fight of this magnitude,” Crawford said. “I know that my fans will make the trip up to New York and I’ll have a ton of support when I step in to the ring. I expect Khan’s British fans to come out as well, and I believe we will have a packed house on April 20. It’s going to be a great fight so make sure to get your tickets early.”
“New York is undoubtedly one of my most favorite cities in the world, and it’s like a second home to me,” Khan said. “This is the biggest fight of my career against one of the world’s best in Terence Crawford, and Madison Square Garden is the perfect venue for a fight of this magnitude. It’s a short flight for my fans from the United Kingdom, and they will be coming over in droves to see this fantastic fight. I want to become a three-time world champion, and that is my primary motivation to win this fight.”
“Terence Crawford is one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, he always puts on a show at Madison Square Garden, and we’re excited New York fight fans will be able to see him fight again at The Garden on April 20,” said Joel Fisher, executive vice president, MSG Marquee Events. “This will be an action-packed fight between Crawford and Amir Khan, and The Garden is excited to host this great night of boxing.”
Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs), widely regarded as the world’s best fighter, is a three-weight world champion who has knocked out five consecutive opponents. A former undisputed 140-pound world champion, Crawford won the WBO welterweight title in June 2018 with a ninth-round stoppage of Jeff “The Hornet” Horn. He defended the belt in October with a 12th-round TKO over bitter rival Jose Benavidez Jr. in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. This will be Crawford’s second headlining appearance at the big arena at Madison Square Garden. In May 2017, he knocked out 2008 Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz in 10 rounds.
Khan (33-4, 20 KOs), a former unified world champion at 140 pounds, has won two in a row since his 2016 knockout loss to middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez. He is 4-0 in his career when fighting as a welterweight, including wins over former world champions Devon Alexander, Chris Algieri, and Luis Collazo. Khan headlined at Madison Square Garden once before when he defended his WBA 140-pound world title against Paulie Malignaggi at The Theater on May 15, 2010.
Crawford-Khan On For April 20th
By: Sean Crose
With the above words, Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions let the world know, via Twitter, that WBO welterweight champ Terence Crawford would indeed be facing off against the talented and well known Amir Khan on April 20th. The tweet was accompanied by a picture of both men squaring off and the hashtag #CrawfordKhan. Fans and analysts had expected the announcement to be made for at least several days, after it became clear that the two sides had reached an agreement.
The match will give Crawford a name opponent and Khan another chance at the glory that has eluded him over the years. The bout will be aired live on Pay Per View, courtesy ESPN, which has a deal with Top Rank. It has yet to be announced where the fight will take place. Crawford, who fights under Arum’s famous Top Rank Promotions banner, is widely regarded as one of the top fighters in the world. The fact that most known welterweights fight under rival Al Haymon’s PBC banner, however, has made it difficult for the Omaha, Nebraska native to face big name rivals. The announcement of the fight with Khan changes that.
England’s Khan, a former top Olympian, has long been known for his speed and gamesmanship inside the ring. He’s often come up short in big fights, however, and was avoided by Floyd Mayweather when the then pound for pound king instead decided to face Marcos Maidana in 2014. There had been talk that Khan would face countrymen and rival Kell Brook in a British superfight, but Khan opted for Crawford instead, presumably because a win over Crawford would establish him as one of the biggest names in the entire boxing business. Known for craving major fights, Khan has once again landed on a major pay per view event (he lost to Canelo Alvarez in a game but doomed Pay Per View broadcasted effort in 2016).
This will be ESPN’s first foray into the Pay Per View Market. British super promoter Eddie Hearn will also promote the fight on behalf of Khan, though he reportedly wishes that Khan would have faced his countryman Brook rather than Crawford. With a record of 33-4, Khan will clearly be the underdog in this fight. Still, the 34-0 Crawford has arguably not met anyone of Khan’s caliber at welterweight, where he has fought since unifying the junior welterweight titles in 2017 against Julius Indongo.
Crawford-Khan Expected To Be Announced At Jan. 15 London Presser
By Jake Donovan
It appears that Amir Khan has finally made his choice.
Weeks of speculation as to the next steps for the Brit as well as that of unbeaten pound-for-pound king and welterweight titlist Terence Crawford were finally answered on Friday. Top Rank, whom promotes Crawford, announced a major press conference to take place on Tuesday, January 15 in London.
Barring a curveball being thrown, the expectation is to reveal plans for an April 20 showdown between Crawford and Khan, which will likely headline an ESPN-distributed Pay-Per-View telecast.
Such details weren’t revealed in a cryptic press release sent through Top Rank’s press office, other than to confirm that both fighters as well as Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum and representatives from Matchroom Boxing—Khan’s promoter in the United Kingdom—will be on hand for the session.
For months, Khan appeared to be on a collision course with longtime domestic rival Kell Brook, although the two spent more time bickering through the media than in coming to terms for a long-awaited all-UK showdown.
Such a fight even was a major factor in Khan (33-4, 20KOs) signing a promotional pact with Matchroom Boxing earlier this year. He has fought twice under Matchroom’s banner, scoring wins over Phil Lo Greco and Samuel Vargas after having spent nearly two years sitting on a May ’16 knockout loss to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in Las Vegas.
From the time between his win over Vargas and Brook’s scheduled homecoming versus Michael Zerafa last December, it was believed that the two would eventually reach a deal for a super fight in the first half of 2019. Promoter Eddie Hearn was even hopeful that Khan would turn out for the Brook-Zerafa card, which landed on his 32nd birthday and with the idea of announcing their fight shortly after the main event.
Khan threw a major wrench into this plans, however, at the start of fight week. The 2008 United Kingdom Olympic Silver medalist and former 140-pound titlist dropped a bombshell in making public a lucrative offer from Top Rank to instead face Crawford.
All parties involved acknowledged that Khan stands to make more in a domestic dustup with Brook, but he liked the idea of challenging whom believes to be the very best boxer in the world. His thinking was the public appeal for a Brook fight will always be there, as such a showdown will carry a theme of unfinished business more than any surrounding relevance.
In getting Khan to mull over—and now seemingly agree to—such a fight, Crawford finally gets an opponent with a big name. The switch-hitting rising star from Omaha, Nebraska was lukewarm on the prospects of a proposed bout versus Luis Collazo, which was originally slated for March 23 at Madison Square Garden.
Collazo—a 37-year old Nuyorican and former welterweight titlist—had long ago agreed to such a fight, where he stood to make a hefty seven-figure payday for his services.
Crawford, on the other hand, never signed the bout agreement, instead reminding the Top Rank family of his desire for big fights moving forward. There’s no question a showdown with Khan carries the bigger event feel.
The proposed clash will mark the second welterweight title defense for Crawford (34-0, 25KOs), who is coming off of a 12th round stoppage of previously unbeaten Jose Benavidez last October. The bout was frowned upon by most observers—and even several members of Crawford’s inner circle—but only went to show the 31-year old’s drawing power.
The ESPN-televised clash served as the most watched boxing event of 2018, drawing well north of 2 million viewers. As for the in-ring result itself, the feat marked Crawford’s 5th straight stoppage victory, also running his record to 12-0 (9KOs) in title fights spanning three weight divisions.
Assuming that Tuesday’s press conference does in fact confirm a Crawford-Khan showdown, also expected to be part of the reveal is the destination for such a contest. New York’s Madison Square Garden was the originally targeted location for both the initially proposed March 23 date as well as April 20, although there remains a distinct possibility of the show landing in Las Vegas.
Amir Khan: Kell Brook or Terence Crawford next?
By: Waqas Ali
Former two-time world champion Amir ‘King’ Khan is on the loop hole for a potential clash with either American Terence Crawford or domestic rival Kell Brook.
Khan, 32, who last fought back in September against Samuel Vargas, has opted the probable option of going for Crawford more than Brook.
Crawford, whose record stands at 34 victories and zero defeats is a three-weight world titlist and has had two wins in the welterweight division already.
The same division Khan (33-4) has been fighting in for the past four and half years.
Speaking to Express Sport in early December, he stated: “We’ve negotiated a lot at the moment and we are close to getting it done.
“But there are other fights out there at the moment, like pound-for-pound champions, that is on the table for me.
“And I think that’s a fight which might never, ever come in my lifetime again. The pound-for-pound title is back in the welterweight division.
“It’s Crawford. Crawford has the pound-for-pound title and I’ve got that fight right in front of me, so I want to take that one. It’s either that or the Kell Brook fight.”
Both fighters are virtuous stylistics fighters but the questions that need to be asked are: Who would be the bigger draw and who is the bigger threat?
With Crawford, 31, aka ‘Bud’ he has a reach of 74” and a height of five feet 8 inches with a knockout ratio of 74%.
In his last 10 bouts, eight of them were KO/TKOs.
Crawford’s boxing style consist of speed, power and footwork. He uses those assets very well including loading up his combinations and keeping the distance at long range.
He also switches stances every now to provide activity on both angles of conventional and southpaw.
His resume of competitive competition include Ricky Burns, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Raymundo Beltran, Viktor Postol, Julius Indongo, and Jeff Horn.
Only fought once outside the United States, when defeating Ricky Burns for the WBO lightweight title in March 2014 in the UK.
Brook, 32, has a record of 38 wins and two losses. His reach stands at 69 inches and with a height of five foot nine.
The Pride of Sheffield’s style contains speed, agility and balance. His level of competition include Lovemore Ndou, Vyacheslav Senchenko & Shawn Porter. All three he won against.
Two high levelled competition he did lose to were Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence Jr.
With Porter however it was quite competitive and to Brook’s credit he utilised his jab well in order to keep the fight at distance and countered effectively.. Brook landed 158 of 441 punches – 36% connect rate.
After losing to Spence Jr at the welterweight division, Brook decided to move to junior middleweight where he felt was the right decision.
With a recent win over Michael Zefara, it raised the question of Brooks’ capability and style of wonder in the 154 weight division.
No doubt in anyone’s mind particularly the British fans, selecting Brook would be a huge pay-per-view draw. It could possibly land in one of the biggest domestics bouts in history.
Britain is no stranger when it comes to historical domestic clashes.
Michael Watson vs Nigel Benn
Chris Eubank vs Michael Watson 1 & 2
Chris Eubank vs Nigel Benn 1 & 2.
Chris Eubank vs Carl Thompson 1 & 2
Frank Bruno vs Lennox Lewis
Just to name a few.
Eddie Hearn, Brooks’ promoter, made it public that he had offered Khan £8m flat fee, plus an upside of the revenue to fight Brook.
The offer was made a week after Top Rank offered Khan £3.9m [$5 million] to face Crawford.
So by analysing the evidence upfront it would make sense to make the Brook fight happen. However with Crawford, Khan could potentially win the WBO belt from Crawford should the bout take place.
Therefore it is my belief that the Crawford is dubbed and rightfully should be as the bigger threat than Brook.
Crawford has more tools of weaponry against Brook and Khan, who has been down numerous times in his career.
Should Khan win, it would place him back in the spotlight of elite, considering the fact that Khan hasn’t won a title since early 2012 when the WBA awarded him the junior welterweight after Lamont Peterson tested positive for a banned substance.
Kell Brook Prepared To Move On As Khan Mulls Crawford Offer
By Jake Donovan
From the moment news leaked of a proposed opportunity to face unbeaten welterweight titlist Terence Crawford next March, many in the industry lauded Amir Khan for his career-long willingness to take on all comers.
However, you can count Kell Brook among the few not quite impressed with the Brit’s in-ring pursuits—and for several good reasons.
In a story first broken by the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail, Khan revealed that plans for his next superfight wouldn’t be that of a long awaited showdown with longtime in-country rival Brook but a trip to New York’s Madison Square Garden to face the reigning pound-for-pound king in Crawford. The news stings in more ways than one, as it came at the start of fight week for Brook, who faces Michael Zerefa this Saturday at home in Sheffield, England.
The show lands on Khan’s 32nd birthday, which promoter Eddie Hearn hoped to help the former 140-pound titlist celebrate with the reveal of a superfight with Brook finally occurring in 2019. However, Khan—while still considering the lucrative offer from Crawford’s promoter Bob Arum—instantly spoiled those plans with a doubly stinging announcement of his own, that he won’t be in attendance and is more likely to head back to the United States for his next fight.
“Fighting for a pound-for-pound title would be amazing,” Khan (33-4, 20KOs) told the Daily Mail on Monday of his desire to face Crawford over Brook. “To win it would be even better, so I think I’m in a position where I can get that fight with the pound-for-pound champion.
“The Brook fight is always going to be there. It’s for no title, whereas I’m getting offered a world title and the pound-for-pound title. So why not?”
His countryman is more than happy to explain.
“It’s not [going to be there],” Brook (37-2, 26KOs) insisted in a recent interview with BBC Sport. “I am going to go after the big names in America and the fights all the fans want. I am going to do my thing. I don’t need him at all.”
The offer on the table for Khan is reportedly a $5 million guarantee, with incentives as a showdown with Crawford—if finalized—would land on Pay-Per-View as distributed by ESPN. It would also mark a return to the site of Khan’s stateside debut, as his first U.S fight came in a May ’10 stoppage win over Paul Malignaggi at MSG Theatre (now the Hulu Theatre).
Khan has fought 10 times overall in the U.S., his last trip abroad coming in a 6th round knockout loss to middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in their May ’16 155-pound catchweight bout. He returned to the ring this past April, having won a pair of tune-up bouts atop shows promoted by Hearn with whom he joined forces earlier this year.
Their partnership was designed to lead to an eventual collision with Brook, but piecing together such an event has proven problematic, to say the least. The loss to Alvarez undoubtedly still resonates with Khan, who has demanded a rehydration clause be in place for a clash with Brook, a former welterweight titlist who is now campaigning in the super welterweight division.
Brook agreed to come down to welterweight for such a fight, but thus far has refused to commit to a rehydration cap. Khan has demanded a second-day weigh-in where neither boxer can gain more than 10 pounds from the contracted weight, whereas Brook’s position is that his coming down to the 147-pound limit is already a major concession.
It appeared as if both sides would find common ground in order to deliver good news this weekend. However, a window of opportunity for Khan to look elsewhere came when it was revealed by BoxingScene.com’s Keith Idec that Crawford’s reported March 23 MSG headliner versus Luis Collazo wasn’t quite finalized.
Collazo—a former welterweight titlist whom Khan dominated in a May ’14 clash in Las Vegas—had long ago agreed to terms to make the short trek from Brooklyn to MSG. Crawford and his team, on the other hand, had been vocal in demands for bigger fights, and seemed convinced that something better was out there.
Such desire prompted Top Rank—who’d previously sought the services of former two-division titlist Danny Garcia for Crawford—to go after Khan, who seemingly has no problem walking away from a far more lucrative grudge match with Brook.
Should he agree to terms to face Crawford, it could be his last guaranteed big fight.
“I would like to have announced our fight in the ring and give fans an early Christmas present,” revealed Brook, who seeks his second win following a welterweight title reign-ending knockout loss to Errol Spence last May. “But it does not look like it will happen. It looks like he has run off again.
“I have done everything in my powers for it to happen. It is him who has let the public down. (But) it’s not the end of the world and I will move on. I am more established at welterweight being world champion. I will be hunting these guys and the weight above at light middleweight.”
Somebody’s 0 Has Got to Go: The Top Three Fights Fans Want to See
By: Oliver McManus
“Somebody’s 0 has got to go”, it’s possibly the most used phrase in modern boxing. Mind you, if David Diamante has his way it will soon become “let’s nix a nil” but the premise remains the same, two unbeaten fighters putting their records on the line in, hopefully, guts-and-glory encounters.
Don’t get me wrong, a loss doesn’t make you a bad fighter and beating an unbeaten man doesn’t, equally, make you a star player in the sport. As we’ve seen recently there have been a fair few damp squibs when it comes to unbeaten vs unbeaten – Andrade vs Kautondokwa, anyone?
Nonetheless there are plenty of mouth-watering fights in prospect and these are three fights I want to see, at world level, where someone’s 0 has got to go…
Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk – Heavyweight
Where better place to kick off than in the heavyweight division? Anthony Joshua has had things pretty much his own way at the top of the game since winning his first world title – sanctioned by the IBF- in 2016. Since that capitulation of Charles Martin, Joshua has fought in six world title bouts and added the WBA, WBO and IBO straps to his collection.
With a touted fight against Deontay Wilder falling by the wayside – take whoever’s side you want on that thorny issue – Joshua is next out on April 13th, at Wembley, with an opponent yet to be scheduled in.
But I’ll be honest, the tag of undisputed aside, I’d much rather see AJ in with the man who holds all of the cruiserweight belts and, arguably, one of the best in the world pound for pound. Usyk seems to me, and many others, the toughest challenge that Joshua can face.
Technically he is sublime and he possesses the heavyweight power required to take Joshua into deep water but, let’s not forget, Usyk has amateur pedigree in the heavier division so it’s not like he’s inexperienced at the weight. Even having said that experience wouldn’t be an issue for someone of such natural quality as Usyk for his fight IQ and ring-ability transcends weight classes.
Coming off the back of a breezy fight against Tony Bellew in which, if we’re honest, he never looked out of control the natural step is for Usyk to go up to heavyweight. Joshua, we know, is searching for “legacy defining” fights and a bout against Oleksandr Usyk is about as big as they come.
The fight seems the most realistic, out of all the big heavyweight contests, with Eddie Hearn taking an active involvement in the promotion of the Ukrainian powerhouse so, fingers crossed, we could see a blockbuster event next year.
Winner of Errol Spence Jnr and Mikey Garcia vs Terence Crawford – Welterweight
Announced last week is the fight that, if we’re honest, made no real sense. Mikey Garcia was the man we all wanted to see fight Vasyl Lomachenko and Errol Spence was the champion looking to unify with Terrence Crawford.
The IBF Welterweight title will be on line come March 16th with Garcia looking to become a five weight champion in his 40th fight. A frighteningly skilled boxer, the California native has continually proved his credentials with a frightening knockout power.
In his last three fights Garcia has been extended the distance but has boxed with class throughout the 36 rounds, controlling the pace of the fight and manouvering his way out of danger with a comprehensive ease.
Errol Spence Jnr goes into the bout with an obvious weight advantage – fighting 12lbs heavier than the division in which Garcia actively holds a world title. 2 years the younger man, Spence burst onto the scene in 2016 with knockout victories over Chris Algieri and Leonard Bundu.
Having captured the IBF crown with a ferocious victory against Kell Brook, in Sheffield, the Texas-man has defended the belt twice in equally terrifying fashion. A non-stop work rate with continual punch output, if you let the champion unfurl his hands then you’re going to be in trouble.
And whilst the question of weight will loom over the bout until fight night, Garcia is a consummate professional and an outstanding athlete. For a man trying to prove his ability in the welterweight division, there could be no better way to silence the critics than claiming a world title in your first fight so that’s where Terence Crawford comes into play.
Errol Spence is the man that people wanted to see in a unification class with Bud, they would produce a scintillating fight. If Mikey Garcia is able to overcome such a challenge then he will have instantaneously justified getting a fight with the WBO champion.
All roads lead to unification, or so they… bring it on!
Artur Beterbiev vs Dmitry Bivol – Light Heavyweight
We’ll deal with the younger boxer first in Dmitry Bivol who ticked over towards the back of 2014 with a Bronze Medal at the 2008 Youth World Championships and a Gold Medal at the 2013 World Combat Games. A two time Russian national champion with a record of 268-15, his amateur pedigree was impressive but paled in comparison to his counterpart.
As a professional, though, the 27 year old really turned up the heat by claiming the first, major, belt of his career in just his fifth fight. The knockout power we all enjoy was evident from the first second of his debut but, with that, he’d find opponents looking to hold and just survive through the early phases. Not that that mattered, Bivol has always found ways of punishing his opponent.
Even when he has been stretched the distance – three times in 14 fights – the Kyrgyzstan-born man has always looked in complete control with an array of power punches as well as technical skill. Of course we’ll all remember his fierce one-punch knockout over, admittedly over-matched, Trent Broadhurst that saw Bivol claimed champion.
Successful defences against Sullivan Barrera and Isaac Chilemba have followed – he next fights Jean Pascal on the 24th – but surely the Russian will be eying up the options for unification come the turn of the year.
Beterbiev, on the other hand, turned pro in the middle of 2013 and initially built up a strong following in Canada – the elite amateur (World Champion & runner up, two-time European champion) had moved to Montreal in order to purse his professional ambitions.
At 5 and 0 he stepped up to face Tavoris Cloud – a former IBF champion – and dealt with the threat of the American, coming off a world title loss, in convincing fashion. The momentum from this bout seemed to follow as Beterbiev looked to fight better opponents at every opportunity possible.
A refreshing attitude of “fight who’s in front of me and knock them out” has ensured success with all thirteen of his wins coming via an early stoppage. A grizzly fighter, that’s the best way to describe it, Beterbiev never looks the fastest of opponents but, boy, does he have vicious punch power.
Typically standing with his hands at shoulder level, the 33 year old stands ready to pounce and is mature enough not to go out all-guns-blazing. The IBF champion won his title against Enrico Koelling last November and, in a fight that ended in the 12th, boxed patiently and calmly to do so.
Two unbeaten Russian powerhouses, slugging it out to unify light heavyweight world titles… what more could you ask for?
Spence-Crawford And The Long Road To Nowhere
By Jake Donovan
The last time the top two welterweights in boxing happened to meet up in the same basketball arena and talk shop, it eventually resulted in the most lucrative event in the sport’s history.
Then again, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao weren’t just the best two welterweights in the world but also the best pound-for-pound and were circling each other for more than five years by the time they happened to run into each other at a Jan. ’15 Miami Heat game.
A budding rivalry has only just begun between Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford, both of whom are current unbeaten welterweight titlists. They’ve exchanged pleasantries (read: insults) through social media, and for real this past Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, home to the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder.
It made for fun immediate reaction and a slew of clickbait headlines. Just don’t expect to lead to a head-on collision anytime soon—if ever at all.
The pair of elite boxers were on hand to take in Top Rank’s ESPN-televised show. Crawford is a regular ringside observer for his promoter’s events while not headlining his own shows.
Spence—who is advised by Al Haymon and fights under the Premier Boxing Champions banner on Showtime and now Fox prime—was in the house in support of fellow Dallas boxer Maurice Hooker, who defended his 140-pound title with a spectacular 7th round stoppage of Oklahoma City’s own Alex Saucedo.
While the aforementioned title fight was the main reason for the boxing world tuning in on Friday, it gave way to a much bigger sidebar, not unlike how Mayweather and Pacquiao meeting during halftime in South Beach is far more fondly recalled than the Heat eventually losing that night to the Milwaukee Bucks.
A major development worth noting from that Jan. ’15 entry was the fact that Mayweather and Pacquiao huddled up behind closed doors after the game, talking for more than an hour about the need for their long-awaited clash to finally become reality. In stark contrast, Friday’s run-in between Spence and Crawford ended with more of the same between the two— a lot of talk, but the realization that their careers will run in separate directions.
Spence practically admitted as such, not even bothering to bite his tongue in rattling off a potential 2019 campaign that won’t—or, frankly, doesn’t need to—include Crawford. The 2012 U.S. Olympian and reigning top welterweight is currently on course to face unbeaten four-division titlist Mikey Garcia next March at AT&T Stadium, home to the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.
With a win, the rest of Spence’s 2019 campaign—as he suggested—would put him in the ring with two more of the top welterweights on the PBC side of the street.
PBC and Fox recently rolled out their 1st quarter schedule on the free-to-air network and its regional cable affiliate FS1. Just about every welterweight of note under Haymon’s advisory banner is scheduled to appear in the first four months of 2019. Aside from Spence—who along with Garcia will headline a Pay-Per-View event for the first time in their respective careers—comes four more welterweight bouts of significance.
Keith Thurman will fight for the first time since March ’17, as he faces Josesito Lopez in late January live on Fox in primetime. A similar setting will be provided for recently crowned two-time welterweight titlist Shawn Porter, who defends versus mandatory challenger Yordenis Ugas on March 9, as does an April meet between Danny Garcia—whose lone two career losses have come versus Thurman and Porter—and Adrian Granados, while Lamont Peterson and Sergey Lipinets collide in late February on FS1 with an interim title at stake.
Outside of that deal will come a January 19 superfight between Pacquiao—who earlier this fall joined the PBC family after more than a decade with Top Rank—and Adrien Broner live on Showtime PPV from Las Vegas.
The bouts being presented in such a cluster are undoubtedly designed to mix and match the winners—and possibly even several of the losing fighters—later in the year, perhaps as early as the beginning of the summer season. Spence suggested that should he and Porter win their next fights, a unification clash would immediately follow.
From there would come a pairing that would help advance Spence from rising superstar to industry leader, as he is already being groomed for a late 2019 run-in with Pacquiao, assuming the two can win out.
While the sport is available more than ever in U,S. markets thanks to lucrative deals with Showtime, Fox, ESPN and sports streaming service DAZN, the downside is that we’re getting a lot of fights but not necessarily THE biggest fights we’d like to see. The lone exception in the past couple of years came in the form of two sensational middleweight championship fights between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, yet even that pairing coming after nearly two years of talk.
Given that take, boxing fans are already clamoring for Spence and Crawford to meet sooner rather than later in lieu of history repeating itself. The sport doesn’t need another long-term Mayweather-Pacquiao soap opera, yet already has one at the heavyweight level with unbeaten titlists Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder continuing to come up with endless ways to say “No” rather than just one way to say “Yes.”
The ugly truth, however, is that Spence can afford to disappoint boxing fans by not fighting Crawford as long as Haymon can keep his word of matching his stud welterweight against the rest of PBC’s top players in the division, particularly a Pacquiao superfight.
Top Rank can’t make the same promises to its superstar. It could produce a negative public perception of Crawford despite his clearly wanting the fight far more than his counterpart.
Another reason for Crawford sitting ringside on Friday was to scout his next likely opponent. On the undercard, fellow unbeaten Top Rank-promoted welterweight Egidijus Kavaliauskas stopped Roberto Arriaza in three rounds to solidify his place as Crawford’s opponent. It’s a solid matchup on paper, but not one that even remotely moves the needle.
The same sad state applies for any other in-house welterweight Top Rank can summon for its top client, who just re-inked with the Las Vegas based promotional outfit earlier this fall. Crawford and his team agreeing to stick with Top Rank while fully aware that all of his top completion fights under the PBC banner is a fact that boxing fans won’t forget as long as he’s stuck settling for the Jeff Horns and Jose Benavidez’s of the world.
No matter how often he calls out Spence or any other top PBC welterweight, no matter how many in-person or social media run-ins take place, anything short of such a fight materializing will ultimately hurt the fighter who clearly wants it more.
This much wasn’t at all lost on Spence when he and Crawford decided to engage in banter that immediately made the rounds. He doesn’t care if he’s portrayed as the bad guy in any of this, when the truth is that a year from how he’ll boast the far healthier welterweight résumé no matter how he’s mixed and matched in house—and even without facing his biggest threat.
Mayweather made a very similar blueprint work in his favor, while Pacquiao would suffer two losses and eventually run out of available challenges worth arousing public interest. It’s possible that Crawford can run the tables for years, but testing the public’s—and his own—patience is not a long-term plan anyone is willing to once again embrace.
Crawford Won’t Get Spence Until……
By Rich Mancuso
The boxing fan deserve this fight as do Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr.. This is asking the improbable with these obstacles of duel promotions and televised streaming rights. However a fight of this magnitude to unify portions of the welterweight titles and determine the pound-for-pound best is bound to happen.
Because it’s boxing, and the promotional fight has picked up a bit, they have to come to an agreement. Or do they?
But for this to happen there also needs to be unity with the respective promoters and of course the personnel who would be involved with networks and rights to televise this potential mega fight.
Photo Credit: Terence Crawford Twitter Account
And with boxing, a fight like this can be done. Then again it becomes a waiting game of back-and-forth and someone giving in with a late punch in the final round. With Top Rank and the PBC, obviously the main principals to deliver this also falls into the lines of boxing politics.
Boxing politics has never stopped Bob Arum and Top Rank from delivering. When the back-and-forth of politics concludes the fight is delivered. It has to be done and will be because Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. is as huge as Mayweather and Pacquiao was.
Perhaps this is bigger in magnitude because they are two champions, one with Top Rank and the other with the PBC, champions in the welterweight division. This elite division of welterweights that also generates the revenue and interest for boxing is shown in the ratings.
An this past Saturday, Terence Crawford, who could be the top pound-for-pound fighter in the business and Jose Benavidez Jr. established the highest rating boxing telecast on Broadcast and Cable television this year.
So now, it is time to deliver a fight that boxing needs. A fight that the boxing fan will demand. Delivering this fight, according to sources, and that back-and forth talk has commenced.
Moments after Crawford disposed Jose Benavidez Jr. in the final round Saturday night, his first defense of the WBO Welterweight title, Bob Arum was asked the questions. The fight boxing needs will have to wait but how long will it be?
Arum does have the leverage here because Crawford delivers the numbers for ESPN and the Hall of Fame promoter has the platform. Spence Jr. also has the numbers with Showtime and the PBC has that history of also delivering the numbers for the network seen in previous fights Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter opposing Danny Garcia for the Welterweight title.
In line with all of this, Tuesday Bob Arum made his pitch. Showtime, he said will soon be out of boxing just like HBO.
“So I’m predicting also that within the next year Showtime will be exiting from boxing because as great as they’ve been for boxing, they don’t belong,” he said. This was possibly the beginning of a bargaining point of view because Showtime is committed to continue their involvement with boxing, and the PBC continues to thrive with all the rumors to the contrary.
Arum is known to make some outrageous statements. This one, and only because he said Showtime is throwing more money into programming, does offer a line of truth. For the past few years it was HBO that lost the roster of fighters that put the network on top. But putting more of their budget into popular programs did boxing in for the network.
This is the Haves and Have Not of boxing. However, with Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. in the picture, it is about having the best fight for the boxing fan. Showtime and the PBC are moving along and so is Bob Arum and his deal with ESPN.
Just a matter of time and the fight will happen. Arum, in the meantime will go back-and-forth but is looking at other opponents for his champion. Similar to Mayweather and Pacquiao and how long it took, at some point next year this fight will be a reality.
And because this is boxing, it only works this way.
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.
No shade I don’t see nothing special about Crawford
— Gervonta Davis (@Gervontaa) October 14, 2018
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.
I’m all around better fighter than bud https://t.co/10augIlTkt
— Gervonta Davis (@Gervontaa) October 14, 2018
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.
— Terence Crawford (@budcrawford402) October 15, 2018
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.
Crawford-Benavidez Jr. ESPN-Headlined Telecast Most Watched Boxing Event of 2018
By Jake Donovan
While critics of unbeaten pound-for-pound king Terence Crawford continue to demand better opposition, his fans continue to relish his every move in the ring.
Apparently, both sides are tuning in whenever he fights.
Crawford’s latest in-ring conquest—a 12th round stoppage of previously unbeaten Jose Benavidez Jr. last Saturday—produced a massive ratings win for ESPN, with the two-hour broadcast as a whole averaging 2.245 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account
The event—which aired live in front of a sold out crowd of more than 13,300 at CHI Health Center in Crawford’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska—produced the second-most watched telecast of Top Rank’s boxing series on ESPN since returning to the network last July. Its debut—Jeff Horn’s controversial upset win over Manny Pacquiao—is the only show to outperform Saturday’s edition.
Even more impressive was the fact that it came on a crowded sports night that saw college football on ABC—a primetime matchup between Top 15 teams Wisconsin and Michigan (6.038 million viewers)—improve by more than 150% over the same slotted event one year ago. Crawford-Benavidez Jr. also competed against live coverage of Major League Baseball playoffs, which at 5.821 million viewers was within 10% of its lofty rating exactly 52 weeks ago.
The positioning of Saturday’s main event came with a strong college football lead-in of its own. Top-rated and defending champion Alabama’s rout of Missouri drew 3.758 million viewers in a game that ended early enough for ESPN to enjoy a rare on-time start for a primetime boxing event.
For Crawford, it’s more than a 230% increase from his previous ESPN primetime appearance, ironically in a far more significant bout. The undefeated switch hitter’s 3rd round knockout of Julius Indongo last August—which made him the first-ever four-belt champion in the history of the super lightweight division—averaged 965,000 viewers over the course of the telecast, with the bout itself averaging nearly 1.3 million viewers.
Specific ratings for each of Saturday’s two-bout telecast were not immediately available. The show also featured unbeaten featherweight Shakur Stevenson—a 2016 U.S. Olympian who earned the silver medal in the Rio Olympics—in a career-best 1st round knockout of Viorel Simion, who’d previously never been dropped or stopped.
According to an ESPN press release over the weekend, overnight ratings landed both legs of the doubleheader as the most watched boxing bouts of 2018. Crawford-Benavidez pulled in a healthy 1.8 overnight rating, slightly more than 80% above that of his pound-for-pound rival and promotional stablemate Vasyl Lomachenko, whose historic off-the-canvas knockout win over Jorge Linares this past May pulled a 1.0 overnight and just over 1 million viewers overall.
Saturday’s win marked the first successful defense of the welterweight title for Crawford (34-0, 25KOs), who won the belt in a 9th round stoppage of Horn this past June. That bout aired exclusively on ESPN+, a decision mandated by the ESPN brass that never seemed to sit well with Crawford and his team.
Ever the soldier, Crawford accepted the terms and ran through Horn in collecting a major title in his third weight class. His run as undisputed super lightweight champion was preceded by a 2014 Fighter of the Year-level campaign that bookended his stay as lightweight champion before moving up in weight.
The first defense of his welterweight title came with harsh pre-fight criticism, and for good reason. The 147-pound division is overflowing with top level talent, but Top Rank’s desire to keep the title defense in-house saw Crawford as high as a 33-1 favorite over Benavidez, a gifted amateur back in his day but who has managed to squander any positive momentum in the pro ranks.
Still, the previously unbeaten boxer from Phoenix, Ariz.—who held an interim title at 140 pounds—was praised for his brave return to the sport after being shot in his left leg in 2016. The 26-year old—whose younger brother David is a currently unbeaten super middleweight titlist—made his comeback earlier this year, a pre-Super Bowl event on ESPN in Corpus Christi, Texas for which Crawford was in attendance. Benavidez Jr. planted the seeds for a budding rivalry, getting into a heated exchange with Crawford and continuing the verbal onslaught throughout the year.
Benavidez Jr. appeared on the undercard of Crawford’s aforementioned win over Horn in Las Vegas this past June, scoring an 84-second knockout of previously unbeaten Frank Rojas. From there, the trash talk only increased, reaching a boiling point when the two landed in a brief violent eruption during Friday’s weigh-in.
To his credit, Benavidez Jr. gave a decent account of himself at least through the first half of Saturday’s main event, but was limited to taunting and absorbing over the final six rounds. Crawford finally decked his heated rival in the final minute of the fight, with an ensuing onslaught prompting referee Celestino Ruiz to stop the contest with just 18 seconds left.
The end result sparked a boisterous response from the partisan crowd on hand, which served as the largest attendance for any of Crawford’s five main events in this building and six overall title fights in his home state of Nebraska.
A hard-line stance is being taken by media members for Crawford’s 2019 campaign to include a mouthwatering showdown with fellow unbeaten welterweight titlist Errol Spence. Momentum for such a fight will only continue to build—much like Crawford’s fan base, as evidenced the numbers produced at the box office and in the ratings this past weekend.
Terence Crawford Answers Critics and Delivers Message with Thrilling Win
By Jake Donovan
On a Saturday where college football saw seven Top 25 teams all suffer shocking upsets—including four in the Top 10—boxing needed to do a lot better than simply go chalk.
As an unbeaten prizefighter whose home base is deep in football country, Terence Crawford had to understand that better than anyone else. It took more than 11 rounds for Nebraska’s one man pro sports franchise to deliver, but in the end Crawford gave the hometown fans in Omaha plenty to cheer about and sports outlets something better to write about than a routine title defense.
An explosive stoppage finish of Jose Benavidez Jr. with 18 seconds to go in their ESPN-televised headliner sent the sold-out crowd at CHI Health Center Omaha into a frenzy, a reaction par for the course whenever Crawford fights at home.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Twitter Account
That it nearly went the full 12-round distance would not have been a good look for the sport’s reigning pound-for-pound king, or for boxing in general.
It was already a rough day in the industry, with the second week of World Boxing Super Series Season Two offering a pair of unwatchable quarterfinal matchups from Russia and with ESPN’s headlining act coming with Crawford as a 33-1 favorite by the opening bell.
Rising featherweight prospect Shakur Stevenson did his part to break from the norm, exploding in a 1st round knockout over a normally durable Viorel Simion, who’d never previously been dropped. It set the stage for Crawford, and for much of the night proved to be a tough act to follow.
Crawford was never in any real danger of losing, although Benavidez Jr.—who’d traded harsh words with the unbeaten champ all week and nearly blows at Friday’s weigh-in—made things far too interesting through the first six rounds. In fact, the unbeaten challenger from Phoenix was ahead one card after five rounds and just one point down on another.
Much of the pre-fight talk around the industry focused less on this matchup and more on when Crawford would start facing welterweights “on the other side of the street” like Errol Spence Jr., Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, and Danny Garcia. To put it mildly, Crawford was expected to blow through Benavidez Jr.—who returned to the sport earlier this year after suffering a gun shot and came in to the bout with his right knee in a supporting brace—and send a message to the wolves starting to circle the corral.
The unbeaten switch-hitter finally began to pull away in the second half of the night, although still failing to manage any better than a solid boxing performance. It’s not enough when you are hailed as the best boxer in the world and defending against a perceived overmatched opponent.
Crawford sensed it as the bout wore on, perhaps never more than when his mother Debra shouted from ringside at the start of round 10 that he needed to end the fight. That moment wouldn’t come for another two rounds, and it even took for the 31-year old to ignore the theme of his corner’s instructions during the one-minute rest period, where he was told to play it safe and leave with the win—but to take his shot if he saw an opening.
The manner in which he fought the rounds suggested that Crawford wasn’t interested in waiting for an opening; he instead punched a hole through the wall.
After missing twice earlier in the round with right uppercuts, it was that very punch which functionally put an end to Benavidez’s brave stand. It produced the lone knockdown of the night, coming with less than a minute to go in the fight, but just enough time for Crawford to register his fight straight stoppage victory.
A flurry along the ropes left the normally elusive Benavidez Jr. out on his feet, leaving referee Celestine Ruiz no choice but to end the fight with 0:18 left on the clock.
Had Benavidez Jr. managed to bob and weave just long enough to hear the final bell, Crawford would’ve cruised to a landslide decision victory. He was up 107-102, 108-101 and an unacceptable 110-99 at the time of the stoppage, but on a night where—by his own admission—he had a hard time early on solving his opponent’s deceptively slick style.
Mind you, it’s not as if decision wins are commonplace for Crawford, who has now scored five straight stoppages and with nine of his 12 career title fights ending inside the distance. But going the full 12 rounds against a largely immobile opponent who’d never lived up to his full career promise wasn’t going to be good enough on this night.
It wasn’t going to be good enough for industry fans who continue to grow frustrated over the politics of the sport depriving the talent-rich welterweight division of the best fights.
It wasn’t going to be good enough in the eyes of the top PBC welterweights who—between lucrative network deals on Showtime and Fox prime—can continue to face each other, and now with former eight-division champ Manny Pacquiao sweetening the pot.
It certainly wasn’t going to be enough to sports fans in a crazed college football town are in dire need of a new hero, as the still winless Nebraska Cornhuskers (0-6) are off to their worst start in their 129-year history.
With that final offensive explosion, Crawford didn’t just do his job but showed off his ability to deviate from the norm. Serving as the hero to so many of those around him means everything, a feeling you can sense whenever he speaks to the outpouring of support he receives at home and every time he climbs the turnbuckle at fight’s end.
On a night when there was so much else to talk about in the sports world—the slew of college Football Top 25 upsets, Major League Baseball playoffs—Terence Crawford found a way in the end to once again keep boxing at the heart of discussion.
Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Results: Crawford and Stevenson Deliver Scintillating Knockouts
By: William Holmes
The CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska, the hometown of welterweight champion Terence Crawford, was the host cite for tonight’s Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card.
The main event of the night was between Terrance Crawford (33-0) and Jose Benavidez Jr. (27-0) for the WBO Welterweight Title.
But before the main event, undefeated former Olympian Shakur Stevenson (8-0) met Viorel Simion (21-2) in the junior lightweight division.
Stevenson, a southpaw, used a steady jab early in the first and was able to find his range early with his check right hook. Stevenson landed a crisp two punch combination that sent Simion down to the mat in the first half of the round. Simion got back to his feet but on wobbly legs, and Stevenson landed another combination on Simion who fell face forward again.
Simion got back to his feet again and had to try and withstand an onslaught from Stevenson. Stevenson landed another hard combination that ended with a hard left hook that sent Simion spinning to the ground again.
Simion arose on wobbly legs, and the referee waived off the fight as the round came to an end.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Twitter Account
Shakur Stevenson wins by TKO at 3:00 of the opening round.
Terence Crawford and Jose Benavidez Jr. were involved in a scuffle at the previous night’s weigh ins, and appeared to have some legitimate bad blood leading into the fight
Benavidez entered the ring first to a loud chorus of boos while Crawford had the support of the crowd behind him.
Both fighters came out in an orthodox stance with Benavidez finding some success early on walking Craword down behind his jab. Crawford switched to a southpaw stance before the end of the first.
Benavidez continued with his jab in the second round, but Crawford began to the target the body. Neither boxer took many risks in the second and could have been scored either way.
Crawford began to land his combination both to the body and head of Benavidez in the third round, but Benavidez’s straight right hand was finding it’s home in the fourth round and he briefly caught Crawford off balance as the round came to an end.
Crawford was landing from unique angles in the fifth but Benavidez was landing some stiff straight right hands in the sixth. Both of these rounds were close, though Benavidez looked like eh was beginning to tire.
Crawford had a strong seventh and eighth rounds as he was continuing to get hit less and less while landing at a progressively higher clip. Benavidez wasn’t able to come forward effectively and looked hampered by his right knee.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Twitter Account
Crawford looked like he was close to knocking Benavidez down in the ninth round and had Benavidez’s back to the ropes in the tenth. Benavidez attempted to lure Crawford into an exchange in the tenth and eleventh rounds with his back to the ropes, but when they did exchange Crawford looked like landed the better and more accurate punches.
Benavidez needed a knockout in the final round to win the bout and pressed forward in an attempt to finish the bout, but he got hit with a vicious right uppercut that sent him crashing to the mat in a violent fashion.
Benavidez somehow got back to his feet, but was hit with several hard combinations before the referee jumped in to stop the fight and award Crawford the TKO victory.
Terrance Crawford wins by TKO at 2:42 of the 12th round.
Jose Benavidez Jr. Has No Intentions To Lose
By: Rich Mancuso
Jose Benavidez Jr. has seen adversity out of the ring and the challenge to take the WBO Welterweight title from Terence Crawford will not be easy. Perhaps to those that take rankings serious the top pound-for-pound fighter in the business is Terence Crawford.
Benavidez Jr. is focused on changing that thinking about Crawford. Top three fighter or number one, the challenger does not care. Saturday night at the CHI Health Center in Omaha Nebraska, regardless of rankings, Benavidez Jr. has no intentions of leaving Crawford’s hometown without the title.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Twitter Account
Bob Arum of Top Rank, the promoter with rights to Crawford, always says the best fights are being delivered to fans on the ESPN televised platform. There is no debate about what is being delivered here and this is one of those fights, and partly because Jose Benavidez presents the challenge.
There is the height and reach advantage of Benavidez. There is also the anticipation of Terence Crawford and facing the toughest challenge of his title reign in this elite division of welterweight champions.
Insiders at Top Rank, and when asked, well they are skeptical because they are aware that Benavidez Jr. will not be easy. Basically it has nothing to do with their champion. This is a fight that will present the biggest challenge to date for Terence Crawford.
“Now he has grown into a man,” Arum said about Benavidez Jr. The often troubled and talented fighter has grown with Top Rank and Arum took him in at the age of 16.
There have been ups and downs with a fighter that never looks for attention. But those at Top Rank knew about the troubled past and they took a chance. Saturday night two of the best will put their differences aside and for Top Rank it means good business. This fight will be the center of attention from all perspectives.
“Things happen in life, good and bad,” Benavidez Jr. said Thursday afternoon. “I don’t try to use that as an excuse or anything. I know what I have to do.”
A leg with stitches above his right knee, that still bothers him. He survived and fought back from a bullet wound two years ago and that incident is still not clear. The question is, will Jose Benavidez Jr. survive 12-rounds with Terence Crawford?
“The leg, I block it out,” he said. “I just focus 110 percent. I know what we have to do. We train to win, and that’s what I am going to keep doing.”
There is no talk about looking ahead. This is a determined and hungry fighter and just looking at Terence Crawford, though a win would change the scope of this welterweight division. In fact, Arum would not discuss the options for both fighters and the focus is all about Saturday night.
But there is that concern of animosity as Benavidez Jr. made this personal. There were harsh words exchanged the day before at final workouts, and of course there is that call for the challenge to Terence Crawford.
“I don’t think Crawford is as good as people say,” said Benavidez Jr. “He is decent and not great. I came here to knock him out in his hometown. He is in a bigger weight division now and we have a lot more firepower than we ever had.”
And the firepower was evident. Those in the gym, in and out of the Benavidez Jr. camp, they saw that aggression and power. It was something they have never seen from the undefeated challenger but in boxing believe what you hear because the fighter has to convince the believers in the ring.
Yes, Benavidez Jr. is undefeated, But the opponent is Terence Crawford who can also come with that firepower and slowly get what he wants.
“Terence is the best fighter in the world,” says Brian McIntyre the trainer and manager of Crawford. He also said about Benavidez Jr. “He came here to fight hard which is okay with us.”
So there was never that disrespect from Terence Crawford or his team. This is all about a championship and one of prestige with that welterweight division always the talk in boxing circles. But hearing words from Benavidez Jr. and you wonder is there respect on the other end?
Or is this another way to promote a fight that has caught the interest of many? Sounds like a confident fighter and with the aggression, but this all about a championship and determination to get it Saturday night.
“Everyone is sleeping and soon they’re going to wake up and I’m going to beat his ass Saturday night,” Benavidez Jr. said. The reality can be a win and more of the elite will be in line to unify the titles.
This has always been the goal for Jose Benavidez Jr. to be in the ring with the best and the opportunity awaits. That troubled past will always be there and all he has to do is look and feel the pain from that wound to the leg.
Now it is close to reality. One punch or a decision in his favor and the pain will briefly go away. The troubled past is personal but being a champion leads to more opportunity.
Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Preview: Stevenson vs. Simion, Benavidez vs. Crawford
By: William Holmes
Top Rank Promotions will promote a card featuring arguably their best pound for pound fighter, Terence Crawford, in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska in the main event of an ESPN televised card.
Crawford will face fellow undefeated welterweight Jose Benavidez for Crawford’s WBO Welterweight title.
The co-main event of the night will be between former Olympian and high level prospect Shakur Stevenson and Viorel Simion in a junior lightweight bout.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account
The undercard will feature several intriguing fights, including a junior middleweight bout between Carlos Adames and Josh Conley, ad junior welterweight bout between Mike Alvarado and Robbie Cannon, and a female junior lightweight bout between Mikaela Mayer and Vanessa Bradford.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the evening.
Shakur Stevenson (8-0) vs. Viorel Simion (21-2); Junior Lightweights
Shakur Stevenson is one of Top Rank’s most coveted prospects, and he was a silver medalist in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. On paper he’ll be facing the toughest test of his career, Viorel Simion, a former Olympic participant in the 2004 Summer games.
Stevenson is still very young and will be sixteen years younger than his 37 year old opponent. He will also have a two inch height advantage.
Stevenson, a Newark, New Jersey native, has won three of his past five fights by stoppage and has never faced anyone with a losing record. He only has four stoppage wins on his resume, but has been very active since turning pro. He fought four times in 2017 and has already fought four times in 2018.
Simion, from Romania, has nine KO wins on his resume and isn’t known for his power. This Romanian boxer lost the two fights where he stepped up in competition, to Scott Quigg and Lee Selby. Simion has fought mainly in Eurpe and fought once in 2017 and twice in 2016.
Stevenson has defeated the likes of Carlos Ruiz, Aelio Mesquita, Roxberg Patrick Riley, and Juan Tapia. He also went 2-0 n the World Series of Boxing.
Simion has defeated the likes of Andoni Gago, Alexander Miskirtchian, and Ryan Sermona. The few times he stepped up his level of competition he was soundly beat.
This is a bout that Stevenson should win comfortably, but Simion is a good experienced boxer to gauge where Stevenson currently is in his professional development.
Terence Crawford (33-0) vs. Jose Benavidez Jr.(27-0); WBO Welterweight Title
Terence Crawford will be stepping into the ring with a younger, taller, and longer undefeated challenger on Saturday.
Crawford is still in his prime, but Benavidez is five years younger than him. Benavidez will also have about a six inch height advantage and a three inch reach advantage.
Crawford does appear to have an edge in power. He has stopped twenty four of his opponents, and seven of his past eight fights were stoppage victories. Benavidez only has eighteen stoppage victories, and three of his past five fights were by way of stoppage.
Both boxers had relatively successful amateur careers. Crawford was a former PAL National Champion while Benavidez was a former US National Golden Gloves Champion.
Both boxers have been fairly active in 2018 but Crawford has been the more active fighter of the two since 2016. Crawford fought once in 2018, twice in 2017, and three times in 2016. Benavidez fought twice in 2018 and only once 2016.
Benavidez was also shot in 2016 and missed all of 2017 as a result.
Crawford has soundly beaten every man he has faced so far. He has beaten the likes of Jeff Horn, Julius Indongo, Felix Diaz, John Molina Jr., Viktor Postol, Hank Lundy, Dierry jean, Thomas Dulrome, Raymundo Beltran, Yoriorkis Gamboa, and Ricky Burns.
Benavidez does not have the professional resume of Crawford, but he has beaten some decent boxers. He has defeated the likes of Frank Rojas, Matthew Strode, Francisco Santana, Jorge Paez Jr., Mauricio Herrera, and Pavel Miranda.
However, his win against Herrera is disputed by many who thought Herrera deserved the decision in that bout.
This is a major, major step up in competition for Benavidez. Unfortunately for him, he has never faced anyone near the level of Terrance Crawford and it is this writer’s opinion that he will be in over his head on Saturday night.