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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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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.

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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.

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ESPN+ Results: Crawford Wipes Out Horn


By: Sean Crose

The Jeff Horn-Terence Crawford card on ESPN+ began at 9:30 PM Eastern Standard Time live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday night as the 23-1-0 Jose Pedraza faced the 23-2 Antonio Moran for the WBO Latino Lightweight Title. The first few rounds of the bout made for an exciting, see-saw affair, as both men fought energetically and with aggresion. Yet Moran got his nose busted, a war wound that got to look quite ugly as the fight wore on.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account

There ended up being no stoppage. There wasn’t a knockdown to be found throughout the bout, either. It proved to be an entertaining match, though. Moran never gave up. Pedraza was simply stronger and was able to put his puches together better. Ultimately, Pedraza also proved to be the more energetic fighter as the bout wore on. The Puerto Rican ended up with the unanimous decision win and WBO Latino Lightweight Strap.

It was time for the main event. The 32-0 Crawford stepped into the ring favored to beat the 18-0-1 Horn, even though Horn was the WBO World Welterweight Champion and had won that title by besting the great Manny Pacquiao – albeit by a highly controversial decision. For Crawford entered the weekend widely regarded as one of the best practitioners in the entire sport. He might have been moving up in weight to face Horn, but it was Crawford who boxing’s writers and analysts expected to walk away with the victory.

Crawford tagged his man early in the first. Yet Horn tagged Crawford clean a moment later. Crawford, however, landed the cleaner, more effective punches throughout. Crawford landed a hard left to the body in the second and then started to pick up the pace. Horn, however, was tough and kept moving forward. Crawford began the third landing clean, though Horn was able to land clean himself. Crawford, however, was landing the better shots more frequently. The man from Nebraska was really starting to go to work.

Horn kept being a warrior in the fourth, but it appeared that he was being outclassed as the first third of the bout ended. The man did, however, have a good moment in the fifth, when he got Crawford against the ropes. Horn tried to play rough and got a warning from referee Robert Byrd. Crawford then physically rough housed Horn. It had become a one sided affair. By the midway point of the fight, Crawford was continuing to beat his man up.

One thing had to be said for Horn – the man was as rough and as brave as they came. At no point through the first seven rounds (which must have been gruelling for the man) did the champion give up or cease to fight with incredible heart. It simply didn’t matter, though. Crawford was simply far too skilled. And still, Horn kept fighting on, trying to land, trying to muscle his man around. It was to little avail. Crawford kept dominating.

Crawford exploded late in the eighth, causing his man to stumble. In fact, Horn came very close to hitting the canvas. The brutality continued through the ninth – where Horn finally went down. The champion got back up, but Crawford went right back to work and referee Robert Byrd steped in and stopped the fight.

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Three Possible Outcomes for the Horn vs Crawford Welterweight Showdown


By Eric Lunger

On paper, this June 9th clash from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas is a good fight. Jeff Horn is a confident and undefeated world champion making his second title defense. Confounding all doubters, he dethroned the fearsome hall-of-fame legend Manny Pacquiao in July of last year by resolutely sticking to his blue-collar game plan. Horn (18-0-1, 12 KOs) is bulldog tough and has never been stopped.

Terence “Bud” Crawford is a two-division world champion with an impressive professional resume, and he is looking to win a third championship in the always fascinating welterweight division. Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) is a formidable talent who moves brilliantly, lands punches accurately from all angles, and is as crafty and smart as they come.

Despite the matchup on paper, however, Jeff Horn has a big – perhaps impossible – bridge to cross. Here, in decreasing likelihood, are three scenarios for the fight, as I see it.

First, Crawford simply outclasses the Australian champ, opens a cut and we have a TKO in the fourth or fifth round. In this scenario, Crawford takes one round to figure out his range and his opponent’s movement, then he starts to set his traps and lure Horn in, and Horn does like to be the aggressive pressure fighter. This will play into Crawford’s strengths, which are hand speed, accuracy, and overall ring savvy. Once he has Horn hurt or cut, Crawford’s killer instinct will end the bout. Or, Horn will walk into something, à la Julius Indongo in Crawford’s last outing.

In our second scenario, Crawford wins on points by boxing from range, switching hands, and overall technical proficiency. The looping punches and hay-makers that Horn threw in the Corcoran fight will not be productive. Crawford is too slick defensively to be caught like that, and he is quick to punish mistakes. Horn has never faced anyone with Crawford’s movement, especially his in-and-out distance control. Horn will spend the night trying to establish his inside game, but Crawford’s footwork won’t let him. If Crawford can land punches from range, he will score points and most likely goad the proud Australian into opening up.

Third and least likely, Horn uses his size to bully and muscle Crawford, making it an ugly, phonebooth fight. The WBO champ can be formidable when he bulls forward with his chin tucked to his chest and throws blind hooks. Horn can also be reckless with his head, to be put it politely. But Crawford is no rookie, and he won’t fight inside unless on his terms. Even in this scenario, I don’t see Horn winning on points in front of a panel of American judges. He is going to have to do something special to break down and defeat a fighter of Terrence Crawford’s caliber. Unfortunately for Horn, the man from Omaha, Nebraska, is bridge too far.

Which of these scenarios, if any, will come true? We will see next Saturday night, live on ESPN+. How do you see the fight turning out? Please leave your comments below or continue the conversation on Twitter (@lungee77).

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Horn To Possibly Face Crawford in New York; Pacquiao Rumored to be on Card


By: Sean Crose

Although nothing has been made official yet, indications point to WBO world welterweight champion Jeff Horn facing his mandatory challenger, Terence Crawford, at the historic Madison Square Garden in the spring. What’s more, Manny Pacquiao may be making his ring return (it will be his first fight since losing to Horn via controversial decision last summer) on the same card. Fox Sports Australia reports that “Horn’s welterweight world title defense against unbeaten American Crawford is likely to be officially confirmed soon, but it won’t happen in Las Vegas as first planned.” What’s more, Fox claims “Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has revealed he’s looking to book Pacquiao’s much-anticipated return to the ring on the same card.”

Horn (18-0-1) stunned the world when judges awarded him a surprise decision win against Pacquiao in July. Although many – perhaps even most – felt Pacquiao won the fight, the judges’ decision, rendered in Horn’s hometown of Brisbane, made the now 29 year old Australian a world champion. Pacquiao afterwards returned to Filipino politics, where the iconic fighter works as a sitting senator. Meanwhile, Nebraska’s Crawford (32-0) unified the junior welterweight division by destroying the 22-0 Julian Indongo in August before announcing that he’d be moving a division up, to welterweight.

There had been word that Horn would face fellow Australian 48-8 Anthony Mundine in a homeland superbout, but a match with the more challenging Crawford clearly took precedent. Having won a single defense against 17-1 Gary Cochoran since besting Pacquiao, Horn will be fighting in the United States for the first time, if and when the bout with Crawford (and it’s New York City location) becomes official. Should the planned MSG fight become a reality, it will be Crawford’s third match in the Big Apple. As for Pacquiao, it’s unknown who his opponent would be.

There have been rumors that the fighter known as PacMan was willing to go down in weight to fight wunderkind Vasyl Lomachenko, or even cash in on a novelty bout with UFC star Conor McGregor. Neither of those possibilities (if they even were true possibilities) appear to have led anywhere, however, so it’s a bit up in the air as to who the legendary 59-7-2 multi-titlist will face next. With Crawford favored to best Horn, however, there is a belief that Arum, who promotes both Pacquiao and Crawford, might arrange for the two men to eventually clash.

The Madison Square Garden Horn-Crawford-Pacquiao card is expected to go down on April 14th.

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