Bud-ding Superstar of American boxing

By Cain Bradley on June 25, 2016
Bud-ding Superstar of American boxing
Bud Crawford showed his adaptability by going to war with Gamboa. (Naoki Fukuda)

Crawford perhaps has the most unique boxing toolkit in the world. His adaptability, even at the highest level is unmatched…

Terence Crawford can arguably be described as the leader of the new school of American boxer. Along with the likes of Errol Spence, Danny Garcia, the Charlo twins and Keith Thurman they are hoping to make an impression on the pound-for-pound rankings. Crawford is there in the majority of rankings with BoxRec ranking him eighth while The Ring have him ranked as high as six. He may lack the ability to be as much of a character as Floyd Mayweather and as popular in the mainstream media but his ability in the boxing ring is arguably just as impressive. Terence Crawford has never had it easy.

It was the rear windshield of a Brown ‘86 Cutlass Supreme that kept Terence alive when a group of rivals shot at his friends and him in 2008. Bud — as his Mother affectionately nicknamed him — grew up in Ohama. A family of boxers, he took up boxing aged seven. Despite showing great ability he was still involved in the crime and gangs that have plagued Omaha. It is one of the more dangerous cities in America for black men with a black homicide rate of 34.9 per 100,000 which was almost double the national rate. Unsurprisingly the city also struggles with high unemployment rates and for many sport is the only way out. Shaun Prater of the NFL is from a similar neighborhood. Terence describes growing up in Omaha as always being involved in fights. The incident in 2008 came from a dispute over territory that some of Crawford’s friends were involved in. Not long before going out, he had an argument with his Mum about his commitment to training.

Crawford was hit just behind his right ear by something that felt like a rock. It was a bullet and he was bleeding profusely. He had been shot at before but never hit. Bud had won money playing a dice game as he and his mates got into their car counting their winnings. After being shot, he drove himself to hospital where they explained that the rear windshield of the car had saved his life by expanding the bullet. This was a warning and one that Terence Crawford heeded. He believed God had given him a second chance and he was determined to use that chance to make his boxing work.

Crawford has been a strong amateur having won the 2006 United States Blue and Gold International Amateur Tournament. He had other success as well and has a good chance of being the American boxer at the 2008 Olympics. He lost to both Miguel Gonzalez and Sadam Ali, who won the spot, at the Olympic trials. Although unsure he believes he had about 70 fights an amateur, winning 60 of them. He split two fights with Danny Garcia and had three wins over Jesse Magdaleno. He turned professional following that Olympics and although he was unheralded, he started a strong winning streak. He notched up 19 wins without a great deal of notice in the boxing public. The first bout he had which made a wider audience take note was when he stepped out on short notice to light-welterweight to fight Breidis Prescott on HBO. The former WBO champion was looking to build himself back up and had only lost to boxers considered world class. Despite the boos which engulfed the fight, Crawford was superb. He dominated Prescott winning a wide unanimous decision which oozed class, especially defensively.

Following that win Crawford would have WBO eliminators. He dominated Alejandro Sanabria with precise shots and evasive defense en route to a big sixth round stoppage with a left hook. His final eliminator would be against the undefeated Andrey Klimov who was coming off a win over John Molina, and pitched a shutout where Molina had no handle on how to hit Crawford. His WBO lightweight title shot came against Ricky Burns, as he travelled to Glasgow. Crawford took some time in working out Burns but when he did, he quickly established superiority. Crawford won a comfortable bout, taking the WBO title home. His first defense would see him taking on unbeaten Cuban Olympic Champion, Yuriorkis Gamboa.  The early rounds were an intriguing chess match that Gamboa held a slight edge in. But Crawford showed his adaptability by going to war with Gamboa. He dropped the Cuban four times in an instant classic with the southpaw stance changing the fight.

He would complete an amazing year by taking on the man that most considered the number two lightweight, Raymundo Beltran. He showcased his speed and accuracy in winning a wide decision where he lost a combined two rounds on three scorecards. For his achievements in 2014 he was named Boxing Writers of America Association Boxer of the year. Crawford put on almost 20 pounds before fight night and along with struggles to make the lightweight limit, he saw this as reason to head to light welterweight. Crawford took his time to work out Thomas Dulorme but finished him quickly following a fake jab, straight right combination in the sixth. More impressively was him beating Dierry Jean by 10th round stoppage after dropping him three times. After being involved in the negotiations to box Manny Pacquiao he was passed over for a third fight with Timothy Bradley. With this he agreed to fight Hank Lundy with his precise punching and stopped him by opening up on the ropes.

Crawford perhaps has the most unique boxing toolkit in the world. His adaptability, even at the highest level is unmatched. Although a natural right hander, he tends to box a good deal of his fights in southpaw. (1:20 of round 3 v Gamboa)(round 2 v Lundy)(0:35 round 2 v Beltran.) He is so good in southpaw you almost wonder if that is the better stance. He can throw almost every punch from either stance and makes it look fluid (1:30 in round 2 v Beltran). The southpaw switch often comes as Crawford begins to work out timings and range. Against Gamboa, he uses it to disrupt the rhythm of the Cuban and keep Gamboa in front of him by making it hard to pivot left (1:30 in round 5 v Gamboa). He has an incredible jab, from both stance with nice variations. He often lands a quick, long jab (0:30 v Beltran) while he has a safer version which sees him get out the way of a potential return (1:35 in round 3 v Lundy). He also has a jab, primarily in southpaw, where he lands a strong jab from the centre of the ring (0:40 in round 4 v Gamboa).

At the start of his career he was often compared to Pernell Whittaker. High praise, indeed. Whittaker is probably the toughest boxer for anyone to replicate: but with Crawford it comes from his ability to avoid punches. His quick feet get him out of the way off shots and he also has the head movement to avoid attacks (1:05 round 3 v Lundy). A lot of his defensive work comes from his boxing intelligence. He knows how to marshal an opponent around the ring. His rear hand is held tight to his cheek and he uses little movements to make opponents miss. He sets traps and tempts his opponents into lunging in (2:40 round 1 v Beltran). He has a range of 70’ which he knows how to use. He is smooth and accurate and unrelenting if he thinks he has an opponent in trouble. This is probably best seen against Lundy but he does similar with Gamboa. The hook is probably his favourite shot when looking to finish an opponent and it loops around, quick and powerful. His ability to adapt and box how

Next up for Terence is a unification bout against Viktor Postol. For boxing fans it is probably the most anticipated bout so far this year. It speaks to the fact that Crawford does not just want an alphabet title but wants to dominate divisions. He showed this at lightweight beating the three best boxers within a calendar year. Postol showed his quality when defeating Lucas Matthysse by stoppage. Postol provides an interesting challenge for Crawford given his size and power. He will find it a lot harder to hit Crawford, who is incredibly elusive.  Expect to see Crawford using his southpaw jab which is the stronger jab. Crawford will use his elusiveness to take a comfortable decision. Jose Benavidez, Adrien Broner and Lucas Matthysse are all possible opponents for Crawford if he chooses to remain at the weight.

The marquee weight in boxing is still probably welterweight. It is hard to not see Crawford moving up and earning the greater money that you would expect to be available to him at a higher weight. So many fights are available for him at that weight. He shares a promoter with Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez which gives both bouts a chance. If he moves up, as expected, as WBO and WBC champion then he could be inserted into a high ranking for both organizations. This could see him in line for bouts with Danny Garcia and the winner of Kell Brook vs. Jesse Vargas. Other big fights at welterweight include Errol Spence, Shawn Porter, Amir Khan and Keith Thurman. Given his desire for big fights, you can expect to see a number of these fights if he keeps winning. A path which sees him fight Postol, Broner, Marquez, Garcia, Bradley and Thurman would be perhaps the most impressive route possible. He has the ability to win most of these fights and for the sake of boxing fans, let’s hope they happen.

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  1. Eric 05:23pm, 06/26/2016

    Had me a tan/sand ‘86 Cutlass Supreme back in the day. Loved the look of those cars back then.

  2. KB 09:19am, 06/25/2016

    First time I saw him, I was super impressed. now, even Buffet agrees with me.

    Pac needs to stay away from him. But Postol is no walk in the park. If TC gets by Postol, I’d love to see him put Broner out of his misery.

  3. Eric 07:41am, 06/25/2016

    Omaha’s sport franchise. I lived in Omaha for about 18 months, remember it being a pretty safe place back in the late ‘80’s. Granted, I didn’t live in a ghetto, and I had the experience of living and/or working in cities like Baltimore, Atlanta, Tampa, and New York. Hell, I’ve lived in cities not even half the size of Omaha, like Albany, Ga, which had far more crime than Omaha. Got to get back to the Cornhusker State again, great people.

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