Crawford Hammers Horn

By Caryn A. Tate on June 9, 2018
Crawford Hammers Horn
Crawford boxed Horn from the outside, landing clean and precise shots. (Getty Images)

Horn never seemed to stop trying. He just didn’t know what to do to mitigate Crawford’s skills. It was a display of two fighters at different levels…

On Saturday night, from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Terence “Bud” Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) challenged WBO welterweight world champion Jeff “The Hornet” Horn (18-1-1, 12 KOs) for the title.

On Friday at the weigh in, Crawford weighed in at 146.5, half a pound under the welterweight limit. Horn weighed in at 148 pounds, then stripped down to weigh 147.5. After the two hours’ additional time, Horn did make the weight, but looked severely weight drained. Oddly, Horn’s trainer began making claims that the promoter, Top Rank, had somehow rigged the scales so his fighter didn’t make weight.

Prior to the main event, former world champion-turned-commentator Timothy Bradley told the story about how he first met Crawford. In 2011, Bradley was preparing for his fight with Devon Alexander and sparred with Crawford. Tim laughingly said, “It was like I was in the ring with the Black Panther!” He asked his mysterious sparring partner who he was, and the response was, “I’m Terence Crawford.”

“Bud” went on to effectively clean out the lightweight division and defeated competitors such as highly skilled Olympic gold medalist Yuriorkis Gamboa. Crawford moved up to junior welterweight and completely dominated that weight class, becoming the undisputed world champion at 140. Versus Jeff Horn, the Omaha native took his first dip into the welterweight waters at 147.

As I stated earlier in the week, there was a clear skill difference between the two fighters coming in. Horn’s chief strength is his physicality and his sheer size. He likes to come in with his head and doesn’t display much defense. He typically relies on his larger size and bullying style to overcome his opponents. His biggest win to date was a contentious decision over Manny Pacquiao last year in Australia. Prior to this bout, Horn had never fought outside Australia as a professional.

Commentator Joe Tessitore said at one point during the bout that Horn’s trainer had stated his fighter has a granite chin. Terence Crawford chipped away at it tonight.

From round one, Crawford began landing hard, sharp, and clean punches to Horn’s unprotected head. He employed skillful and continuous movement, keeping Horn off balance and preventing him from planting his feet to charge effectively. But the champion did what he does, periodically choosing his spots and charging in like a bull, but didn’t do so in a schooled manner, so he got caught a lot as he came in. To Horn’s credit, he did occasionally catch Crawford on his way inside, usually with a right hand.

But it was clear from the beginning that Crawford was the stronger fighter. Many speculated whether Bud could hang at welterweight, whether he is physically big enough, whether this third weight class would prove to be too much for him. It was obvious tonight that is definitely not the case. When Horn made his way inside Crawford’s two-inch longer reach, Crawford would grab Horn, not allowing him to use his head. Bud seemed to have no problem physically forcing Horn backward, as if reminding him that he was not the stronger fighter after all.

In round four, Horn was cut over the left eye, likely from a punch since Crawford was deftly avoiding head butts—I’m sure his team prepared specifically for that.

The rounds continued in the same fashion. Crawford out-boxed Horn from the outside, landing clean and precise shots. If Horn did get inside, he wasn’t able to utilize his usual rough or even arguably dirty tactics like elbows or head clashes that so often happen in his bouts. And that was due to Crawford’s immense ring intelligence.

Horn never seemed to stop trying. He just didn’t know what to do to mitigate Crawford’s skills. It was a display of two fighters at different levels.

“Too slick, too smart for that,” Bradley stated in round six regarding Crawford’s response to Horn’s tactics. He explained “broken rhythm” which “Bud” was consistently using to good effect—he changed up his movement, his timing, and moved in and out at different rhythms to throw Horn off.

Later in six, Horn sustained another cut, this one over his right eye on the inside, towards his nose. He had been breathing through his mouth since round three, and now he still was, but also looked as fatigued as he did at the end of the Pacquiao fight, after 12 rounds.

In round eight, Crawford’s investments in precise punching, both upstairs and down, began to pay dividends. He hurt Horn tremendously with a flurry of punches and the champion didn’t react well. But the bell saved him.

But one minute wasn’t enough time for Horn to recover. Crawford took back over and dropped Horn down in round nine with a flurry of shots, but it was really the right hook that did the most damage. At this point, Horn was clearly in survival mode. He tried to hold but Crawford didn’t allow it. Down went the champion.

He rose, but it was just to more vicious punches from Crawford. Horn was battered against the ropes, looking like a beaten fighter. His nose was swelling towards the top, looking broken. Referee Robert Byrd stepped in and waved it off.

After the contest, Andre Ward delivered a much-needed reminder to young fighters. Remember, this came after the commentators on this very fight (except for Bradley) were praising Horn for having a “fan friendly style,” supposedly because he takes punches. Said Ward, “Learn the art of the skill. You can have a fan friendly style without taking punishment and put on a performance like ‘Bud’ Crawford did tonight. And if you hear anything different, that’s fake news.”

Following the bout, Horn gave credit to his opponent. “I thought I could beat him coming forward. Well done, Terence Crawford.” About the future, he said, “We’ll just rebuild from here.”

Newly crowned WBO welterweight world champion Crawford said, “I want the other champions. I want the big fights.” He looked at his promoter, Bob Arum. “Bob, let’s make it happen.”

We all want the big fights, Bud. A match-up between Crawford and IBF world champion Errol Spence, should Spence defeat his mandatory challenger Carlos Ocampo next weekend, would be an incredible fight.

Earlier in the evening, WBO Latino title holder Antonio Moran (23-3, 16 KOs) faced Jose Pedraza (24-1, 12 KOs) in a 10-round contest. While both fighters started out relatively carefully, it quickly became a case of Moran displaying his usual volume punching style, with Pedraza utilizing economy, sharpness, and solid defense to pick his spots.

By round two, a cut had opened up on the bridge of Moran’s nose. Despite his high activity level, Moran’s defense was lacking and Pedraza lived up to his “Sniper” nickname by landing with accuracy. Most of Moran’s shots tended to land on the gloves or arms.

The cut worsened. Blood streamed down Moran’s face. One of the positive changes Top Rank made to their ESPN+ broadcast tonight was that periodically, between rounds, commentator Bernardo Osuna would speak with legendary cut man Jacob “Stitch” Duran for his insight into the cut, how difficult it was to stop the bleeding based on the location (hint: when there’s a lot of cartilage, it’s a lot harder to curtail), and why it was good referee Russell Mora hadn’t stopped the fight (the blood wasn’t interfering with Moran’s sight, and could you imagine the crowd’s displeasure if the fight were stopped because of some blood?). It’s always refreshing to hear from experts who make their living in the sport, and boxing needs more of this sort of expert insight during broadcasts.

As the rounds progressed, Pedraza seemed sharper still, while Moran seemed troubled both by Pedraza’s accuracy and defense and the increasing amount of body work the Puerto Rican Pedraza exhibited. By round eight, the gap widened further and it looked like the end for Moran, who began taking more clean power hands to the face. It perhaps should have been stopped between rounds eight and nine.

But Moran’s corner allowed it to continue. The champion never lacked for heart but there was a difference in the level of the two fighters.

All judges had it 96-94 for Pedraza. Hard to understand how the judges had it that close.

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  1. Koolz 11:38am, 06/10/2018

    It played out exactly as I knew it would.
    Horn Coulnd’t head lock, trip, push a fight as their back is turned and he had to box, and in doing so go his ass handed to him.

  2. Ollie Downtown Brown 06:16am, 06/10/2018

    Looks like Crawford is trying to earn his place in Omaha sports history, which is lined with fighting names like Ron Stander (Council Bluffs Butcher), Dicky Ryan, Bruce “The Mouse” Strauss, and UFC alternate and eventual winner Steve Jennum. Jennum, the Omaha police officer who stepped up after Ken Shamrock withdrew from the final with an injury and beat a grizzled Harold Howard. Howard reminds me of the guy that chased me out of the Touch Of Class Lounge in Omaha after catching me grinding with his woman on the dance floor. I can still hear those words after all these years, “So this is the bastard you dumped me for?” That was a huge, enraged, corn fed Nebraska boy, this kid wasn’t about to mess with.  Aah, sweet memories. Did you know that Omaha is the birthplace of President Leslie Lynch King Jr as well? Okay, Gerald Ford’s original name was Leslie Lynch King Jr, but Omaha also claims Bob Gibson and Gale Sayers who grew up in Omaha. Thinking of Omaha right now as I pour some beer into my morning glass of tomato juice.

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