Crawford vs. Diaz Preview

By Robert Ecksel on May 16, 2017
Crawford vs. Diaz Preview
“I tip my hat to Crawford for accepting me as an opponent because I am no pushover.”

One king who was recently dethroned is Bernard Hopkins. He has no vested interest in Crawford, but is willing to praise him nonetheless…

On Saturday, May 20, at New York’s Madison Square Garden, in a fight televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing, WBC/WBO World super lightweight champion Terence Crawford (30-0, 21 KOs), the Fighting Pride of Omaha, Nebraska, defends his title against 2008 Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz (19-1, 9 KOs), the southpaw from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Twenty-nine-year-old Crawford is one of the bright lights in boxing’s big city. He has been handled skillfully, almost as skillfully as he has handled every man he has faced, and won the WBO title by dethroning Ricky Burns in Scotland in 2014. Since then the seven men he has faced—Yuriorkis Gamboa and Ray Beltran in 2014, Thomas Dulorme and Dierry Jean in 2015, and Hank Lundy, Viktor Postol, John Molina Jr. last year—had a combined record of 186-19-2.

There is not a stiff among them.

His opponent on Saturday is a 33-year-old with only a single blemish on his record, a majority decision loss to Lamont Peterson. Like Crawford, Peterson is clever. Unlike Peterson, Crawford is more willing to mix it up and goes for the kill when he has his man hurt. Diaz has also fought some stiff competition, but none of the men he has faced is a Crawford’s level.

No fighter pleases everyone. Those who thirst for brawls abhor boxer-punchers, while proponents of the sweet science are revolted by crude fisticuffs. Crawford, naturally, has his detractors. He is primarily a counterpuncher. He has been accused of running. He clinches. He also showboats. But Crawford receives high marks for always getting the job done, and Diaz, who is ceding advantages in height and reach, is the kind of hard-punching, aggressive, come-forward fighter who is likely to bring out the best from the Omaha Kid.

“When you are at the top of the division, everyone wants to fight the guy at the top, especially when they can get their name out there to boost their ratings,” said Crawford during a recent Q&A. “I never ran away from any challenge.  He’s got the skills. He’s a good fighter. I never underestimate any opponent. I don’t look at a fighter’s record. If a fighter can fight, he can fight, and that’s that. I just fight the fight. I am prepared to go to hell and back to get the win. I will be ready for whatever Felix Diaz brings to the ring that night.”

Diaz, not coincidentally, believes that he will be ready for whatever Crawford brings.

“The time has finally come,” he said. “I will share the ring with one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world and I tip my hat to Crawford for accepting me as an opponent on May 20 because I am no pushover. With his style, I know I can beat Terence Crawford. Crawford has fought no one like me. Stylistically, I can beat him. I respect Crawford and believe he is a great fighter, but every king can be dethroned.”

One king who was recently dethroned is Bernard Hopkins. He has no vested interest in Crawford, but is willing to praise him nonetheless.

“On May 20, at Madison Square Garden, Terence Crawford will take on 2008 Olympic gold medal winner Felix Diaz,” he said. “It’s your next chance to see an elite talent at the height of his powers, because to me when the leather starts to fly, no one is cool under pressure as a man they call ‘Bud.’”

That’s an astute analysis. But Hopkins wasn’t finished.

“He dictates the pace of his fights,” said Hopkins. “Look at the way he controls the distance. He can hit you, but you can’t hit him. He knows exactly where he’s at, at all times, and he’s an excellent reader. He knows exactly where the punches are coming from, and he’s ready to counter. And when he switches his stance, look out, because lately Crawford has been fighting as a southpaw, allowing him better angles for his offense. And Terence has excellent footwork, taking small calculated steps to put himself in position to strike. Crawford reminds me of the great Donald Curry, otherwise known as the ‘Lone Star Cobra.’ And just like a cobra, Crawford goes from zero to 100 within a blink of an eye. He gets into a rhythm, hypnotizing his opponents. He uses his jab, to find the range, while he keeps his biggest weapon cocked and loaded, the straight left hand. His opponents are so mesmerized that they can’t get away, and after a combination, Crawford cuffs his opponents hard and pushes off, putting them off balance and himself in position. And just like that cobra, he’s always dangerous.”

Hopkins was something of a snake himself in the ring, so he knows what he’s talking about. He also has his detractors, for reasons too numerable to count. But say what you will about the recently retired Brother from Another Planet, he has an eye for talent, and sometimes even for talent other than his own.

“If Felix Diaz is going to have a chance in this fight,” continued Hopkins, “he’s going to need to jump on Crawford from round one, and make the fight as ugly as possible. But May 20th, we’re going to see the best Terence Crawford yet, and the Cobra will strike once again.”

Amen. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

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  1. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 12:50pm, 05/16/2017

    Diaz doesn’t hit hard enough.

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