Show me a hero: Crawford rolls into boxing’s elite

By Cheekay Brandon on July 24, 2016
Show me a hero: Crawford rolls into boxing’s elite
Crawford rolled to a unanimous decision. (Eric Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

It remains to be seen whether Crawford’s deliberate, neck-up style generates buy-in from the common fan…

Las Vegas, NV—The bout was labeled “Unification,” and pitted Terence Crawford of Omaha, NE (28-0, 20 KOs) against Viktor Postol of Ukraine (28-0, 12 KOs), in a fight to unify the WBC and WBO junior welterweight titles. This presented an intriguing match of styles, between two undefeated champions.  Rounds 1-3 were best described as Postol awkwardly chasing Crawford, who seemed content with moving his feet and picking his spots, scoring occasionally from the outside. The fight took a major turn in round 5, when Crawford scored two knockdowns, turning the tide for good. The remainder of the fight followed suit: Crawford, sprightly and tactical, circling Postol and landing flashy punches on many occasion, sometimes hurting Postol. The fight, while entertaining, can only be described as easy on the eyes for those who appreciate the finer details of fighting. It was, however, an outstanding performance by one of boxing’s best, as Crawford rolled to a lopsided unanimous decision (118-107, 118-107, 117-108). Crawford, always pleasant, respectful and modest, described the performance at the post-fight presser: “I had fun in there….from round 3, on, I had him figured out.”

This fight’s outcome, while an unquestioned success for Crawford’s team, was only one aspect of the narrative surrounding this fight. Bob Arum of Top Rank controversially promoted this fight as a pay-per-view (PPV) event, a decision that drew criticism because of Crawford’s relative anonymity (to the “regular” fan, relative to a Canelo Alvarez, let alone a Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao). As the final PPV numbers haven’t been released, we won’t know whether the event was a financial success for some time. Secondary (but related) to the financial bottom line, however, is the question of whether Crawford’s performance fortified his assumed position as one of boxing’s future torchbearers. While his performance was unquestionably brilliant, it remains to be seen whether his deliberate, neck-up style generates buy-in from the common fan, the ones the sport needs to sustain its popularity post-Floyd Mayweather.

The future remains as bright as ever for Crawford, the unquestioned king of the 140-lb. mountain. Questions remain regarding where Crawford should go. With Manny Pacquiao on his way back to boxing after a short hiatus, Crawford’s team should be chomping at the bit for the opportunity. After all, if his victory over Viktor Postol didn’t secure his status as a boxing household name, a decisive victory over a legend would end any remaining doubts.

The co-main event featured two undefeated fighters: Argentinean Matias Rueda (26-0, 23 KOs) and 2-time Olympian Oscar Valdez (20-0, 17 KOs), of Mexico. The stakes were high—the vacant WBO world featherweight title. Valdez has been on the receiving end of recent high praise from Bob Arum, who went as far as to compare him to legends Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales. Rueda represented a large step up in competition, and the very type of fighter—carrying the characteristic heavy-handed gene of Argentinean fighters—that might challenge the young and mostly untested Valdez.  And with both fighters under 30 years of age, this fight also might define the present and near future of the featherweight division.  With the stage set, Valdez did not disappoint. Showing speed, pinpoint power, and elusiveness, he jumped right on Rueda, who looked several steps slower, and mostly out of his league. It didn’t take long for Valdez, who stopped Rueda round 2, in a splendid performance.

At the post-fight presser, an emotional Valdez exclaimed over having achieved a lifelong dream: “This is a special night for me; I’ll never forget this.” Given the brilliant performance on Saturday night, Valdez might need to dream even bigger, as he appears ready for boxing’s spotlight, with many options on the table. Chief among these would be a showdown with WBO super featherweight title holder Vasyl Lomachenko, a fight that might qualify as worthy of boxing’s primetime.

The second undercard of the night featured a battle of welterweights, dynamite fisted undefeated Phoenix, AZ’s Jose Benavidez Jr. (24-0, 23 KO) and Santa Barbara, CA’s Francisco Santana (24-1). Hand speed was on display in a high action fight that saw moments of brilliance by Benavidez dispersed among a seesaw battle, Santana attempting to close the distance, fight on the inside, and neutralize Benavidez’s clear speed advantage. The fight went the distance, the judges giving Benavidez a lopsided unanimous decision (100-90, 96-94 and 98-92).

The first bout on the televised undercards featured a light heavyweight brawl between undefeated Ukraine’s Aleksandr Gvozdyk and American Tommy Karpency. Gvozdyk, the bronze medalist in the 2012 Summer Olympics, was knocked down for the first time in his career (round 1), but regrouped to take control of the fight, culminating in a piercing body shot that ended the fight (TKO) in round 6. In doing so, Gvozdyk retained his NABF light heavyweight title.

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  1. procopy 06:09pm, 07/24/2016

    Freddie Roach’s search for his next cash cow continues.. Meanwhile, Bob Arum seems to have already found his… Maybe Freddie will just stick to the old one and pull him out of the Senate.

  2. Arnold Harness 01:27pm, 07/24/2016

    Crawford is boring. Won’t buy another PPV. It was a rip-off. It was like turtle and rabbit fighting each other

  3. Eric 06:58am, 07/24/2016

    My BAD. I see that they FINALLY elected the Snake to the HOF this year. Couldn’t they have done this a little bit sooner?????? It was like making perhaps the greatest female singer of all time, Linda Ronstadt, wait until 2014, to be elected into the Rock & Roll HOF. RIP Snake. As an old Baltimore Colt fan, I forgive you for the “Ghost To The Post.” Still pissed though. What a game that was. Now put Jerry Kramer in the HOF or is he? Better check.

  4. Eric 06:52am, 07/24/2016

    Couple or tree big paychecks for the Cornhusker if the stars align up right. Maybe his former sparring partner Tim Bradley might be interested, maybe when Broner gets his get out of jail free card. Add Pacquiao to the mix and Crawford can prove himself by taking on the old guard of the 140-147lbers. Being a 140lb fighter from Omaha doesn’t usually garner the same attention as a ginger haired Irish-Mexican or a 5’8” shaven head megalomaniac with a Napoleon complex fighting out of Sin City. Location, location, location. How else could anyone explain why Joe Namath is in the NFL HOF and Ken Stabler, who destroys Namath in every meaningful statistic, especially completion percentage, isn’t in the HOF. IF Ken Stabler had played for a big, glamorous market like NYC, LA, or even neighboring San Fran, he would be in the HOF. To all the snooty snobs that reside in the evil NYC/DC/Hollywood triumvirate, flyover country lives matter.

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