This Bud’s for You: Crawford Belts Beltran

By Robert Ecksel on November 29, 2014
This Bud’s for You: Crawford Belts Beltran
If boxing can make it in Omaha, Nebraska, boxing can make it anywhere. (Naoki Fukuda)

Saturday night at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska, Terence Crawford decisioned Ray Beltran by scores of 119-109 twice and 120-109…

Saturday night at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska, Omaha’s own Terence “Bud” Crawford (25-0, 19 KOs), successfully defended his WBO lightweight title by decisioning tough as nails Raymundo Beltran (29-7-1, 17 KOs), from Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, by unanimous scores of 119-109 twice and 120-109.

Fighting out of the red corner in white trunks with blue and red trim, the Pride of Omaha is the real deal. He can box. He can punch. He faces tough opposition. He has ring smarts to spare. He takes calculated risks. He has power in both hands. He has a beard made of granite.

Beltran, fighting out of the blue corner in red trunks, is no pushover. But against Crawford he looked like a plodder, a one-dimensional slugger of limited skill and less imagination. Those who have seen Beltran fight know he is neither. He looked bad because Crawford is that good.

In front of 11,127 screaming hometown fans, Crawford proved, among other things, that boxing is alive and well in Omaha. And if boxing can make it in Omaha, boxing can make it anywhere. Las Vegas is inaccessible to some and repellent to others, but if you give local fans something to cheer about, cheer they will, at the top of their lungs, for the local kid who made good.

Crawford made good big time for the third time this year. In March he defeated Ricky Burns in Scotland to win the WBO title. In June he crushed previously undefeated Yuriorkis Gamboa. While Saturday’s performance was not as dynamic as dropping El Ciclon de Guantánamo three times, it was important in other ways. Beltran, unlike career featherweight Gamboa, is a natural lightweight, and a rugged natural lightweight at that, and Crawford basically took him apart. Beltran had his moments, as all fine fighters do. It’s just that Crawford had more of them, many more of them, as the lopsided decision indicates.

The opening round was as competitive as a round can be. The fighters were feeling each other out. They traded jabs. Crawford landed a sweet right counter which may have sealed it for the Nebraskan. He landed 10 of 44 punches to Beltran’s 7 of 31.

In round two Crawford pulled the old switcheroo and started fighting as a southpaw. He may be ambidextrous or just very clever, but whatever it was succeeded in throwing Beltran off his game. He was able to cut off the ring. Unfortunately his connect percentage dropped precipitously as Crawford’s right jab found a home on his face. Beltran only landed 4 off 33 punches to the champion’s 22 of 61.

To keep his flatfooted opponent on his toes, Crawford resumed fighting as a righty in round three. Ha made adjustments as necessary. He kept his distance, forcing Beltran to fight his fight. And he was busy, extremely busy, using every inch of the ring while avoiding the ropes. Beltran landed a power jab and a hard right that momentarily silenced the crowd, to which Crawford, switching to southpaw again, responded with a tasty right hook counter. Crawford landed 31 of 120 punches. Beltran landed only 7 of 63.

Between rounds Crawford’s corner was as pleased as punch. “Good round, Bud,” his trainer said. “He was trying to bait you.”

The fighters might have split rounds four and five. Crawford took the fourth, landing 22 punches to Beltran’s 8. In the fifth Crawford outlanded the challenger 24 to 14, but Beltran rallied to have his best round of the fight.

Beltran started busting up in round six. Crawford continued to switch back and forth between orthodox and southpaw and his nasty right jab was causing Beltran’s right eye to swell. He was still in the fight, sort of, and his corner liked what they saw.

“Looking good son. You’re starting to come on. Keep walking to your left.”

In round seven the fighters landed an equal number of punches, 13 for Crawford and 10 for Beltran, but the gap in skill and will was widening. There’s no way to know if Beltran, who was Pacquiao’s sparring partner, has a sparring partner mentality, but Crawford was asserting his superiority and there wasn’t much Beltran could do about it.

As the rounds progressed, Crawford continued to fight smart, fight flashy, fight effective. Beltran had a reasonably good ninth round, but he was up against a master boxer, and while Beltran is many things, master boxer isn’t among them.

Crawford opened up in the championship rounds. His speed, intelligence, power and precision were wearing Beltran down. The challenger kept coming on, but the more he came on the more he got beaten down. Crawford landed 19 punches to Beltran’s 7 in round 10, 15 to Beltran’s 3 in round 11, and was going for a knockout in the 12th and final round. Beltran’s fists disabused him of that notion, so Crawford resumed boxing, moving, dancing, firing off volleys, befuddling his worthy but outclassed opponent as the bell to end the fight sounded.

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  1. Galvar 08:06pm, 12/01/2014

    Sorry Raxman, gotta disagree.  Beltran’s real claim to fame is being Manny’s sparring partner.  Ricky Burns, I have to admit I’ve not seen fight a lot but he got beat by Beltran.  Gamboa has no defense and smaller than Crawford.  He’s been knocked down in almost all his fights so it wasn’t a surprise to me that Crawford dropped him that many times.  What is the criteria to get Fighter of the Year?  Is it the number of good fighters a boxer beats or is it how badly a boxer beats them? If it’s the latter then GGG has the edge. Again, Crawford just didn’t wow me.  He’s a really good boxer but the way the HBO people were talking about him was like he was Sugar Ray Robinson reincarnated.

  2. Cyrus "Shades of Hades" Daruwalla 11:04pm, 11/30/2014

    I watched Crawford’s fight against Prescott and do think the dude has the smarts, skill and lateral movement to give both Manny and Floyd a hard time. If he keeps clean and out of trouble, Crawford is a P4P for a long time to come. He can fight in front of a hostile crowd as well, think, “Ricky Burns”.
    If Chris Algieri, can beat Ruslan, it is sure that Crawford can. A great fight it would be against Danny Garcia, the winner to fight Manny. He is tougher than the Billion Dollar Baby, Adrien Broner, that is definite.

  3. raxman 03:15pm, 11/30/2014

    Galvar - Crawford has beaten, this year - world champion ricky burns, undefeated former two division champion and outright gun in gamboa, and now hard a hard as nails journeyman/gatekeeper in Beltran. those accomplishments totally eclipse GGG’s who is yet to even face a world champion - the closest he has come is an ex champ in geale - along with this year a gatekeeper in Rubio and absolute punching bag Adama.
    as spectacular as Golovkin is you can’t rate his wins higher than Crawfords because his level of opposition hasn’t been as good.
    that is not to say that Crawford is the better fighter - he most probably isn’t but until GGG fights and beats better opposition than Geale his accolades have to be measured with reason

  4. Galvar 08:37am, 11/30/2014

    I didn’t see anything spectacular from Crawford other than that jab.  He fought a guy who didn’t punch and when he did Crawford got caught flush.  HBO was asking if he would be fighter of the year.  Don’t know about that.  My vote goes to GGG.

  5. Eric 08:08am, 11/30/2014

    No disrespect to Dicky Ryan & Ron Stander, but its been awhile since Omaha had something to root for other than the Cornhuskers. A blue-collar champ is fitting for this midwestern city.

  6. Darrell 01:14am, 11/30/2014

    Crawford is brilliant, no doubts…....Ray still should’ve been a beltholder though, he beat Burns.

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