SAN DIEGO, July 22, 2016 – Boxing fans worldwide criticize the state of the sport repeatedly these days. “The best won’t fight the best anymore.” “Boxing is too much about business instead of sport.” “Promoters are too protective.”
If fans feel this way, they should be elated with Saturday’s showdown between two undefeated junior welterweights who are legitimate champions and the best in their division: American Terence Crawford of Omaha (28-0, 20 KOs) and Ukrainian Viktor Postol (28-0, 12 KOs).
Crawford, the consensus 2014 Fighter of the Year, is ranked number one in the division, mowing down all of his opposition with ease. Postol is number two by BoxRec.com and ESPN; the transnational ranking system has them reversed. Crawford is the WBO champion; Postol the WBC champion. Both belts are on the line in a true unification fight between worthy opponents. This fight has true significance in the sport.
Both are at the top of their craft. Crawford is riding a three-fight knockout streak. He lies in wait in the first few rounds luring his prey closer, then strikes at will and punishes his opponent. He’s fun to watch, fast and powerful.
Postol is coming off an impressive TKO win over the tough Lucas Matthysse. Postol has made tremendous strides since he began training a year ago with Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles. He has shown patience, a tough chin when he needs one, and the ability to stick to his plan and force his opponent to bend to his will.
If you’re in Las Vegas or close enough to get there, ticket prices are a reasonable $50 to $300. The HBO PPV is not on the outrageous side at $50/$60 HD. There should be tremendous enthusiasm. It’s there under the surface and in any individual conversation about it.
So what’s not to love about this fight? It’s got everything going for it. But ticket sales at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas are not meeting even modest expectations. Pay per view buys won’t be known for several days, but they won’t break any records. It isn’t too late for fans to get on board. Order the fight, invite your friends over with some food and beverages, and enjoy a fight that really means something between two champions.
Crawford is the favorite, a true homegrown American star from the Midwest who has stayed loyal to his hometown of Omaha. His last few fights have taken place in Omaha in front of sellout crowds including the “Oracle of Omaha” himself, Warren Buffett. Crawford is an orthodox boxer-puncher who easily and frequently turns to the southpaw stance to throw opponents off balance. In recent bouts, Crawford has demonstrated a killer instinct driven by a strictly professional mean streak to finish his opponents when he sees the chance with considerable power.
Viktor Postol’s tenth round knockout victory over Lucas Matthysse showed why Freddie Roach has been Trainer of the Year so many times, and why assistant Marvin Somodio will someday win the same honor. Roach and Somodio put together the perfect game plan for Postol, and he executed it to the letter with his win over the hard-hitting Matthysse. Postol succeeded because he did what many others could not do with Matthysse. He took away Matthysse’s target and forced Matthysse to box, while moving and making himself hard to hit. Not known as a knockout artist, Postol said the outcome wasn’t in the plan, but assured fans it would be his last knockout.
After the fight, Postol was asked about facing Crawford. “It would be my pleasure to meet him in the ring,” said Postol. “I want to prove myself to the American boxing fans and prove there are real champions in Ukraine.”
At their first news conference this year, Postol expressed complete confidence in his abilities, saying in rapidly improving English, “I am looking forward to destroying Crawford – destroying his perfect record and destroying his reign as world champion.”
Crawford prefers to do his talking in the ring, unless it’s about one of his beloved community service projects. “You’ve got the number one versus number two in a unification fight, 50-50 on paper. But in my eyes, I’m looking to go in and destroy this man right here (pointing to Postol in a news conference). I don’t say too much to the public, because I’m focused on the task at hand.”
Postol has been sparring with southpaw partners to prepare for Crawford. He has a height and reach advantage on Crawford and even though Crawford is the favorite, this will be a close and competitive fight until it ends, whenever that end comes. It may be a tactical fight, but one power punch from either man could end it quickly.
Watching closely according to Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is Manny Pacquiao, who has yet to select an opponent for his much discussed comeback later this year. The winner of this bout may get his chance to face the eight-division champion.
Friday’s weigh-in drew an appreciative crowd, so perhaps fans are finally starting to warm up to this contest. All fighters made weight, Crawford at the 140 pound limit and Postol at 139.5 pounds. Both appeared in tremendous shape.
It’s worth noting that Crawford is the first African-American boxer to headline a pay-per-view boxing event since Floyd Mayweather last year. Since we brought up Mayweather and Pacquiao’s names, fans may still feel burned by the so-called “Fight of the Century” they shelled out $100 to watch last spring between Mayweather and Pacquiao.
It’s OK to be disappointed. But it’s time to get over it. The money is gone. Whining now about getting “ripped off” does you no good, and it’s punishing athletes like Terence Crawford and Viktor Postol as well as the undercard fighters to hold a worthless grudge.
So in the next 24 hours, call your friends and figure out who’s ordering the fight, then get together and enjoy it.
Crawford vs. Postol airs on HBO PPV starting at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. You can also watch online via TopRankTV.com in the U.S. and its territories and Canada. You can also view the non-televised undercard fights online for free.
NEXT: Crawford vs. Postol, our keys to the fight and predictions
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, Fellow PRSA, is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. She is owner of the Falcon Valley Group based in San Diego, California. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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