SAN DIEGO, Calif., June 9, 2018 – After reaching the rare accomplishment of becoming the unified, undisputed junior welterweight division champion in 2017, Terence “Bud” Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) relinquished all of his titles, moving up to the welterweight division. He begins collecting new belts tonight, facing improbable WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn of Australia. Horn (17-0-1, 11 KOs) won the title in a questionable upset of eight division champion Manny Pacquiao.
Terence Crawford an overwhelming favorite, but still worth watching
It should be an exciting fight to watch, even though two-time Fighter of the Year Crawford is an overwhelming favorite to win over Horn. With every challenge and every fight, Crawford puts more of his skills on display. He has become equally comfortable fighting either from his natural orthodox stance or the southpaw stance. This makes it more difficult for opponents to prepare for him or know what to anticipate. He is composed, surgical in his precision, and patient. His confidence is built on his preparation. When he is ready to unleash his offense, he is fast and accurate.
Crawford wasn’t always thought of as a power punching knockout fighter, but he’s become one. He employs a selective mean streak in the ring, wanting not just to win but to destroy his opponents and demoralize them. He beats them mentally before he beats them physically. How will Crawford’s skills translate at the higher 147-pound weight? This is the draw tonight – not whether Crawford wins, but how he does it and how he looks tonight.
Horn doesn’t intend to simply pick up a paycheck in Las Vegas. He’s been the toast of Australia after his defeat of Pacquiao. Say whatever you like about it, the one asset Horn demonstrated was determination. He was nearly knocked out in the ninth round, and referee Mark Nelson told Horn he needed to show him something in the tenth or he’d stop the fight. Horn rallied, and after the fight Pacquiao admitted he didn’t expect his toughness.
Horn was badly cut in the fight by southpaw Pacquiao. Crawford fights from both his natural orthodox stance and an equally strong southpaw stance in fights, and cuts from head cuts or punches could come into play again for Horn. It’s one thing to prevail against a fading champion. It’s another to look into the eye of one of the baddest, most calculating fighters on the planet.
Crawford made weight at 146.5 pounds. Horn didn’t make weight on the first try, but squeaked out 147 pounds on the second try. Horn made news this week complaining about the heat in his Las Vegas gym. It is his first fight outside Australia. Handling the bright lights of Sin City might be nearly as tough as facing Crawford for Horn.
Once Crawford has his first welterweight title, he’ll make a more attractive opponent for the likes of Keith Thurman and Errol Spence, Jr. Seeing the Omaha native and Dallas natives mix it up in the heartland is a fight every American fan should be excited about.
Fight streamed live on ESPN+ – get used to it
But you can put down the remote control looking for the fight. What’s also notable about tonight’s bout is that it can only be seen via the ESPN+ app, a new paid service from the sports network.
The app, which costs $4.99, includes multiple sports including boxing cards from Top Rank Promotions. Why not put the fight on regular ESPN? It would likely score ratings on a slow sports night with no NHL or NBA playoffs and the World Cup not yet underway. Because Top Rank and ESPN are playing the long game here.
Former cable and satellite customers are abandoning expensive services in droves in favorite of streaming services where people can tailor their entertainment including sports to their own tastes and pay only for what they want. ESPN sees the way the business is going, and so does promoter Bob Arum, who’s been at the forefront of boxing and entertainment trends for 50 years.
For fans whining about paying $4.99 to see tonight’s fight, look yourself in the mirror and claim you don’t blow $5 on a coffee drink, cocktail, or impulse purchase in a month. There’s plenty of additional programming on the app in multiple sports in addition to boxing. You can watch the entire card including all the undercard fights starting at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT. It’s portable, so if you’re stuck at a wedding reception you can still secretly watch on your phone — like I did earlier this month as a graduation. (Sorry, kids).
For the real cheapskates, you can sign up for the free seven day trial and then quit without paying a dime. But if you’re willing to cough up $70 for one pay per view, that amount gives you ESPN+ all year. Give it a try – I’ve been impressed and I’m betting you’ll stick around.
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Gayle Lynn Falkenthal 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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