Crawford stops Diaz; Beltran scores big KO; Benavidez gets TKO win

Terence “Bud” Crawford thoroughly dominated Felix Diaz, while Ray Beltran got business done with a single wicked Knockout of the Year shot.

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Terence Crawford (right) showed all his strengths against Felix Diaz Saturday. Photo: Ed Mulholland/HBO

SAN DIEGO, May 20, 2017 – Terence “Bud” Crawford showed he belongs among the top pound for pound fighters in the world today, delivering a thorough beating to Felix Diaz of the Dominican Republic at Madison Square Garden Saturday.

Crawford (31-0, 22 KOs) fought the entire bout as a southpaw against the southpaw Olympic gold medalist Diaz, later saying “I came out southpaw because I do what I want in there, it’s my ring.” After a few rounds assessing Diaz’s approach, he began to pick him apart. Round after round, Crawford delivered damage via combination punches to Diaz.

Terence Crawford landed an impressive 59 percent of his power punches. Photo: Ed Mulholland, HBO Boxing

Diaz wasn’t completely disarmed. In the early rounds and on several occasions, Diaz hit Crawford with a good right hook. But they were single punches, and all they really did is fire up Crawford’s competitive nature. Great boxers have a mean streak they can call on, and Crawford’s is a mile wide. “It’s a fight. You can’t be nice in there. My dad always told me as a little kid, don’t go in there playing. You might get hurt,” said Crawford.

Crawford got to the point he was toying with Diaz, standing in front of him and taunting him. It got to the point referee Steve Willis told him to tone it down after he patted Diaz on the head in the middle of a round.

Referee Steve Willis took issue with Terence Crawford when he began taunting Felix Diaz. Photo: Ed Mulholland/HBO

After the ninth round, Diaz’s trainer Joel Diaz told his fighter he needed to show him something or he would stop the bout. The Dominican gamely went back out, but it was an unnecessary three minutes of additional punishment, and Diaz wisely called it a day.

The CompuBox stats tell the story. Crawford landed 193 of 520 punches thrown (37 percent); Diaz landed just 69 punches of 346 thrown (20 percent). Crawford landed on 139 or 235 power punches, an astonishing 59 percent. Anytime a boxer lands more than 40 percent, he’s considered unstoppable. Diaz landed barely a third as many, just 58 of 285 power punches (20 percent).

Terence Crawford has the opportunity to become one of the few unified boxing champions with all the titles in the lightweight division. Photo: Ed Mulholland/HBO

As Crawford has moved up in weight, he’s maintained and may have even increased his power. His fundamental are as solid as any professional in the sport. The lineal, unified WBO and WBC lightweight champion said the fight he really wants now is against eight division champion Manny Pacquiao, who is promoted by Top Rank Boxing just as Crawford is. “That’s the only fight we’re looking for,” said Crawford. But if not, he called out Julius Indongo of Namibia sitting ringside, who holds the only lightweight title not in Crawford’s hands. He also named welterweight champion Keith Thurman a division above him. “I’m willing to fight anybody.” But it’s not likely anybody is willing to fight someone as dominant as Crawford.

Crawford’s most worthy opponents are in lighter divisions. It’s not clear whether Vasyl Lomachenko or Mikey Garcia will be able to catch up in weight in the future. They are more likely to fight each other first and it may put the winner in Crawford’s path. In the meantime, the hard-hitting Indongo will do nicely, thank you.

Ray Beltran put Jonathan Maicelo on the canvas with a single left hook in the second round. Photo: Ed Mulholland/HBO

The most dramatic fight of the card and of the entire weekend was the spectacular second round knockout by veteran Ray Beltran of Phoenix via Mexico of Jonathan Maicelo of Peru. Beltran, whose immigration status in the U.S. was in part riding on the outcome, had a rough first round. An accidental headbutt by Maicelo cut Beltran and knocked him down from the force; the referee erroneously called it a knockdown from a punch. At the end of the round, Beltran scored a legitimate knockdown of Maicelo the referee missed.

Ray Beltran (right) was knocked onto the canvas by an accidental headbutt ruled to be a punch in the first round. Photo: Ed Mulholland/HBO

No matter, Beltran took matters into his own hands, specifically his left. One minute and 25 seconds into the second round, Beltran hit Maicelo with a perfectly timed left hook counterpunch, and Maicelo was out cold immediately. He hit the canvas hard, knocking his head back with such force it raised serious alarm. Maicelo was put onto a stretcher and taken out of the ring immediately to a nearby hospital per the New York State Athletic Commission. He was reported conscious and being treated for a concussion.

An emotional Beltran (33-7-1, 21 KOs) wished Maicelo (25-3, 12 KOs) well. “When I fight, I never really expect to hurt my opponents, no harm. That’s what we do, but I didn’t expect he was going down that bad.”

It was victory Ray Beltran needed to secure his immigration status in the U.S. and a title fight opportunity. Photo: Ed Mulholland/HBO

Beltran said he couldn’t really express his emotions after the win. “It’s hope for my family, a better future. (The win) means my dreams are coming true, I’m making my dreams come true from my hard work. I’ll fight any champion brave enough to fight me. Stand them in front of me and I’ll fight them.”

Beltran said he had to adjust to Maicelo’s “awkward” style. “I knew it was a matter of time, I saw the openings … I hit him with a lead left hook. I’ve knocked out a lot of people with that punch. I’m feeling pretty good about my green card now.

“When I hit him and he was going down, I knew he wasn’t going to get up the way he fell. I was happy I was going to win, but then I’m worried for him. I hope he recovers and will be well,” said Beltran. The 35-year-old Beltran should now get a title opportunity against IBF champion Robert Easter Jr., or WBA champion Jorge Linares.

David Benavidez (left) employed solid body work against a tough Rogelio Medina Saturday in Laredo, Texas. Photo: Edgar Ramos, Premier Boxing Champions
David Benavidez (left) employed solid body work against a tough Rogelio Medina Saturday in Laredo, Texas. Photo: Edgar Ramos, Premier Boxing Champions

It was a great night for Phoenix-based boxers. In Laredo, Texas on the Premier Boxing card carried on Fox Sports 1, 20-year-old super middleweight David Benavidez of Phoenix won a spectacular firefight in eight rounds over veteran Rogelio “Porky” Medina of Mexico.

Everyone expected an all-action fight, but nothing like this. Benavidez (18-0, 17 KOs) has developed an impressive arsenal of punches and has the power to make them stick. But Benavidez hasn’t ever run across an opponent as tough as Medina, who simply refused to yield. Round after round, Benavidez unloaded hooks, upper cuts and brilliant body shots on Medina. Like the worst sort of zombie, he just kept coming.

At just 20 years old, David Benavidez (left) is already a force in the super middleweight division. Photo: Edgar Ramos, Premier Boxing Champions

But even a man as tough as Medina has his limits. Benavidez had Medina down in the sixth round, and again in the seventh after a perfect left hook to the torso. Median insisted to his corner he could keep going, but 59 seconds into the eighth round, Benavidez landed several additional body shots. Medina was down for good.

“I’ve never fought a fighter that pushed me to my full extent like this,” said Benavidez. “It took everything I had to stop him.”

David Benavidez and his team celebrate his win and tenth straight knockout victory. Photo: Edgar Ramos, Premier Boxing Champions

Benavidez should move into the Top 20 ranked super middleweights, and he is now in the position to challenge for a 168-pound division title. He would be the youngest ever super middleweight champion should he win. “It just makes me more humble, it gives me motivation to work hard. There’s never been a super middleweight champion at 20 years old. I want to be the first to do that.” Based on Saturday’s performance, his odds look good. If I’m James DeGale or Zurdo Ramirez, I wouldn’t want any part of Benavidez.

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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