SAN DIEGO, Calif., Oct. 12, 2018 – Memo to boxing: Don’t make Bud Crawford mad.
Terence “Bud” Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) returns to his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska to take on Jose Benavidez Jr. of Phoenix (27-0, 18 KOs) with two undefeated records and Crawford’s WBO welterweight title on the line. The televised card airs starting at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on ESPN – yes, regular ESPN.
Crawford got off to a great start in his new weight division. He began collecting belts in June, the first one from improbable WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn of Australia in the kind of one-sided fight everyone saw from Crawford when he was a super lightweight.
Benavidez Jr. hasn’t faced the same level of competition as Crawford. Now he’ll face a man considered one of the top pound for pound fighters on the planet as of 2018. So how is he approaching this fight? Loudly. Benavidez Jr. has been calling out Crawford for months and has been keeping up a steady stream of trash talk in during the fight promotion. Crawford has been more than willing to trade barbs.
Similar approaches haven’t gone so well. Crawford took out Hank Lundy in the fifth round, and then handed Dierry Jean his first loss in a tenth round TKO, clowning with him in the ring before finishing him off, then saying to Team Jean after the fight, “Did get what you was looking for?”
Nevertheless, Benavidez Jr. thinks he can get under Crawford’s skin. At the Omaha weigh-in on Friday, Benavidez shoved Crawford as he approached for the final face off. Crawford took a big swing at Benavidez who slipped the halfhearted throw.
See the weigh-in as it happened.
Crawford: The beef is 100 percent real with Benavidez
“They’ve been telling me to be cool all week. I’ve been cool, I’ve been keeping it professional. He pushed me. You seen what I did,” explained Crawford. “I’m cool, I just can’t wait to fight tomorrow.
“He said we’re all bark but no bite. Come Saturday, he’s gonna find out how hard I bite. I ain’t even gotta do too much talking because I know what’s gonna happen come Saturday,” promised Crawford. “I’m just going to go out there and shut him up. That’s it. That’s all.”
Benavidez says his approach is succeeding. “I’m in his head, I’m in his head. I hope he swing faster than what he swung today. I saw that punch coming a mile away. And I hope he puts more power into it, because that was a bitch punch he threw. I’m ready for anything that comes my way.
“I got a game plan, I know what I’m going to do, and I’m going to take him out tomorrow,” said Benavidez. “It’s not overconfidence. I have confidence in myself. I know what I have to do and I’m going to be victorious tomorrow.”
Promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank said, “There are some matches that you particularly look forward to … To see these two great warriors, Jose challenging and Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford defending, it’s, for me, a real honor and a privilege. It’s wonderful to be here.”
Crawford wasn’t always thought of as a power-punching knockout fighter, but he became one. Like many great fighters, he employs a selective mean streak in the ring, wanting not just to win but to demoralize his opponents as he destroys them. They may try to play his game, which is a mistake. Crawford beats opponents mentally before he beats them physically. Crawford’s skills translate beautifully to the heavier 147-pound weight division.
Crawford is composed, surgical in his precision, and patient. His confidence rests on his preparation. When he is ready to unleash his offense, he is fast and accurate.
Benavidez Jr. has a four-inch height advantage over Crawford (6-0 to 5-8). This gives Crawford a lot of torso lacking much padding to land body shots in the first few rounds of the fight. He can attack Benavidez Jr. from both sides, as Crawford is equally comfortable at southpaw as in the orthodox stance. Opponents need to be fast and opportunistic because they get so little set-up time against Crawford.
Benavidez Jr. will not be able to keep up with Crawford’s tactics. This fight will be over in the middle rounds, unless Crawford feels like dragging out the punishment for his amusement and the entertainment of his hometown fans.
Shakur Stevenson fights in first co-main on ESPN
On the televised opener, U.S. Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson (8-0, 4 KOs) fights a ten-round super featherweight contest against Viorel Simion of Romania (21-2, 9 KOs). Simion hasn’t been in the ring since April 2017, when he lost a decision to Scott Quigg at Wembley Stadium. This is Stevenson’s first ten round fight and also his first co-main event.
“I feel good and I had a great training camp with Terence,” said Stevenson. “I’m excited. I’m ready to put on a show. This is my first time as a co-main event. This is a tough fighter I’m fighting against. I feel like the better the competition, the better I am.”
Stevenson said he is “definitely hyped. I want to outdo Lee Selby and Scott Quigg.”
Simion says he’s excited for first ever fight in the United States. “I was preparing for a show in Bulgaria on October 27, but when I got this offer, I jumped at it. It’s not a problem for me,” added Simion, saying he has fought on big stages including the Joshua-Klitschko undercard, where he lost to former world champion Quigg.
Top Rank is carefully cultivating Stevenson as a homegrown star of the future. He’s still just 21 years old. Critics have questioned Stevenson’s long term ability, but he has plenty of time to develop his skills.
ESPN+ airs all Omaha undercard fights
ESPN+ will show the entire Top Rank undercard starting at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The fight lineup includes:
- Carlos Adames vs. Joshua Conley, 10 round super welterweight fight for the vacant NABF Super Welterweight title
- Mikaela Mayer vs. Vanessa Bradford, eight rounds for the vacant women’s NABF Super Featherweight title
- Steve Nelson vs. Oscar Riojas, eight rounds at light heavyweight
- Mike Alvarado vs. Robbie Cannon, eight rounds at welterweight
- Ismail Muwendo vs. Andre Wilson, eight rounds at lightweight
- Jose Valenzuela vs. Hugo Rodriguez, four rounds at super featherweight
- Keeshawn Williams vs. Ramel Snegur, four rounds at welterweight
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.
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