SAN DIEGO, Calif., Oct. 13, 2018 – Terence “Bud” Crawford could have played it safe and cruised to a unanimous decision victory with a cautious final round after working over a an outclasses Jose Benavidez Jr. Saturday. But that isn’t how a champion like Crawford operates.
In front of the 13,323 screaming fans at the CHI Health Arena, among them The Oracle of Omaha and the richest man in America, Warren Buffett, Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) closed the show, stopping Benavidez (27-1, 18 KOs) with just 18 seconds left in the fight to retain his WBO welterweight title.
Benavidez Jr. got off to a strong start, using a good jab on Crawford and landing behind it with several combinations shots. Crawford had to stay patient and figure out how to take things apart. He shifted to a southpaw stance in the second round, and stayed there, working on distance and timing.
“We just took our time today,” said Crawford after the fight. “Everything that went on this week, he tried to get into my head. He wanted me to have a firefight with him. I knew when we could get into a rhythm, we could do whatever we want, and that’s what we did today.
“He made me work in the early rounds he was trying to counter me, working on my distance. I couldn’t figure it out at first, but once I got my distance it was a wrap from there.”
Crawford stays patient, pulls away in the later rounds
After three rounds, the pair were dead even in punches thrown and power punches landed. But when Crawford solved the puzzle, he started gaining ground and then pulling away. Benavidez Jr. started to tire and fight flat footed, and from that point on it was only a matter of time. By the seventh round, Crawford was in control and landing a beautiful mix of punches, straight lefts and body shots. Benavidez Jr. began visibly breathing hard.
At that point, Crawford couldn’t keep the grin off his face. Benavidez Jr. was getting schooled. Crawford was circling and firing off combination punches. Though Benavidez Jr. was shaking his head, he wasn’t fooling anyone.
At the end of the 11th round, Crawford threw Benavidez Jr. off balance with a check left hook. He finished the round and looked completely composed without any fatigue at all. Trainer Brian McIntyre told Crawford to play it safe. Bud had his own ideas. He wanted to make a statement in only his second welterweight fight, and he most certainly did, catching Benavidez with the right upper cut, and then closing the round by pouring on the punishment until referee Celestino Ruiz was forced to stop the fight.
“I been seeing it (the upper cut), rounds and rounds ahead of time,” said Crawford. “But I seen him pulling back. But then he started getting tired, so I start seeing him leaning more and more, because I was touching him to the body. And then I just threw the shot, and it landed.” Crawford said his mother, Deborah, told him “It took you too long, but good job.”
Crawford landed 188 of 579 total punches (32 percent) vs. 92 of 501 total punches (19 percent) for Benavidez Jr. Crawford landed 131 power punches (43 percent connect rate) to 84 for Benavidez Jr. (30 percent connect rate).
Benavidez Jr. admits his gunshot injury slowed him down
A disappointed Benavidez Jr. admitted his injured knee had affected him. “My legs starting hurting, I hurt my legs … It felt pretty bad in the ninth round. I tried not to think about it.
“Not only that, I take nothing away from him, he’s the best of the best. I feel like I did a good job. I just have to go back and train harder,” said Benavidez Jr. “There’s no excuses. He adapted, he’s a good fighter. But I’m a good fighter too, and I think I gave the fans a hell of a fight. I had that fight close, I had it close .. I know he didn’t think I was going to be that good. He’s the best of the best for a reason.”
For a few rounds, he did. But to date, Crawford hasn’t let any fight stay close. Who would he like to face next? “I want them all. I’ve been saying that all along. It ain’t my job to get the fights done, it’s my job to want to fight the fights everyone wants to see. I’ve been calling for them ever since I moved up to the division.” Short of Errol Spence, Jr. it is hard to imagine anyone else giving this version of Terence Crawford a challenge.
Benavidez Jr. thought he could get under Crawford’s skin. It didn’t work for him and it’s never worked for anyone. Crawford beats opponents mentally before he beats them physically. Crawford is so confident in his finishing skils, he can afford to be patient until he adjusts his game plan in the early rounds. When he is ready to unleash his offense, he is unstoppable.
Shakur Stevenson scores impressive first round win
U.S. Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson of Newark, New Jersey (9-0, 5 KOs) had the performance fans have been waiting for, stopping Viorel Simion of Romania (21-3, 9 KOs) in just one round. It was Stevenson’s first ten round fight, but they don’t get paid by the hour. Simion had never been stopped, but Stevenson did it with a superb right hook to the head for the first knockdown. Simion was all but done, but got to his feet. Stevenson moved in and made it stick with another right hook, as referee Curtis Thrasher waved off the fight.
“My knockout is here, my power is here, my speed … There isn’t too much more I need to work on. I just need to keep staying sharp in the gym,” said Stevenson after the win.
Simion, who was fighting for the first time in the United States as a late notice replacement, hadn’t been in the ring for 18 months since a loss to former champion Scott Quigg, and it showed.
Stevenson, who is just 21 years old, has all the potential to be a homegrown American star of the future. Critics have questioned Stevenson’s long-term ability, but he quieted plenty of them down with his crowd pleasing performance Saturday. Stevenson said he’d like to take on Lee Selby or Josh Warrington of Great Britain. A victory would position him for a world title fight.
Undercard results: Alvarado, Adames, Meyer score wins
Mikaela Mayer (8-0, 4 KOs) showed why she’s a rising star on the fast track to a world title fight with a solid eight round shutout win over Canadian Vanessa Bradford (4-1-2). Mayer knocked Bradford down in the seventh round, but the tough Bradford stayed on her feet to the closing bell and provided Mayer a solid test. Mayer’s fundamentals are solid with plenty of power and no wasted effort. This was Mayer’s fifth fight in 2018 and she plans one more before the end of the year. Other prospects, men and women, take note of this aggressive schedule.
Warhorse “Mile High” Mike Alvarado (40-4, 28 KOs) delivered a lights out second right knockout over journeyman Robbie Cannon (16-14-3, 7 KOs). Cannon drops Alvarado in the first round, but it didn’t matter when the right hand landed for Alvarado. It was lights out. Alvarado says “I feel better than ever, thanks to my team.” He made the welterweight limit with ease at 142 pounds, and said he’d like to drop to 140 pounds and fight for a title “to secure my legacy.” After all Alvarado’s been through, he deserves the opportunity.
Super welterweight Carlos Adames of the Dominican Republic (15-0, 12 KOs) also made it an early night with a second round TKO win over Joshua Corley (14-3-1, 9 KOs), for the vacant NABF Super Welterweight title. “I want to face the best, and represent the Dominican Republic with great pride, said Adames.
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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