A LIGHTWEIGHT STAR IS BORN
Terence Crawford put up quite a show tonight against Yuriorkis Gamboa and he proved that he has some star power by filling up that arena. It was really impressive how he was able to make adjustments, which shows his intelligence as a fighter but he also showed us that he can be pretty entertaining.
I look forward to seeing him fight guys like Miguel Vasquez and Ray Beltran, the latter of which will likely turn into a brawl at some point of that matchup. – Karl, Brunswick, Ga.
I look forward to seeing Crawford fight anyone who will try to aggressively take his WBO 135-pound belt. Vazquez isn’t the type of boxer to do that, but the Mexican technician is probably the only lightweight I’d pick to beat Crawford. If the Nebraska native fought Vazquez, the winner of that fight would let the boxing world know for sure who the best 135 pounder is (and it would crown “the real” lightweight champ in the eyes of THE RING magazine), but I seriously doubt it would result in a fight as entertaining and dramatic as we were treated to on Saturday.
Beltran, on the other hand, would take the fight to Crawford and probably make for an entertaining lightweight title bout. I Tweeted that Beltran wasn’t in Crawford’s class during the veteran’s 12-round bout with undersized late-sub Arash Usmanee in April, but I may have been too harsh with that opinion. Styles make fights and I have to assume that Beltran, who has to know that he’s probably in the final years of his prime at age 32, would be more motivated against Crawford than he was for Usmanee. Although he was screwed by the official judges, Beltran dished out a lot more punishment to Ricky Burns than Crawford did against the Scotsman. Bud’s the real deal, but Ray ain’t no joke.
Anyway, I agree that Crawford’s ability to adjust against Gamboa showed his considerable ring intelligence and that he can be in entertaining fights if matched right. I’m looking forward to seeing more smarts and more guts from America’s latest standout.
BUD TEACHES GAMBY HOW TO MAMBO
Crawford-Gamboa was a nice treat to all boxing fans. Kudos to Yuriorkis for showing the fighting spirit of Che Guevarra… but Terence showed that technique beats pure power. Man! He’s got bombs in both hands! I wonder if the long ring absence cost Gamboa the fight. Maybe he could blame it on 50 Cent and jump ship to Golden Boy Promotions, where he could line up great opponents at will…
Anywayz, what are your thoughts about the future of the aforementioned fighters and their possible immediate opponents…
Is an immediate rematch a possibility? How about Crawford-Vasquez for the vacant ring lightweight title?
Thanks. – markslain
I don’t think an immediate rematch is a possibility. Crawford’s promoter, Top Rank, knew that Gamboa was a risky first title defense but worth it due to HBO’s guaranteed backing and the payoff in terms of exposure, regional fan base building and respect within the boxing world. However, don’t expect them to roll the dice with the same little badass immediately. (Besides, the last thing Gamboa needs is to face Crawford again.)
I think Crawford vs. Vazquez is all but impossible now that the reigning IBF titleholder is part of Haymon Nation. Top Rank CEO Bob Arum ain’t too fond of Mr. Haymon, and I’m not sure how keen HBO is on the uber-adviser given some of his business moves in the last 18 months.
I think we could see Crawford vs. Belteran and vs. former titleholders Juan Diaz and Roman “Rocky” Martinez because of those fighter’s affiliation with Top Rank. Mandatory title defenses against Paulus Moses and Jorge Linares are also possible given the high WBO ranking those two former beltholders have. (However, Linares is also highly ranked in the WBA and WBC – and I have to imagine that his ties with GBP will steer him toward a showdown with WBC titleholder Omar Figueroa Jr. If I was advising Linares, I’d tell him to go after Figueroa – it's a more winnable fight, IMO.)
You are right about the Crawford-Gamboa matchup proving that technique trumps raw speed and power, or in Bud’s case, how a superior foundation can help a boxer with lesser athletic talent catch and clip a more naturally gifted fighter.
Crawford’s solid fundamentals (technique, balance, coordination, timing, etc.) is the reason – along with his more active schedule and bigger size – I picked him to beat the former Cuban amateur star. It was a pick I was fairly confident with during fight week (when doubts often creep into the minds of us ego-driven pundits) and even during the difficult time Crawford had in early rounds of the fight.
I really felt that all Crawford basically had to do was hold his form and wait for the ever-impetuous Gamboa to get overaggressive and make his usual technical/defensive mistakes.
And damn if it wasn’t satisfying as f__k watching that squat “super flea” get rocked down to his boots and dumped on his ass. I’ve never been a big fan of Gamby’s as you can probably tell from previous mailbags. However, I have a lot of respect for him after Saturday’s fight. He went in there and tried to TAKE Crawford’s title. And he didn’t look to stink the joint out after he got rocked and dropped. He stood his ground, took a gamble and went out on his shield like an O.G.
I hope Gamboa bounces back from this setback. Personally, I don’t think he’s suited for lightweight. He’s too short and he looks too muscled up at 135 pounds. I think he should drop down to 130 pounds and target a contender like the unbeaten but seemingly vulnerable Javier Fortuna or even the winner of the IBF junior lightweight title rematch between Argenis Mendez and Rances Barthelemy. Either matchup would pit Cuban vs. Dominican or Cuban vs. Cuban and could potentially do well in Gamboa’s adopted home city of Miami.
There’s no reason for Gamboa to consider “jumping ship” (it ain’t like he’s got the legal reason to do so and I doubt 50 Cent would just allow him to leave). Curtis Jackson’s SMS Promotions works well with Top Rank and I’m sure would also work well with Sampson Boxing, Iron Mike Production and Warriors Boxing (the promoters of Fortuna, Mendez and Barthelemy).
PROPS TO CRAWFORD AND GAMBOA
It's been a few good weeks of boxing!
Crawford impressed me with his great poise and patience in this fight. I thought he did a great job of gauging Gamboa's hand speed for the first 3-4 rounds, and then figured out what adjustments to make in order to take out Gamby.
Can Miguel Vasquez and Crawford make an exciting fight? Seems like Crawford has beaten the best at this weight besides Vasquez, but at the same time it doesn't seem to me that he is ready (physically) to move up in weight. I don't think he would have the same success at the very deep 140 lb division that is full of heavy handed fighters. Do you think that Mikey Garcia will come up to fight Crawford anytime soon?
By the way, I thought Gamboa looked rejuvenated and exciting again. His hand speed was a sight to behold and worthy of his nickname. The heart he demonstrated was inspiring. After his last 2 fights I really didn't care to watch him fight again, but after tonight, I can't wait to see his next fight! I think he has no business in the lightweight division against a guy like Crawford. Not to take anything away from Crawford, but I felt that the size difference was too much for Gamboa. To me, he is much better suited to fight 2 divisions below at featherweight. I'd love to see him fight Nonito Donaire or Abner Mares.
Who do see winning these fights if fought at the welterweight limit?
Guerrero vs Provo
Kamegai vs Alvarado
Rios vs Maidana
Keep up the good work Doug! – Mainor
Thanks, Mainor, I’ll try.
I was also impressed with Crawford’s poise/patience. That was his most formidable quality against Gamboa, in my opinion. I knew going in that he was the younger, bigger, busier boxer with the more sound fundamentals, but even though he always seemed to have a cool head on his shoulders, I wasn’t 100-percent sure how he would react if a little dynamo like Gamboa got off to a fast start against him.
Well, Crawford passed that test with flying colors because he never once seemed intimidated or even flustered during the first four rounds of the bout. I hate to toot my own horn (actually, that’s a damn lie and you know it – I LOVE tooting my own horn), but two or three rounds into the bout I was confident that Crawford’s patience would pay off (with a little help from Gamboa’s froggy nature and lack of defense).
Can Miguel Vazquez and Crawford make an exciting fight? I don’t think so. It takes two to tango and “El Titere” won’t dance the kind of dance that makes for slugfests (or even mildly intense boxing matches).
It seems like Crawford has beaten the best at lightweight besides Vazquez? Really? I beg to differ. Don’t get me wrong, beating Ricky Burns and Yuriorkis Gamboa in back-to-back bouts is impressive stuff, but let’s not go crazy. Burns was on a clear downward slide going into the Crawford fight (and continued to slide on Saturday by losing to Dejan Zlaticanin) and Gamboa is an inactive blown-up featherweight. Beating those two is not the same thing as cleaning out the 135-pound division.
I know it’s not a deep division but I’d like to see Crawford defend his title more than once before declaring him out of 135-pound challenges. Beyond promotional stablemate Ray Beltran, I’d be interested in seeing Crawford take on a few dangerous fringe contenders, such as Hank Lundy, Rustam Nugaev, Edner Cherry or even Mickey Bey.
I agree that Gamboa looked rejuvenated and exciting again vs. Crawford. I don’t think he can get back down to 126 pounds without a struggle given his age and the amount of upper-body muscle he’s put on in recent years, but I think he can do junior lightweight and there might be some good fights for him there. The major 130-pounds titleholders (Takashi Uchiyama, Mikey Garcia and the Barthelemy-Mendez winner) are all skilled boxer-punchers (WBC beltholder Takashi Miura isn’t as polished as the other titleholders but the Japanese southpaw makes up for it by being a rugged, relentless badass).
Nice welterweight matchups (you blood-thirsty S.O.B.)!
Guerrero vs Provo – Provo by close decisión.
Kamegai vs Alvarado – Alvarado by close decisión.
Rios vs Maidana – Maidana by split decision
All three fights would be bloody, brutal wars of attrition.
MAKING CRAWFORD AN ACTION HERO
I never thought the words “Terence Crawford” and “entertaining fight” could exist in the same sentence. I sat live through his awful fight on the undercard of Miguel Cotto's fight in Orlando (vs. Delvin Rodriguez last October) and had to actually apologize to my wife at the time for making her sit through it. That being said, great performance against Gamboa. If Arum wants to turn him into a star it needs to be against guys who comes forward and throw punches. He actually made me want to watch him again in this fight. Every other time I've seen him I couldn't have cared less if I saw him again.
What do you think? – J in Fla.
I agree with you. Despite his obvious skill, talent and maturity, I was not a Crawford fan or on his bandwagon until this year. I respect Max Kellerman but I openly criticized his heavy hype of the Nebraska native (along with his HBO cohorts).
Although Crawford had a very good 2013 (beating the more experienced and much bigger Breidis Prescott, once-beaten Alejandro Sanabria and unbeaten Andrey Klimov), I thought it was just plain silly to view him the best (or even one of the best) lightweights in the world. None of those guys he beat last year were top-10 contenders. And he wasn’t exactly Mr. Excitement in any of those fights either (the Klimov bout put me to sleep). I certainly wasn’t as impressed as Kellerman & Co., and went so far as to pick Burns to beat the untested young American.
I was dead wrong about that fight, and I give credit where it is due. Crawford showed me a lot in the manner in which he traveled to a foreign titleholder’s home turf and took care of business. He showed us all even more against Gamboa. So, I’m more than happy to consider Crawford one of the best lightweights now (I still view Vazquez as No. 1 due to his more extensive 135-pound track record) and if he continues to entertain I’ll probably become one of his fans.
THE ‘TURNED-SOUTHPAW’ & THE WARRIOR
What a great fight! It had everything I want to see: skill, willingness to engage and a great crowd. Crawford went to southpaw because he needed to close the distance and get his jab closer to Gamboa – so he could work off the jab and slide the right hook over Gamboa's face-first attacks. That was obvious – but it almost got him knocked out, at first. Good thing Gamboa doesn't think he has to keep his hands up! If he did, and did a little body work on the inside, he would be much more difficult to bet against when he faces accurate punchers. But his confidence is a lot of fun! I hope to see more fights with skilled, courageous guys.
M. Garcia vs Crawford? – JW
I think Mikey Garcia vs. Gamboa is a more realistic matchup than Crawford-Garcia. Mikey just moved to 130 pounds last November and he’s only fought twice at the new weight. I don’t think he’s ready to move lightweight just yet (especially against a titleholder as complete and formidable as Crawford, who beat him in the amateurs).
Of course, Garcia won’t be fighting at all until his contractual dispute with Top Rank is settled.
I don’t know about Roy Jones Jr.’s opinion that Crawford is the best switch-hitter since Marvelous Marvin Hagler but it’s clear that the lightweight is just as comfortable and effective fighting out of a southpaw stance as he is boxing as a righty.
JUNIOR’S RING RANKING
First time write-in but I've enjoyed reading your Monday and Friday Mailbags for the past couple of years now. Hopefully I make it in at some point.
I'll start by saying I'm not the biggest Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. fan and I think he is a knucklehead who comes off way too entitled and selfish but the guy has a solid chin and can brawl with the best of them. I noticed in The Ring's current rankings that he is not rated in either your middleweight or super middleweight rankings (I know he only has one super middleweight match and one catchweight between super middle and light heavy match) but he does have a somewhat decent (take that with a grain a salt) resume at best. Could you explain why he's currently not ranked in the top 10 of either weight division?
He gets a lot of credit from me the way he battled back in that 12th round against Maravilla. If he just would have started off the fight with that same passion we probably would have seen a much closer split decision instead of a unanimous decision. Maravilla probably would have won regardless because he was too agile but that is neither here nor there now. We have to deal with facts and not proposed assumptions.
The reason I bring this up is because you guys have a poll question on your website asking what the result could possibly be in a match between him and Carl Froch. I would definitely spend my hard earned dollars to watch that on PPV.
Also on the note of "proposed assumptions," I had to throw at least one mythical matchup just for the fun of it:
Salvador Sanchez vs Manny Pacquiao (both at featherweight)
Keep up the good work and take care. – Eli, Austin, TX
Thanks Eli. Congrats! You made it in with your first try.
I think Sanchez would have handled Pacquiao over the distance at 126 pounds. Sanchez by clear UD. The Mexican boxer-technician had the poise, the jab, the rhythm, the movement, the counter-punching ability, the body attack and the incredible stamina (along with an unbreakable chin) to tame the featherweight version of the Pac-Man.
I think Froch-Chavez is one of the best matchups that can be made in the 168-pound division (and I don’t count Junior out). Let’s hope it happens soon.
Regarding your question about Chavez being unrated in THE RING’s middleweight and super middleweight rankings, it’s real simple: It’s clear to the magazine’s Ratings Panel that homeboy will never make 160 pounds again and he hasn’t done enough at 168 to merit a super middleweight ranking.
Don’t get me wrong, we like Junior. We know the “son of the legend” can fight despite being a lazy pot head.
Chavez was rated as high as No. 3 in THE RING’s middleweight rankings (when he was 46-0-1 and had made the third defense of his WBC belt with an impressive seventh-round stoppage of Andy Lee two years ago). Even after Sergio Martinez outpointed him in September 2012, Chavez remained ranked between No. 3 and No. 6. However, he was dropped from the middleweight rankings when he proved unable to make even 168 pounds against Bryan Vera (who most agree should have won their 10-round catchweight bout that went to Junior via controversial UD).
Chavez looked pretty good outboxing and outslugging the game Vera over 12 rounds in their super middleweight rematch this past March, but that decision victory was not enough to crack THE RING’s 168-pound rankings. Vera, a fringe contender at 160, simply hasn’t done enough at super middleweight for that rematch win to merit contender status.
ANDRE WARD & THE ESPYs
What's up Doug,
So Andre Ward was nominated as one of 2014's best fighters? Am I missing something? I didn't realize beating Edwin Rodriguez in 2013 would get you that type of recognition. Must be very prestigious. – Matt, Atl, GA
LOL. It is quite prestigious in the realm of general sports fans. It’s a joke in the world of hardcore boxing fans.
But Ward’s nomination shouldn’t surprise you. Fans vote in the winners of the ESPY awards and the boxers who are usually nominated are high-profile Americans. Since the ESPYs began 20 years ago only three non-American boxers have won the “Best Fighter” award (formerly the “Best Boxer” award prior to 2006 and the rise of MMA/UFC in the U.S.), Felix Trinidad (2001), Lennox Lewis (2002) and Pacquiao (2009 and 2011).
Floyd Mayweather has won it for 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012. If he wins it for 2013, ESPN might as well rename it the “Mayweather Award.”
THE SEMI-RETIRED WARD
I feel very strongly that Andre Ward should be REQUIRED to fight by a certain date, (and soon), or be stripped of his title. He has been out of the ring so long that I have to wonder how much he has declined in skill. He should defend his title or let someone else defend it!!! – Mike
Ward fought last November, a unanimous decision over Edwin Rodriguez in defense of his RING and WBA super middleweight titles. Prior to that fight, Ward had been out of the ring for 14 months but his skill and timing did not seem diminished at all.
If Ward was among THE RING’s super middleweight contenders, he would have until the end November to schedule a fight. Any contender who goes more than a year without fighting is dropped from the rankings due to inactivity.
However, Ward is the magazine’s 168-pound champion, which means he can go a little bit longer without fighting before being dropped. RING champions are stripped of their title if they do not schedule a fight in their weight class (or any other weight class) for 18 months. (I obviously can’t speak for the WBA, which has no need to for stripping its champions when it can just hand out “regular” and “interim” titles.)
Hopefully Ward will work out his legal issues with Dan Goossen and get back in the ring before the year is out.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer