Calm, calculating Terence Crawford takes aim at junior welterweight
[springboard type=”video” id=”1512357″ player=”ring003″ width=”648″ height=”511″ ]
Terence Crawford had a hell of a 2014 campaign that ended with the 27-year-old in possession of the WBO 135-pound title as well as THE RING lightweight title. A dominant performance against Ricky Burns was followed by a scintillating knockout of Yuriorkis Gamboa and punctuated with a near shutout of Ray Beltran. His performance led to being named the Fighter of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America.
From a virtual unknown in 2013 to Fighter of the Year in 2014 is quite the leap, but Crawford (25-0, 17 knockouts) is unfazed by his newfound social status. The only thing he is concerned about is doubling down on his 2014 campaign with a stellar 2015 that kicks off on Saturday when he makes the jump to the junior welterweight division against Thomas Dulorme.
“Nothing has really changed,” Crawford says when addressing his ascent in 2014. “You have a little more of the big time guys noticing you but, other than that, everything is still the same.”
Crawford isn’t the talkative type. You won’t catch him on social media throwing money into the air or trying to incite conflict for followers. He’s just a young man from Omaha who is looking to feed his family and become the best boxer that he can possibly be.
“I don’t feel like I need to do any of that,” Crawford explains. “I feel like when I say something that’s what I mean and that’s what I’m about. I’m all showmanship in the ring but all the unnecessary things that people do I don’t feel like I need to do because that’s just not me.”
Crawford is truly his own man. He wraps his own hands, has three coaches who help him prepare for fights and kind of does things his way. Even in his fights, he sees something that isn’t going the way he likes it and he makes adjustments that fit his needs.
For example, take a look at the Gamboa fight. In the early rounds, Crawford found himself struggling to deal with the Cuban’s speed and was clipped by the awkward Olympic gold medalist. So what did he do? He adjusted.
“I saw that I just kept coming up short with the right hand coming over the top,” he reflects. “I figured that instead of catching him pulling out I would catch him coming in. I feel like my right hook was going to be the key to catching him coming in and he wouldn’t see it coming. And that’s what happened.”
With his weight being another issue, Crawford realized that it was time to depart before it spelled his demise. Crawford likes his risks cold and calculated. One misstep can send him back to the abyss of relative anonymity that he came from. Which is why his 2015 campaign just might be better than his last.
Making the jump to the 140-pound division puts him in more lucrative matchups, where the likes of Ruslan Provodnikov, Lucas Matthysse, Adrien Broner and Lamont Peterson all dwell. The decision to move up in weight was a no-brainer for Crawford.
“My body is growing and filling out a little more and I really struggled to make weight in my last fight (against Ray Beltran),” Crawford says. With his first bout in a new weight class being for the vacant WBO 140-pound title against the once-beaten Dulorme, Crawford says he is pleased with how things are going and is looking to capitalize on his accomplishments last year in order to continue climbing the ladder to success. “I feel like I need to use my momentum to my advantage. I don’t want to take any steps backwards.”
Despite Dulorme being as much as a 6-1 underdog, the Puerto Rican presents a unique set of obstacles for Crawford. He’s coming down in weight, which will likely mean that he will be the biggest opponent the Omaha native has faced. He’s a formidable challenge, regardless of what the odds makers suggest.
“The odds makers might see one thing but I respect all fighters and I’ve never underestimated anyone,” Crawford says. “He has a sharp jab and a nice right hand. I have nothing bad to say about him. But I don’t worry about (his size), I worry about what I need to do to neutralize his strengths.”
Should Crawford come out on top, his next stop will be to New York City, where he will accept his “Fighter of the Year” award at the BWAA diner on April 24. After that, he will head to Las Vegas to get a look at Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao as they do battle in the biggest fight of the century thus far. After that? Crawford will just go back home to his family, head to the gym and wait for the next call.
But don’t expect him to jump another weight class, no matter how inviting it may seem after the Mayweather and Pacquiao madness subsides. It’s always one step at a time for Terrence Crawford.
“I don’t have any thoughts of moving up 147 because I just got here,” Crawford says. “Right now I’m focused on being the No. 1 guy at 140 I and fight the best the division has to offer.”