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Terence Crawford: The Greatest Hits

Crawford tags John Molina Jr. Photo by Mikey Williams/ Top Rank
17
Jun

Terence Crawford is widely recognized as one of the best active fighters in the world today. The Omaha, Nebraska switch-hitter has combined speed, skills and an unerring ability to dissect his opponents to capture world titles in three weight classes – from lightweight to welterweight.

“Bud” was once a promising amateur, beating the likes of Danny Garcia and Mikey Garcia in the unpaid ranks. He lost at the 2008 Olympic trials and, after winning a handful of national titles, he departed with a record of 58-12.

“My goal was never to become an Olympic gold medalist,” Crawford told The Ring. “I never had the drive or ambition to be an Olympic gold medalist. My dream was always to become a world champion.”

Crawford spent the early stages of his professional career honing his craft before getting an opportunity to impress the Top Rank brass. His big break came against knockout artist Briedis Prescott, who he widely outboxed, and Crawford never looked back.



He later beat Ricky Burns to become WBO 135-pound titleholder and then added the vacant Ring Magazine title by outpointing Ray Beltran.

Crawford then moved up to junior welterweight where he became one of the division’s most decorated fighters. He beat Thomas Dulorme in six;  for the vacant WBO title, thoroughly outpointed Viktor Postol; for the Ring Magazine championship and the WBC belt, and finally made history by becoming the undisputed champion at the expense of IBF and WBA titleholder Julius Indongo, who he knocked out in three rounds.

From there, the now 32-year-old jumped up to welterweight and claimed the WBO title at the expense of Jeff Horn and has since made three defenses.

The Crawford collection

Although Crawford is more than happy with his achievements to date, he still feels that he can break new ground.

“I want to become undisputed in the welterweight division,” said the pound-for-pound star. “I feel like there’s a lot of talented fighters in the division and things that are unfinished in this division. Me conquering this division would cement my legacy.

“I’ve accomplished a lot. What is there to accomplish other than to try to become undisputed in another division?”

Crawford isn’t buying into the talk that other top fighters being with rival promoters and television networks precludes him from facing them.

“There’s no side of the street; that was made up,” stated Crawford. “You’ve got Kell Brook calling me out, you’ve got Shawn Porter saying he’s willing to fight, you’ve got [Yordenis] Ugas saying he’s willing to fight me, and you just recently got Keith Thurman saying he’s willing to fight me, and Errol Spence.

“None of them are promoted by Top Rank, four of them are promoted by PBC. What happened to this side of the street? It disappeared? They were using that as an excuse to not fight me at the time, they wanted to wait. I’ve already fought two PBC fighters when they were saying, ‘He’s on the wrong side of the street.’

“It’s all about money at the end of the day. Who’s going to get the bigger chunk? What network we’re going to fight on? There’s a lot that goes on into making a fight between two different promotional companies.”

Crawford (36-0, 27 knockouts) is unsure of when he will next fight.

“Hopefully close to the end of the year when things start opening back up,” he said. “I don’t know how things are going to go right now, I don’t have a date. After this pandemic is over, we’ll get back to business.”

And all being equal, who would he most like to fight? “[Manny] Pacquiao and Errol Spence, flip a coin and I’ll take either one.”

Here’s what Crawford had to say about his most memorable nights in the ring to date:

Crawford (right) knew way too much for Amir Khan conqueror Breidis Prescott.

Breidis Prescott
Date/ Venue: March 30, 2013/ Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas
Titles: Junior welterweight non-title bout

“That was the fight that really got me known to a lot of people. That was my first televised fight and I was the co-main event. I was actually supposed to fight on the undercard at 135 and I moved up to 140 on short notice to fight a 10-rounder when I was supposed to fight an eight-rounder.

“I was confident from the jump. That’s a fight I wanted when it was presented to me. A lot of people didn’t want me to take that [fight] because I hadn’t fought that caliber of fighter yet, but I always believed in my skills and ability to be at the top. I knew in my heart he couldn’t beat me. I didn’t feel he was on the same level as me at that time. Everybody was kind of nervous, saying, ‘He’s a power-puncher, he beat Amir Khan.’ I’m just like, ‘Alright, just watch.’ I’m confident in every fight, but there was just no way I was letting this dude beat me.”

Result: Crawford UD 10

Crawford won his first world title at the expense of Scotsman Ricky Burns. Photo courtesy of Sky Sports

Ricky Burns
Date/ Venue: March 1, 2014/ Scottish Exhibition Centre, Glasgow
Titles: WBO lightweight

“He had just fought [Raymundo] Beltran and got a controversial decision [draw]. A lot of people felt Beltran won. They actually tried to pay me step aside money for them to do the fight again. But I felt I had waited too long, so I wasn’t taking step aside money. I was more concerned with getting my shot at the title.

“I went over there in front of a hostile crowd; a lot of people at the fight was booing me and against me. For me to have that crowd so quiet was big for me. It meant everything to me [to win the world title]; that is what I had worked so hard for. Not only beating him in tremendous fashion but going to Scotland and not letting anything faze me and becoming world champion. That was my dream, that was my goal. My friends and family threw a victory party [when I got home]. I just chilled out and had fun.”

Result: Crawford UD 12

Crawford overcame a slow start to topple Yuriorkis Gamboa. Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Yuriorkis Gamboa
Date/ Venue: June 28, 2014/ CenturyLink Center, Omaha
Titles: WBO lightweight

“Mikey Garcia turned down the fight [with Gamboa] and I was offered the fight later.

“It was a dream come true to become world champion and have my first defense in my hometown, and to see the turnout was amazing. That was my first fight in Omaha, Nebraska. I’d been asking to fight there my whole career. When I signed with Bob Arum, he told me, ‘When you become a world champion, we’ll bring a fight to Omaha.’

“They got Gamboa, I didn’t get to choose my opponent. I said, ‘I don’t care who I fight, I just want to fight.’ Everybody was like, you’re fighting Gamboa, he’s one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. I don’t know if you’re ready for this, he’s an Olympic gold medalist. I’m like, ‘OK, well, he’s hasn’t fought me yet!’ That was a fight where a lot of people I know didn’t believe in me. That’s cool, because they were up front with it. That’s what made the fight entertaining because nobody knew who was going to win.

“I don’t believe he won all the early rounds like everyone else does. I felt he won the majority, probably like 3-1. He was fast; I couldn’t catch up to him at times. That goes to show the caliber of fighter he is, I can’t take nothing away from him, he was doing a lot of great things in there and I had to adjust to him. I felt all the questions were answered that day.”

Result: Crawford TKO 9

Crawford (right) in an underrated triumph over the then-unbeaten world titleholder Viktor Postol.

Viktor Postol
Date/ Venue: July 23, 2016/ MGM Grand, Las Vegas
Titles: Ring Magazine, WBC and WBO junior welterweight

“Everyone was looking at as a 50-50 fight at the time. A lot of people were saying I was scared to fight Viktor Postol, he was going to beat me. He had just stopped [Lucas] Matthysse.

“That’s a fight a lot of people started to push for the fight, not knowing I wanted the fight just as much as they did. When it didn’t get made at first, people started blaming me for it not happening. When the fight did come about, a lot of people were second-guessing if I was going to be able to handle his size, reach, jab and power. I was disappointed that I wasn’t getting as much credit for my skills as he was for his skills.

“After that fight, I felt like me beating him in the fashion I did hurt me more than it benefited me because they wanted to take away everything they said prior to the fight. ‘He was just a straight-up robot, he was just a basic fighter, we knew he wasn’t going to beat you, he’s slow.’ I’m like, ‘What happened to all the other stuff you all wrote about?’ Why is it not, ‘I’m just that good?’ It was to do with me taking things away from him, he couldn’t fight the way he wanted to because of me. Don’t take credit away from me because I was that much better than him at that time.

“That was a great fight for me; it was another unbeaten fighter, a unification fight, a fighter coming off one of the biggest wins of his career, a fighter that’s been avoided for a few years. I look it as one of the biggest fights of my career.

“It meant a lot. I had already collected The Ring Magazine belt against Ray Beltran, and this was my second Ring belt in my second division against a great opponent in a unification fight. But it was a bittersweet moment for me because I didn’t get the credit I deserved. After the fight there was so much negativity going around. I worked so hard to get this victory. Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of people who said I boxed tremendously and looked great, but a lot of people were so negative about it.”

Result: Crawford UD 12

Crawford on the attack against Felix Diaz. Photo by Mikey Williams / Top Rank

Felix Diaz
Date/ Venue: May 20, 2017/ Madison Square Garden, New York
Titles: WBC and WBO junior welterweight

“That was a great fight for me. Felix Diaz came off a big win over Sammy Vasquez at 147 and he was coming down to junior welterweight, so he was going to be the bigger guy. He also had a controversial loss to Lamont Peterson.

“I always say Twitter made that fight because a lot of writers on Twitter were saying, ‘Why don’t you fight Felix Diaz? Nobody wants to fight him. Everybody’s scared of him.’ He was calling me out, [Adrien] Broner, all the top fighters, and so he should. As a fighter you should want to fight the best. But I felt a lot of people were coming at me, wanting to see that fight. Me being the guy I am, loving the challenges, I took the challenge and I beat him every round and stopped him.”

Result: Crawford RTD 10

Crawford took the wind out of Julius Indongo to become the undisputed champion at 140 pounds. Photo by Mikey Williams/ Top Rank

Julius Indongo
Date/ Venue: August 19, 2017/ Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, Nebraska
Titles: Ring Magazine, IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO junior welterweight

“He’s big, he’s long, he’s powerful, he can box, he’s tough, he’s won two world titles in two different countries and this is the third champion he’s fought back-to-back. He’s coming from Africa to take my titles in my backyard to become undisputed. I understood the buildup to that fight; he beat two great champions, [Eduard] Troyanovsky and Ricky Burns.

“Me stopping him to the body in the third round to become undisputed champion of the world, I was like, ‘That’s unreal! Wow! Nobody is above me!’ That was one of the highlights of my career to this day. It goes Ricky Burns, then it goes Indongo. There are a lot of great fighters who haven’t done that before. I’ve got the pleasure of saying, ‘I was undisputed world champion.'”

Result: Crawford KO 3

Crawford (left) nails Jeff Horn. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/ Getty Images

Jeff Horn
Date/ Venue: June 9, 2018/ MGM Grand, Las Vegas
Titles: WBO welterweight

“I felt great, I felt stronger, I felt more relaxed and energized, and I didn’t have to worry about cutting weight, so it was good for me mentally and physically. I looked at that as my first fight at 147 and I put on a great show.

“Jeff Horn was considered one of the biggest welterweights in the division. He had come off a controversial win with Pacquiao but, at the same time, you see how strong he looked against Pacquiao. A lot of people were wondering how I was going to fair with his strength, size and ruggedness. A lot of people thought I was going to be too small, that I wouldn’t be able to stand up to him because he was this big ‘ole bull. But I felt like I did more than a great job handling his abilities.

“I was able to stop him when Manny Pacquiao couldn’t and that was just the icing on the cake – welcome to the welterweight division.

“It felt great, it’s always great winning a world title, no matter where it’s at. That one was special because at the time I was calling out Spence, Garcia, Thurman, and I was being ranked among the champions of the welterweight division. Everybody who was at the top of the welterweight division, they were kind of disappointed that I was getting so much praise and I hadn’t had a welterweight fight yet. So me winning that title in my first fight showed I was on my way to becoming one of the top welterweights in the division.”

Result: Crawford TKO 9

Crawford (right) left it late but he eventually secured an impressive 12-round stoppage over Jose Benavidez Jr. Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Jose Benavidez
Date/ Venue: October 13, 2018/ CHI Health Center, Omaha
Titles: WBO welterweight

“The Benevidez fight was one of my favorites because we had so much history of going back-and-forth with each other. We really don’t like each other, even to this day, and for me to knock him out in the fashion just shut him up.

“He had two fights prior to me after getting shot [in the leg] and he won both. There was no, ‘Oh, my leg is bad’ He did get shot and took a big injury to his leg and I never second-guessed that. But he wanted to fight me. He said, ‘I’m not going to use my leg as an excuse. That’s not going to bother me.’ They promoted all these videos, showing him sprinting, doing things so people wouldn’t say his left leg was an issue. Leading up to the fight, nobody is talking about his leg, but once I knocked him out, it’s, ‘He’s a one-legged fighter, he couldn’t move on his leg.’ If you watch Benavidez fight, have you ever seen him get on his toes and move around? No! I say you can’t please them all; damned if you do, damned if you don’t, so I just say, ‘Fuck it [laughs].’”

Result: Crawford TKO 12

 

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright

 

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