By Peter Wells
Omaha, Nebraska was once again kicked up a few decibels as local star Terence Crawford25-0(17) rolled into the CenturyLink Center. The 27 year old world champion utterly dominated the tough veteran world title contender, Raymundo Beltran 29-7-1(17).
The 33 year old Beltran had no answer to the work rate, accuracy and speed of Crawford, who replied to every attack Beltran could get through with, making the job awfully simple for the three scoring judges who chalked up totals of 119-109 (twice) and 120-108.
Crawford showed throughout the 12 rounds why he is so highly rated, not only in the United States, but across the globe. Beltran has proved in the past to be a far from ideal opponent for many world title holders, including Ricky Burns, who last year was lucky to retain the WBO Lightweight crown that Crawford now owns. Crawford however made little fuss, moving well while responding when required to quell the attacks and break the confidence of Beltran.
Crawford could not become the first man since Ammeth Diaz in 2008 to stop the Mexican, but he certainly turned it up in the later rounds as he sensed the stoppage in his sights. Beltran found himself trapped against the ropes several times in the final 4 rounds.
With two defences notched up of his WBO crown, Crawford may now be set to search for new challenges at Light Welterweight. And at 5’8″ Crawford certainly already has the right frame, a 70″ reach will also continue to cause problems even at the division 5lbs up.
Beltran landed more than the occasional right cross, but every time the underdog had success he received a fist full of leather in kind.
Talk has been rife in the Top Rank camp that a huge match-up between Crawford and Manny Pacquiao could be down the line for the pair. But with a move to Light Welterweight not yet made, it would be wise for both Crawford and Bob Arum to keep that clash for slightly further down the line, possibly late 2016.
In the co-feature Evgeny Gradovich 19-0-1(9) held onto his IBF Featherweight title, but only by way of a split draw with unbeaten Jayson Velez22-0-1(16).
Velez remained consistent throughout the 12 rounder, a high work rate helping him build an early advantage. Gradovich cranked up the pressure as the fight wore on, testing the solid chin of Velez more and more as he seemed to edge into control in an entertaining encounter.
Velez showed his grit, but Gradovich seemed to miss the chance to turn things up on the less experienced Velez, despite having more contests. Although he seemed to have done just enough to take the victory. The scores read 114-114, 115-113 Velez and 117-111 Gradovich.
Gradovich will now be set to defend his title against mandatory challenger Lee Selby early next year.
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