Terence Crawford will have more than a few things on his mind in his latest world title defense in New York.
The 29-year old, idolised in Omaha and respected by everyone in the boxing fraternity, has allowed for his fists to do the talking in a career that takes one step closer to a defining fight.
It seems that the call for Terence Crawford to be pitted with boxing icon Manny Pacquiao has been dragging on for years, and many will feel that the bout should be happening instead of Pacquiao taking on the unknown Jeff Horn in Australia.
But for now, the WBC and WBO Super Lightweight ruler concentrates on sweeping the 140lbs division, with one eye twitching towards a unification with IBF and WBA boss Julius Indongo.
Crawford 30-0(21KO’s) fights for the first time this year after a hectic 2016 in and outside of the ring. Crawford’s performances inside the squared circle were mesmerizing, including a unification win over Victor Postol – a surprisingly one-sided affair.
But outside of boxing, Crawford saw himself in trouble with the law, when he was in and out of court rooms after causing criminal damage to a local body shop where he refused to pay the full amount owed for work carried out on his car. Unsatisfied with the work done, Crawford lowered the car himself, but by doing so, damaged the hydraulic lift.
Crawford spent just 8 hours in jail, after being convicted, before he was released on a $10,000 bond.
But with that episode seemingly behind him, ‘Bud’ can look ahead to this latest title defence without the distractions that did little to affect his brilliance in the ring last year.
The teak-tough Felix Diaz 19-1(9KO’s) will be the first of 2017 to attempt to dethrone Terence at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
The far shorter, but heavier, Diaz from Dominican Republic fights out of the southpaw stance and comes forward in fast barrages, which comes as no surprise given his 5’5” frame.
Diaz’s only loss came contentiously in a Welterweight contest with Lamont Peterson, and holds notable wins over Adrian Granados and Sammy Vasquez.
But one must ponder what effect coming down 7lbs will have on Diaz against a Crawford that often dwarfs his opponents with his 5’8” frame and long arms.
Crawford will have making a statement here on his mind, and he has become extremely adept at stopping his opponents when he has a knockout win high on his agenda.
Diaz is as tough as they come, and will prove extremely difficult to halt his bursts forward, let alone get him out of there inside the distance. But Felix seems made for the vast skillset that Crawford possesses.
Diaz will be a tough target early on, but as his frustration grows, Crawford will begin to sit down on his punches with Felix’s head movement becoming less apparent.
In late 2015, Crawford fought a similar fighter to Diaz in Dierry Jean – a shorter man with a points loss to Peterson. And in that bout, Crawford boxed excellently before finding a crunching stoppage in the 10th against his tired opponent.
The same looks set to happen here as Diaz’s energy drains in the latter stages of the contest. When opening up, Crawford is an extremely dangerous foe and he can open up to force a technical knockout in round 9.