The highlights of Terence Crawford’s career has thus far circumnavigated around being a three-weight world champion and a former undisputed Super Lightweight champion of the world. A resume most in the game would dream of, yet it still feels the unblemished record is missing another piece, a single fight that gives Terence’s career recognition in generations to come.
Crawford is not the only pound-for-pound sensation in the same sticky spot. Vasyl Lomachenko is in need of a Mikey Garcia – and visa-versa – Oleksandr Usyk is in need of an Anthony Joshua and Naoya Inoue a Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. As for Crawford, he has a whole plethora of names that would take his own appellation to a new stratosphere.
Manny Pacquiao has long been the Omaha, Nebraska natives dream match-up. But in this young man’s game, the real catch here would be a Garcia, Keith Thurman or the biggest fish in the Welterweight Sea, Errol Spence Jr.
Until at least 2019, those plans are on hold, as Crawford 33-0(24KO’s) defends his WBO Welterweight strap – won in June when stopping Jeff Horn (W TKO 9) – against well-rounded, unbeaten, former Golden Boy of boxing, Jose Benavidez.
At the time when Floyd Mayweather was swaying back-and-forth from retirement and comebacks, the name Benavidez 27-0(18KO’s) was one on the lips of many boxing observers. He and young star Frankie Gomez were set to take huge leaps in the professional game, and the pair were already being lined up as opponents in a generational pound-for-pound battle.
Now it is strange to think that both Gomez and Benavidez were being projected as the next best things. Gomez struggled and has now slipped off the radar, while Benavidez is now being lined up as an opponent and not a direct challenger to one of the pound-for-pound best.
In some senses fighting one of the planet’s best was always in the script for Benavidez and it has worked out that way too. But Jose was meant to be the favourite, or at least be given equal odds at winning. Instead he is a huge underdog, given little-to-no chance by everyone in the game.
Jose is no longer even considered as the best Benavidez in boxing anymore, with his brother David reigning as Super Middleweight champion, with his own possibilities of being one half of a super fight against Gilberto Ramirez.
There is little doubting the ability that Benavidez has. At 26-years old and with a ridiculous 6’2” frame as a Welterweight, he could cause all the problems in the world for a former Lightweight like Crawford.
But Crawford holds a natural 147lb frame, having glided through the weight classes, always looking a division or two above his opposition.
‘Bud’ has made easy work of taller opponents in the past, with a shutout over Viktor Postol (W UD 12) and a demolition of Julius Indongo (W KO 3). And while Benavidez is a highly skilled operator with a decent dig, he is not in the same league as the adored home fighter.
Omaha will be treated once again, having waited nearly two years to see their fledgling son return. After Benavidez has his early successes, Crawford will begin to set his authority on the contest. Switching from orthodox to southpaw, Terence will pick his moments as he calculates his way to the perfect victory. By round 8, the challenger will have already hit the canvas, and will do so again as Crawford ratchets up the intensity, paving his way to a 5th straight stoppage.