Bill Tibbs was in attendance at Madison Square Garden this past Saturday night to witness the Terence Crawford vs. Amir Khan fight. He filed this report.
New York, one of the great walking cities in the world, saw me hitting a lot of fun spots this past week – The Empire State Building, Radio City Music Hall, Staten Island, The Beacon Theatre, The Ed Sullivan Theatre, The Lincoln Centre, The World Trade Centre memorial, Central Park, Times Square and of course a pastrami sandwich from Katz’s Deli and a cold one at boxing shrine - Jimmy’s Corner. But, the real reason I was there was to watch boxing’s best fighter ply his trade Saturday night at the most famous arena in the world.
WBO welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford (35-0, 26 KO’s) thrilled a little over 14,000 fans with a TKO 6 over former unified super lightweight world champion Amir Khan (33-5, 20 KO’s) on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Some thoughts on fight week in the Big Apple…
-Crawford vs. Khan – Amir Khan was hoping to be able to outbox and out-speed Nebraska’s Terence Crawford Saturday night, fight off father time for a while and keep himself relevant as a player in the welterweight division. Khan’s chin, never his best feature in the ring, appears to be shot at the world-class level. The first hard counter that Crawford caught Khan with (in fairness it was a picture perfect counter right on the button) had him wobbling and on the canvas in the opening frame. He hung on until the 6th when an accidental low blow caused the fight to be stopped. Crawford, well ahead on the scorecards, picked up his 35th win.
-About that low blow – After the fight Khan trainer Virgil Hunter said Khan told him he was hurt and couldn’t continue, Khan claims he didn’t say that and says that he has, “never pulled out of a fight in my life”. Video replay shows the punch was below the belt line but appeared to hit him on the thigh. Perhaps, it dislodged his protective cup, moving it, and causing the injury? Either way, Khan is going to have to take a long, hard look at what he wants to, and can, do next. Khan has the heart, desire and will to fight the best in the world, but it appears he may no longer have the reflexes or whiskers to allow him to do it safely. The stoppage loss was a setback to a possible, huge, all-British Kell Brook bout. Brook was in attendance Saturday night but was reportedly there scouting Crawford.
- The Takeover - I gotta tell ya, Teofimo Lopez certainly revved up the ‘ol cool, factor with his in-ring entrance, walking into Frank Sinatra’s, “New York, New York”. Lopez (13-0, 11 KO’s) scored a KO 5 over former world title challenger, and two-time European lightweight champion, Edis Tatli (31-3, 10 KO’s) with a picture perfect body shot that dropped and stopped him. After the fight, Lopez, who hopes to challenge for a world title in July, said it wasn’t his best training camp but will “go back to the drawing board and come back stronger than ever”. If a clean KO is the result on an off night, he’ll be downright scary on his best night.
-Shakur Stevenson - Undefeated Stevenson, (11-0, 6 KOs), swept the cards against former world title challenger Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz (24-2, 16 KO’s) over ten rounds. Diaz had Freddie Roach and Justin Fortune in his corner. Stevenson, slick and busy, did hear some boos for his unwillingness to engage with the stalking Diaz. After the fights, despite less than a dozen bouts under his belt, Stevenson said he wants any of the champions.
-Return of “El Diamante” - Come backing lightweight Felix “El Diamante” Verdejo (25-1, 16 KO’s) scored a UD 10 over former, interim world champion Bryan Vasquez (37-4, 20 KO’s).
- Keep an eye on this guy - Unbeaten, 154-pound contender, Carlos “El Caballo Bronco” Adames (17-0, 14 KO’s) scored a TKO 4 over Frank Galarza (20-3-2, 12 KO’s) in a bout for the NABF and NABO titles. The Robert Garcia trained Adames looked very good.
-Hometown banger – New York’s Edgar Berlanga (10-0, 10 KO’s) drilled veteran Samir Dos Santos (37-15-3, 26 KO’s) just 46 seconds into the first round. Berlanga, who likes to maximize his pay-to-work ratio, has now scored ten consecutive first round stoppages.
- Great addition to the big stage – Top Rank’s Crystina Poncher has been elevating her game from doing the support bouts for ESPN to doing a lot of the main events (along with the regular ESPN team - Ward, Kellerman, Bradley Jr., Kriegal) and international feeds. This isn’t a woman thing; it’s a great addition thing. A smart move by ESPN and Top Rank as Poncher is very strong and just getting better all the time.
- The voice - I know Lennon Jr. and Buffer are legends and for good reason. But, I gotta say, Top Rank’s Lupe Contreras is simply outstanding and gets my vote as the best in the business. Top Rank, along with ESPN, is really making an effort to take their live shows to another level. Lots of crowd participation at the events, a live, roving reporter, lots of interactive media options for fans – lights, camera, action - Top Rank shows are just getting better and better as a live experience for fans. But, when Contreras steps into the ring and takes over the mic, with his flawless English and Spanish introductions, the energy in the room goes to a new level. Saturday night, Madison Square Garden was fired up and the fans were certainly into the fights. But, when Contreras took over the ring to announce fighter introductions, or results, he sent the energy in the room over the top. Contreras is a huge part of the excitement of the Top Rank/ESPN live show.
-They said it – Whom will we see Terence Crawford in with next? In post-fight interviews, according to Crawford, it is quite clear whom he wants to fight. But, according to promoter Bob Arum, there is one stumbling block.
“We want to fight Errol Spence”, said Arum. “Everyone wants the fight. There is one guy stopping it, and that is Al Haymon.”