Will Crawford get bigger fights in 2020?
By Bill Tibbs
Terence Crawford is set to defend his WBO welterweight title vs. Egidijus Kavaliauskas at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Plus – Teofimo Lopez goes for the IBF, 135-pound belt and Mick Conlon looks for Olympic revenge.
On Saturday, December 14 Terence "Bud" Crawford, arguably the best fighter in boxing, looks to make the third defense of his WBO 147-pound championship against Egidijus Kavaliauskas. The main event, which takes place from Madison Square Garden in New York, also features star in-the-making Teofimo Lopez Jr. taking his shot at IBF lightweight champ Richard Commey. The card will also see Irish featherweight Michael Conlan taking on Vladimir Nikitin in a rematch of their controversial fight from the Rio Olympics.
Terence ‘Bud” Crawford (35-0, 26 KO’s), is a former champion at lightweight and junior welterweight. He won the WBO welterweight championship by stopping Australian Jeff Horn in June of last year. He has 2 successful title defenses in the bank with wins over long, lanky Jose Benavidez along with a win over British star Amir Khan.
Kavaliauskus can punch (21-0, 17 KO’s) so Bud can’t ignore the power shots. However, there is a glaring difference in level of competition and it is hard to see Lithuania native Kavaliauskas having anything other than some power to bother Bud. If Crawford tastes some power early he will cruise to a points win. If he gets a feel for his power and he isn’t too worried look for Bud to step on the gas and hand Kavaliauskas his first stoppage loss.
Bud should get win #36 while he waits for one of the big fights at welterweight against the likes of Errol Spence, Mikey Garcia, Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, or Manny Pacquiao. There are some huge fights out there for Crawford and Top Rank is looking to secure one for their star. Crawford his doing is part and that is beating everyone who is put in front of him. Crawford is already considered one of the best in boxing and 2020 could be the year he vaults into super stardom if he can secure one of the bigger names at 147. Prediction - Omaha’s fave Bud Crawford by TKO in the 2nd half of the bout.
Undefeated, star in-the-making Teofimo Lopez (14-0 11 KO’s), has danced, flipped and KO’d his way into being viewed as perhaps the next biggest thing in boxing. Lopez expects a lot of himself and dubbed his last performance, a distance points win, as “horrible”, even though he won. He looks to win, steal the show and be ‘the takeover’ in any event he’s involved with.
In this, Lopez’s first title shot, he has a tough task on his hands in IBF lightweight champion Richard Commey (29-2, 26 KO’s). Commey is a rugged and aggressive banger who won the title in February and then defended it against tough guy Ray Beltran this past summer. Lopez has looked every impressive since he turned pro and he has been telling everyone who will listen that he is taking over the sport. Lopez wants the title from Commey first and then he is targeting Vasyl Lomachenko after that. Big plans - but step #1 is Commey, a tough out, but a fight I see Lopez winning. Prediction - Lopez by TKO in rounds 8-12.
It’s middle finger mayhem to round out this solid card. The grudge match between Belfast’s Michael Conlan (12-0, 7 KO’s) and Vladimir Nikitin (3-0, 0 KO’s) who stole one from him (well the judges did) at the 2016 Olympics. Conlan was bitter and upset after the bout and looked to immediately turn pro vowing to never fight in the amateurs again. Conlan’s parting shot, a middle finger salute to the judges after the bout, made headlines everywhere.Top Rank’s Bob Arum, who never met a good story he didn’t like, sniffed a good sell here with the likeable Irishman and signed him up to punch for pay. He’s had impressive moments in his still developing pro run but has also had the right guys put in front of him up to this point. I like Conlan and I think he’s putting himself in a good spot to contest for a world title before too long. This is a fight he needs to get the Olympic monkey off his back before he takes a run at a pro trinket. Prediction - Conlan UD.