Is Terence Crawford the best or overrated?
Blake Chavez gives his opinion
I became quite aware of Terence "Bud" Crawford when he defeated Ricky Burns for the WBO lightweight title in Scotland. My initial impression was that Crawford was a very solid fighter, but that Ricky Burns was merely a very game, very average, white champion with a modicum of grit, and not a helluva lot else.
Bud’s following bout is what I point out to those crazed Crawford fans who must explain to me and themselves exactly how Crawford is the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world and should be favored over the real monster of the division, Errol Spence, with Crawford having such a woeful outing on his resume. E.x.p.l.a.i.n. t.h.i.s.
It was a stateside title defense in Bud’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska against a rusted Cuban ex-Olympic gold medalist. I had viewed the fight, because I knew Crawford was a quality amateur on the rise in the pro game as a champion many viewed as a blue-chipper, and I hoped to see Yuriorkis Gamboa get the hell knocked out of him. Why the animosity against Gamboa? It stemmed from what I saw as an arrogant and lazy boxing style he adopted in the pros. Hands held dangerously low, and his being oblivious to instructions from his corner, even though he was getting caught and floored regularly. Yet he had previously managed to win on natural talent versus lower-tiered featherweight opposition.
I was skeptical of Gamboa competing as a lightweight since he to be so damn short. He looked to be about 5’ 2" tall on his tip-toes, nowhere near the 5’ 5" promo material always touted him as. And whilst Gamboa was very muscular and extremely quick in what I believed to be his long-past prime, Crawford looked every bit of 5’ 8" tall.
True to form, Gamboa flashed some hand-speed and kept his hands low, wearing what can only be described as a sneer of disdain towards Crawford. It was his tired routine of, "You dare to challenge me with your crude abilities?" And, yup, Crawford blasted the insolent Cuban to the canvas four times, ending the fight in nine rounds.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the media reporting on the bout. Scott Crist of SB Nation called it a "potentially star-making performance". Dan Rafael (Bob Arum’s personal cheerleader) of ESPN called it the Fight of the Year at the year’s half-way point, also fawning all over Crawford.
A feature piece in Deadspin magazine by "Blind" Daniels extolled Terence "Bud" Crawford as the next face of boxing as Floyd moved stage left and wound down his career.
And whilst the writers were kissing Crawford’s azz so blatantly for whupping a Gamboa, many neglected to point out that Gamboa slapped the hell outta Crawford for the first four rounds. Bud couldn’t touch him. But alas, even Rafael acknowledged that Gamboa was superior fighter in the early going.
But what really stunk to me was that many reports neglected to mention was that Gamboa had rocked Crawford in the eighth round. Crawford eventually overwhelmed Gamboa, knocking him down several times. Hmmmm.
Evidence that either Gamboa has a chin for the ages or Crawford doesn’t actually punch all that hard. This is where pound-for-pound jurors must e.xp.l.a.i.n. Bud’s validity in topping their list.
Danny Garcia, Keith Thurman, Errol Spence, Kell Brook, and dare I say even Mikey Garcia would absolutely rip Gamboa’s head from his neck should they ever get the chance to fight him It would be a case of murder. That’s why I look at Crawford with so much suspicion.
Another aspect of Crawford’s not being fit to be listed in the Top five, never mind being listed by most as the number one pound-for-pound is the stench of Bob Arum and his opportunistic "match-making" team as relates to Crawford’s hand-picked opponents.
I give credit to when it is earned, and Top Rank’s team is as good as it gets in insuring that their A-side house fighter is virtually assured of a victory every time out. Biggest examples in recent history: Loma and Bud. Loma fights the faded, the lame, and the under-fed. Sure, Loma’s talented. He’s beaten a few genuine champion-level fighters. I give him that.
But he also got his azz kicked all over the place by a guy with about ten losses in Siri Salido, who was washed up when they fought. By comparison, Mikey Garcia knocked down Salido four times-- in the prime of Salido’s career. So put that in your pipes and smoke it. Loma also got purple welts and knots all over his cranium courtesy of a 95-year-old Jorge Linares, who put Loma squarely on his azz to boot.
Loma has been getting marked up in last few fights, of that there is no doubt. Plus his speed is his calling card and now he’s over thirty with a ton of elite amateur fight and sparring mileage on his odometer.
Crawford? After the 34-year-old Burns and Gamboa, 45-year-old Ray Beltran? This guy has to be the sorriest ten-loss Mexican champion in history. Thomas Dulorme? Putrid.
Only Felix Verdejo has gotten more fanfare for less talent in the last decade than Dulorme. Dierry Jean? Another zombie knock-knock-knocking on age 40’s door, his claim to fame is beating Lenardo Tyner. Yup. That guy. Lol. Hank Lundy. OMG. Yet another senior citizen who is rumored to have been rolled up for his ring-walk versus Crawford in a wheel chair. Victor Postol. Don’t make me vomit. John Molina Jr. Another golden oldie scratching at age 40.
Bob Arum sent us Julius Indongo? He was a mere baby of 34-years-old when Crawford fought him. I’m already sick to my stomach, so I’ll just blurt out Jeff Horn and A-Mere-Shell-of-my-Former-Self-Khan. After Canelo severed his head, Khan was fully one-half the fighter he was in his prime.
But Uncle Bob has the media locked down in ranking either Loma or Bud as number one. The question is; has Bob snookered you?
While I’m at it, let’s put to bed a few myths. Crawford is no Marvin Hagler when it comes to switch-hitting. Crawford "sweeps" his left-handed upper-cuts, using the momentum of his arm speed in an effort to generate power where there really, in all honesty, is not a whole lot. His naturally stronger right hand provides cover for the failings of the left. His right jab and right hooks are his bread and butter, but his balance out of the southpaw stance trades stability for mobility, and so he’s vulnerable to being stepped around on when in that stance. Watch his feet; it’s more like a drag than a pivot when he’s southpaw.
He has genuinely stellar footwork when operating in a conventional stance. That’s when you see him at his best, which is pretty good. He’ s on the bounce and lively; dangerous. His right hand does all the damage when cocked in the power position, and he knows it. He’ll vary that delivery every so often to affect an overhand bombing, but arm angle is at most three-quarters when looping, which allows a whipping type of landing point. That means a lot of accurately placed temple and on-the-ear shots, which do damage to the opponent’s equilibrium. His jab out of the orthodox stance is strong, and his left hooks, though accurate, are not KO inspiring.
My overall opinion on Crawford is that he’s been able to box southpaw against old zombies with shot reflexes. But I do believe his astute all-around boxing abilities and nasty disposition make him competitive with anyone in the welterweight division besides Spence, and perhaps Kell Brook. Both hit too hard for Crawford to survive and win against.
Crawford claims he’s never been out-boxed. I tend to believe him.
Mikey Garcia got shot-down by Bud in the amateurs and Mikey and his trainer/brother Robert have always had nothing but terrific things to say about Bud’s skill level. In fact, it was Mikey who recommended Bud to Bob Arum when Mikey was in Bob’s stable. In closing, I believe Crawford’s nasty streak is real. But is it a character flaw?
The first time I saw Bud he was cool with getting his pic snapped, but when the cell was a little slow outta the holster he bitched about the camera not being ready. So, I apologized, and then told him "F-You".
I told him that I didn’t even want his sorry azz in my pic file after all. He gave me a look; an ugly one with more than a taste of malice slopped all over it. I’m an older guy, twice his size, and I’m sure he considered running a set off my melon, but he just returned the "F-word" and moved off into the night. Just saying, he’s a street guy, no matter how Top Rank wants to parlay his small-town Omaha roots.
He’s a dice player in the streets, so that tells you he’s trouble waiting to happen. He’ gotten shot or grazed in the head, out on the streets, so he’s not out playing monopoly at night. Perhaps his saving grace will be that he is often seen by himself, with no entourage. Zero. It also tells me he’s capable of being his own man. Perhaps he’s a bit more complicated and decent than I’ve urged myself to believe. After all, one meeting cannot serve to get a reading on a man’s character.
And so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he’ll mature into a fine human being.
But judging Crawford as a fighter? Hmmm. As a journalist, I endeavor to set aside all prejudices, and my mind is trained to operate in as near a complete vacuum as possible when rating fighters. I must put aside personal issues with, or near-altercations with, the subject.
But I also recognize that as humans our emotions define who we truly are, and can serve to shade or impede what we like to believe are our unbiased opinions. I’ll swallow my pride and any notions I’ve developed regarding Terence and attempt to be as near to honest as I’m capable of being, which is considerably so.
So in my final analysis, Terence "Bud’ Crawford is neither a fraud nor a legend. He is one of the finer boxers on the planet. Should he deign to fight exclusively in a conventional stance, he may yet prove to be a Top Five pound-for pound talent in my book. For now, he lingers a few rungs below that in my estimation. It’s EZ to fall in love with the accolades of being so wonderfully gifted as to be able to box from both sides. The truth is, to reach your highest ceiling, just fight out of the side you fight best out of. When faced with the real monsters of the welterweight division one cannot be at anything less than full-strength; and for Terence that is to fight 95% of those bouts from an orthodox stance, because your only chance is to outbox them, not out-slug them.
And I make this ranking with a caveat: It’s not Crawford’s fault Bob Arum has been feeding him guys whisked out of old folk’s homes. But the fact remains "Bud’ does not presently have the resume to demand he be in the Top Five, much less reside at the top. He must take some real scalps, not tired wrinkled ones, in order to earn the level of respect he’s striding around demanding. Command our respect Terence, don’t demand it. There’s a big difference.
CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?
Baby T-Rex Gary Russel Jr. (he loves to be called MISTER but nobody is really feeling that) says that Al Haymon is favoring Leo Santa Cruz and is not willing to give Russell a shot at Leo. He’ s right in that Uncle Al loves him some Leo and rarely risks his tender vittles. But Gary has some nerve to talk about preferential treatment, being that he has cornered the market on that from Uncle Al.
Remember Loma beat the shnit out of Mister Gary? I sure do. It was a near-shutout. Told us what we needed to know about who really was who and what was what. Ever since, the only thing of note lil Gary did was he bombed out a shot Mexican puncher years and years ago. Other than that, he’s spanking the horribly over-rated Jo-Jo-Diaz’s of the world.
Luis Ortiz YOU ARE 40 PLUS YEARS OLD, WITH A MILLION MILES ON YOUR ODO! You will kick yourself for life if you passed on the Joshua paycheck. If you don’t kick yourself, your wife will.
GGG turned around faster than a fart in a punch bowl, going from being "Good Boy" Beaver Cleaver to Eddie Haskell and cutting his decade-long trainer and confidante Abel Sanchez’s pay into itty-bitty pieces. Abel is pizzed to the moon. But think about it for a second. 10% of $30 million dollars is $3 million dollars. Evidently GGG doesn’t think Abel deserves to make that bread for 8 weeks of a training camp. He’s right.
But what about all the years Abel worked for him for small money? Abel got some healthy purses on GGG’s HBO run and hit the jackpot on the Canelo fight training commission. I think Abel deserved to have his pay cut by just a third, but GGG offered a cut to one-fifth of what Abel used to get. One fifth of $3 million dollars is still six hundred thousand dollars. Abel should have swallowed his pride and signed the contract. Hey Abel. We out here in the real world know that if you chew on that false pride long enough, you can swallow it. Don’t be a dummy. Pick up the phone right now and see if you can still get the deal he offered.
That’s a lot of money. What are the odds you get another fighter in your career who is going to dish out $600k per fight for your azz to train him???? Yeah. Make that call now. Don’t be a fool. If you don’t grab that dough, some other guy sure as hell will do it for a lot less my friend.
Blake Chavez answers all of his emails