Crawford wins tougher than expected fight
By Jason Gonzalez at ringside
WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford, a staple on the pound-for-pound list, probably made his fight against mandatory challenger Egidijus Kavaliauskas a little harder than it should have been last Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
However, Crawford still got the “W” in a way in which the judges were a non-factor.
“But what can I say? I am a stubborn kind of guy,” Crawford told Maxboxing at the conclusion of the post-fight press conference. “I am a stubborn fighter.”
Crawford stopped Kavaliauskas in the ninth round to retain his 147-pound championship in front the announced crowd of 10,101.
Crawford scored a total of three knockdowns en route to the victory. One in the seventh and then two more in the ninth. During the contest, Crawford absorbed his fair share of bumps and bruises.
At one-point during the matchup, Crawford touched the canvas. However, referee Ricky Gonzalez didn’t rule it a knockdown. It was called a slip.
"I thought I had to entertain y’all for a little bit," Crawford said, now 36-0, (27). "He’s a strong fighter, durable, and I thought I’d give the crowd something to cheer for."
As we have grown accustomed to say at the conclusion of every Crawford fight, “When is he going to fight someone of note?” “When is he going to fight someone that could potentially pose a threat to give him his first loss?”
Crawford, who is promoted by Top Rank, fights exclusively on ESPN. Crawford has yearned for a big fight for quite some time now. But the difficulty boils down to the other champions in the division fighting under the Premier Boxing Champions banner, which means that they fight on other network(s) such as Fox Sports and Showtime.
This “political divide” has prevented Crawford from engaging in a high-profile fight. But as 2020 approaches it is imperative that the beef between PBC and Top Rank be squashed. Because if it doesn’t, Crawford will be the welterweight version of Jermall Charlo.
Which means, due to a having a limited selection of opponents to fight, Crawford will most likely fight no one of interest.
Crawford is in his 11th year of fighting as a professional. In those eleven years Crawford has added a lot of hardware to his home mantle. He won a lightweight title , became undisputed at junior welterweight [140 pounds] [WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO] and then captured a welterweight title [WBO] after decimating Jeff Horn. Pretty impressive considering that Crawford did all of this without having a marquee fight. But how much longer will this go on? Fight fans are reaching their breaking point.
“I don’t have to call out any names,” said the 32-year-old Crawford. “I’ll fight anybody. You [the public] pick em’, I’ll fight them.”
But if it only were that easy...
Crawford opened the contest with his opponent as a southpaw. As a result, Kavaliauskas managed to penetrate Crawford’s defense and land a fair share of straight right hands on his grill.
In the third round Kavaliauskas landed a right hand that caused Crawford to hold on. Looking staggered, Kavaliauskas sensed that Crawford was hurt, so he threw more punches and then Crawford dropped to a knee. Maxboxing thought it was a knockdown. However, Gonzalez ruled it a slip.
"I was not hurt. I was not knocked down,” Crawford emphatically proclaimed. “I was not hurt; you saw I went right after him. I took the fight right to him.”
It was clear that Kavaliauskas had landed a lot more punches on Crawford than any other opponent before him has had. But yet it seemed as if Crawford wanted to out tough Kavaliauskas.
Which Crawford eventually did. In the seventh round, Crawford turned from a southpaw into a conventional stance. Immediately following the adjustments, Crawford landed a right hand behind the ear of Kavaliauskas, which dropped him.
Ultimately, this was the start of Kavaliauskas’s ending. As soon as he rose, he absorbed some more punishment for the remainder of the frame. With the native of Omaha, Nebraska smelling blood, Crawford connected with an uppercut that stunned Kavaliauskas. To his credit, he survived.
Crawford ferociously closed out the show in the ninth round. Crawford rocked Kavaliauskas backwards with a 1-2 combination to the head, and then unleashed a vicious right uppercut that sent the 31-year-old Kavaliauskas, now 21-1-1, (17) of Lithuania to the ropes, wilting over to a knee. The brave Kavaliauskas beat the count, but when Gonzalez resumed the action, Crawford nailed Kavaliauskas with a right hook to the head that put him on the canvas for the final time in the scrap. The time of the stoppage came at the :44 mark.
"The round before that, my coaches kept telling me stop loading up," said Crawford. "I was loading up a lot because the first couple of clean shots I landed, I knew I hurt him. I wanted to give the crowd a knockout. When I started letting my hands go, I started landing more fatal shots."
The difference in the fight was the adjustment Crawford made in which he switched from lefty to righty. Had he done it sooner, it probably would have been a shorter night at the office.
At the time of the stoppage, Crawford was well ahead on all three scorecards. (79-72 twice, and 78-73)
For the better part of two years, fight fans have been clamoring to see WBC/IBF welterweight champ Errol Spence, Jr. and Crawford lock horns. Unfortunately, Spence is sitting on the shelf recovering from injuries sustained in a horrific car accident, that saw him get ejected from the vehicle, just two months ago.
So, who will Crawford fight next? Crawford’s promoter Bob Arum suggests that it will be former welterweight world champion “Showtime” Shawn Porter of the PBC side. Porter is coming off a close decision loss to Spence in a unification bout three months ago.
"I think that [Shawn] Porter is the most competitive with Crawford right now and the reason I say that, and I didn’t say that before the Spence fight is that Porter lost by a whisker. He and Spence that night were equal. So, Porter is the next-best guy. He proved himself with Spence," Arum would tell the media at the conclusion of the fight.
Maybe there will be a truce called between PBC and Top Rank. Who knows? It does sound promising.
But whether it’s Porter or any other top welterweight that Crawford fights next, He made it abundantly clear that it doesn’t matter who his opponent is.
"I’ll fight anybody," he said. "I’ve been saying that for I don’t know how long. I’m not ducking anyone on the PBC side or Top Rank platform. I want to fight all the top guys."
In the co-feature bout of the evening, newly crowned IBF lightweight champion, Teofimo Lopez put forth a star making performance. The 22-year-old Brooklynite stopped Richard Commey, 29-3, (26) in two rounds to capture the title.
Lopez dropped Commey early in the second round with a monstrous right hand. While dazed, Commey rose quickly, but only to stumble back down as if he was inebriated. Once Commey got his bearings and was coherent, Lopez went into shark mode. When the action resumed, Lopez blitzed Commey, which prompted the referee to call a halt to the action.
“God, thank you,” Lopez rejoiced, improving to 15-0, (12). “The great KG [Kevin Garnett] [retired basketball player] once said, ‘anything is possible,’”.
Top Rank matchmaker Carl Moretti informed the press that Top Rank will look to make a unification bout with Vasyl Lomachenko in April of next year. That’s only four months away folks.
In the opening bout of the evening, “Irish” Mike Conlan, now 12-0, (7) defeated Vladimir Nikitin via a unanimous decision over the course of 10 rounds. The scores read 100-90, 99-91 and 98-92.
Conlan is a top 10 fringe contender [at best], he should look to make a fight with Shakur Stevenson in the immediate future. Both Conlan and Stevenson fight for Top Rank. With all things considered, it’s a very easy fight to make.