On a night when Mikey Garcia dominated the show with a brutal two-knockdown, four round stoppage of Juan Manuel Lopez, it is easy to allow the undercard of Saturday evening’s Texas bill to drift into the background. As a result, the quietly assured Terence Crawford may not be at the forefront of your mind’s eye when you look back upon this past weekend’s action.
The Dark Horse on the Undercard
Crawford, a young pure-boxer from Omaha - Nebraska, dealt a lesson to Alejandro Sanabria in the build up to the main event, stirring up the crowd with a viscerally pleasing stoppage of his foe with the first punch of the 6th round; a left hook delivered almost matter-of-factly to the right side of Sanabria’s jaw. The result of the savage blow wwas Sanabria’s temporary loss of bodily control as his legs stumbled backward, leading to the referee calling a halt to proceedings.
Throughout the fight, Crawford picked his foe apart with delicate precision. Coming forward, Crawford attentively searched Sanabria for signs of weakness, refusing to let eye contact slip and his control waver. He barely seemed out of breath in an exhibition of how to make this galling sport of ours look so simple. It is something followers of the talented lightweight have come to expect, but as yet he hasn’t quite broke out to the wider boxing audience. This is an unfortunate side-effect not merely of his effectively one-sided method of winning fights, but also due to show-stopping main events that linger in the memory, such as Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado’s return war in March, which took attention away from Crawford’s undercard masterclass of Breidis Prescott, as well as Mikey Garcia’s aforementioned blowout of JuanMa Lopez this weekend which overshadowed Crawford’s victory over Sanabria.
His efficiency may not thrill, but it earn admirers from the ranks of hardcore boxing fans, the type of fight fans that don’t mind, or even enjoy, watching one boxer impose a clinical shutout upon another. Crawford has already drawn some appreciation from this particular audience and, soon comparison may be made between the style of Crawford and that of legendary purist’s dream; Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker.
Crawford still has a way to go though, despite his pretensions to greatness. As high quality as his performances have thus far been, there has not yet been a truly top class fighter in the ring opposite him to validate claims that he is as yet anything more than an exceptional young contender. Now at age 25, the time appears right for Crawford to make moves towards something bigger.
Crawford is a member of Bob Arum’s Top Rank stable, and thus he has access to a promotional organisation with established networks within the sport, a prestigious promotional company that has guided countless champions and will no doubt guide many more to come. With this backing, Crawford has some powerful people on his side, meaning world title opportunities shouldn’t be hard to come by, no matter if potential opponents may prefer to avoid him, and lightweight is teeming with established fighters for Crawford to tackle down the line, such as Ricky Burns, Antonio DeMarco, Richard Abril and Miguel Vazquez.
Show-Stopper, but not Crowd-Pleaser
And although it seems unlikely that Crawford is going to get on his soapbox to rave about who he wants to fight next, rant about who he thinks he can beat, and crow about who’s ex-girlfriend he is currently seeing, he does possess one very attractive marketing tool: an unbeaten record. Crawford has fought and won 21 times, 16 coming inside the scheduled distance, without defeat. That “0” is ever significant in modern boxing, especially considering Crawford’s record does not appear to be overtly padded with mismatches.
Following Crawford’s comfortable out-boxing of Breidis Prescott earlier in the year, Bob Arum apparently claimed Crawford to be better than Adrien Broner. Although Broner has since left the lightweight division, a meeting between Boner and Crawford down the line is not out of the question given the relative infancy of their careers.
Although it may come to make for a compelling match-up, the two could not appear to contrast further outside of the ropes. Self-confident Crawford may be, but he is not as publicly outgoing as Broner. And as respectable a trait that modesty is, it may make Crawford harder to market to the general public.
In a sport that is becoming more and more invested in media and publicity with ways to keep the casual fan interested, Crawford’s reserved yet real nature may hold him back, but it is to be admired. Talent and hard work usually lead to achievement, as long as Crawford continues to concentrate his efforts toward those two important attributes, he should fulfil his potential, and that potential is vast.