Timing is Everything for Crawford vs. Gamboa:
On Saturday night, Terence Crawford and Yuriorkis Gamboa meet in a clash of quality, unbeaten fighters with identical records. For both men this fight represents a grand opportunity — Crawford has the opportunity to enhance his reputation by beating a talented and well-known opponent, while Gamboa has the opportunity to get his career back on track by winning a world title strap.
As always with such opportunities, the ability to capitalize on them can often depend on timing. In the case of Terence Crawford, timing is everything for this particular fight, both in and outside of the ring.
Crawford’s timing takes precedence over Gamboa’s speed
Inside of the ring, timing is a fundamental technical trait. The innate sense of understanding what punch to throw, and when to throw it, can be a critically important tool for a fighter. So many fights have been won and lost on it.
Carl Froch and Guillermo Rigondeaux may not have many common characteristics, but they both had to negate a disadvantage in fast hands and explosiveness when they respectively fought George Groves and Nonito Donaire. They may have been slower and not as easy on the eye, but Froch sized up Groves before dispatching him with a right hand thunderbolt, and Rigondeaux meticulously broke Donaire down round after round en route to a decision win.
Those are just two examples seen in specific fights, but Amir Khan is a one-man microcosm of this topic. He arguably owns a pair of the fastest hands in professional boxing, yet many of his fights have been all the more grueling because of his opponent’s ability to time his onrushes and counteract his advantages in speed.
The above proves that while hand speed and power may dazzle, ultimately it is timing that often wins a fight, and that should give Crawford confidence ahead of this weekend. While Gamboa catches the eye with his frenetic, fast-paced style, he is defensively open because of it. Crawford’s punch-picking is superb and his sense of timing inherent in his effective fighting style. Where Gamboa is reckless, Crawford is ruthless.
Crawford in the right place at the right time
Good timing can be evident outside of the ring as well, and Crawford has previous experience in this domain too.
In March 2013, Crawford stepped in at short notice to fight Breidis Prescott after the Colombian’s original opponent had pulled out. It was a bold move. Prescott, although limited, was on a two-fight win streak, had crunching power and had derailed the careers of unbeaten prospects before. Crawford appeared ignorant to the dangers, boxing intelligently to take a 10 round unanimous decision while barely breaking a sweat.
Gamboa is undoubtedly a serious threat to Crawford’s ambitions, but having fought only twice since late 2011, Crawford may be getting the Cuban at just the right time. In that two and a half year time frame, Gamboa has moved up another weight class, fought less than stellar opponents and failed to win inside the distance in both outings. In a period where Gamboa should have been fulfilling his vast potential, he has been flitting in and out of the ring with time-passing fights of little real meaning.
This is a fight that only the best version of Gamboa can win, and it’s up for debate whether that fighter exists anymore. Even then, with Crawford’s ruthlessly efficient manner, even the best Gamboa would struggle. If timing truly is everything, then Crawford has it all. That’s why I see him picking apart Gamboa’s flashy but ill-timed attacks to win inside the scheduled distance. Perhaps then the under-appreciated trait that is timing will get the attention it deserves.