Terence Crawford didn't have as many moments that left his hometown legion of rooters buzzing as maybe they would've expected coming into the main event from the Century Link Center in Omaha, Nebraska on Saturday evening. But that probably had quite a bit to do with the quite respectable grasp of the basics in foe Ray Beltran. Crawford's jab bothered Beltran and though he fought in retreat for much of the night, the native got mad love from the judges. After 12 rounds of smart pugilism, Crawford had his hand raised, by scores of 119-109, 119-109, 120-108.
He said after he will go to 140 next. He didn't offer any ideas on what he'd like to do next.
Crawford went 243-639 to 96-366 for the loser.
WBO lightweight champ Crawford (24-0 entering; from Omaha; age 27) was 135 (153 today) on Friday, while Beltran (age 33; born in Mexico, lives in AZ; 29-6-1 entering) was 134.8 (147 tonight).
In the first, Crawford started slow. Ray edged forward, slipped shots, but Crawford wasn't dialed in yet. He got cooking a bit more in the last third. Trainer Pepe Reilly told Beltran he liked his work. Crawford went 10-44 to 7-31 for Beltran.
In the second, Crawford went lefty. The jab kept Beltran at bay, and TC showed the faster hands.
In the third, TC's hand speed proved problematic. But Beltran isn't one to be easily put off. He edged forward, and his feel kept him from absorbing that many clean blows. Beltran landed a right, while TC backed up, and then ate a Crawford return.
In the fourth, TC was back righty to start. Beltran then faced a lefty, and TC again ate a right lead. The long right jab was a points scorer for TC. He had a 71 to 27 edge in ounces landed to this point.
In the fifth, Beltran edged closer. He knew he needed to step it up. A hook, then another, landed for Beltran. He was more aggressive and had a better round.
In the sixth, the jab was marking up Beltran. He came forward, but wasn't busy enough. He tried to corral TC on the ropes but the Nebraskan slithered away. Crawford was the ace boxer in that round, and showed a vast difference in skill.
In the seventh, Beltran landed straight rights, and the crowd got jazzed. But his left eye was getting more swollen. In the eighth, TC moved to his right and Beltran wasn't able to make him pay with left hooks.
In the ninth, Beltran landed a sharp right and later an overhand left, from a lefty stance. Beltran had Crawford clinching some here. In round ten, Beltran stalked, but was a step too slow, mostly. Crawford pressed on the gas in the waning moments. In the 11th, we saw TC step it up late, and he battered the Arizonan late. In the 12th, Crawford jabbed to the body, and then landed right hooks, and then jabs up top. He wanted a late KO, and he pressed with the O. He didn't get it, and we went to the cards..
Photo Credit: Chris Farina