He’s tough. He has a good skill set and was very determined this past Saturday night. You don’t have to watch him long to see that he can throw almost every punch in the book and has adequate power. Yes, I’m talking about lightweight contender Raymundo Beltran 29-7-1 (17). And you know what, you had to feel sorry for him Saturday night as he challenged WBO lightweight title holder Terence Crawford 25-0 (17) because as hard as he tried, he just couldn’t do a thing with the tough, slick and polished Crawford. Not that any other lightweight in the world could’ve competed with Crawford much more successfully.
Anyone watching Terence Crawford had to be impressed this past weekend. He’s clearly removed all doubt that he’s the best lightweight in the world. No, the division isn’t loaded like it has been in past eras, but you can only measure him against what’s around today. Maybe one day down the road we’ll ponder how he would’ve done against past greats the likes of Roberto Duran, Pernell Whitaker and Shane Mosley, but we’ll hold off on that conversation for now.
What we do know is Beltran wasn’t a pushover and he was never in the fight. He was out-boxed, out-sped, out-fought and out-thought. And it looked as if Crawford was just going for a Saturday morning jog because he did it with such ease and smoothness. Smartly, Beltran didn’t really step it up and try to take Crawford out because had he pushed harder he would’ve been beaten up more. I can’t remember the last time I saw a fighter, if ever, who was so accurate and effective fighting orthodox or fighting southpaw. Crawford fights on high alert, but has the ability box with the proficiency of Mayweather, yet when he’s pressed or under fire, his instinct to attack kicks in like Pacquiao as he raises the rent offensively. Had the fight against Beltran been scheduled for 15-rounds, he would’ve won by stoppage.
For 12 rounds Crawford jabbed, moved, held his ground under fire, and pot-shotted Beltran at will. Watching him jab and circle on the move was a thing of beauty. He picked his spots and blunted Beltran’s halfhearted attempt to push the fight with perfectly timed and placed one-twos. And he was equally effective cutting loose with the left hand as the lead or his right as the lead. And he doesn’t telegraph a single punch. It must have been torture for Beltran trying to get the jump on Crawford by trying to anticipate what was coming first, the left or the right lead because Crawford doesn’t give anything away. He doesn’t flinch or move his shoulders or elbows, his straight punches come out as if they were fired from a Juggs football throwing machine. That’s how little indication he gives you as to what’s coming next. And need I remind anyone that his basics and fundamentals are all there. Aside from not fighting with his mouth open, there’s nothing for Crawford to address, his performance was perfect.
As for what’s next for him, he said he’s moving up to 140. Before the Beltran fight, it was impossible to get a good read on how he would fare at junior welterweight. Complicating that question somewhat is the fact he fought two different styles in his last two bouts because of the opponent. Against Yuriorkis Gamboa, he was under a lot of duress because Gamboa was trying to end the fight with every punch. So in that fight he was planting and countering more. Beltran didn’t swing for the fences and mostly tried to set him up. However, that didn’t work out all that well because Crawford’s quick feet and hands, along with his movement, kept Beltran a step or two behind and reaching and over-committing. Crawford’s versatility was evidenced against both Gamboa and Beltran. So the answer is yes, his skill set and fighting aptitude will allow for him to make a smooth transition into the junior welterweight division.
I give the guy who taught him how to fight and box a lot of credit, because, even though Terence really is a natural, he was also very well instructed. He’s also got a great boxers’ body, and I notice that his skin doesn’t bust up or swell. I think Crawford is exactly the kind of fighter who may have thrived during earlier eras. The old school fighters could box and punch and were comfortable in- fighting. Today, most fighters only excel doing one or the other. And that’s because today’s fighters don’t fight enough because they’re too protected if they are prospects, and because there are almost no adequate trainers anymore. In other eras, by the time a fighter got a title shot, he’d seen every conceivable style. But Crawford reminds me of fighters from the 50s. He’s experienced beyond his years.
Crawford is a natural with a brain, like James Toney, like Joan Guzman. These guys aren’t just gifted physically, their brains match their bodies in aptitude. Adrien Broner is also a natural, but he has no boxing brain.
Terence Crawford is must see in 2015.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com