—- Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank
He’s getting some buzz as people are pondering Fighter of the Year awards, is Terence “Bud” Crawford, and trainer Brian McIntyre should, I think, be in the convo as Trainer of the Year, am I wrong?
This Nebraska crew revved their engines and passed the sputtered out Nascars driven by Andre Ward and Mikey Garcia, and put their stamp on the fight scene, and the HBO cable airwaves with wins over Ricky Burns, Yuriorkis Gamboa and finally Ray Beltran, last month. Crawford went from being one of those guys that the hardcore fans are aware of, and for whom the jury is still sort of out, to be on many slobber lists. Yep, “Bud” was the recipient of much Twitter lovebombing after he got the W over ex Manny Pacquiao’s sparring partner on Nov. 29, and this leads me to be asking around: when is Bud gloving up next?
I put the query to McIntyre, who’s known TC since he the 35 pound champ started boxing, at age 7. Mac competed himself as a pro, and went 9-14 from 1994-2007, as a heavyweight. He worked as a judge, and is now highly regarded for being a solid tutor and game-planner and motivator for Crawford.
So what about it, Mac, when do we see Crawford again, and against who?
“We’re hearing names, like lightweight Juan Diaz, junior welters Chris Algieri and Ruslan Provodnikov…it don’t matter,” the trainer said of possible nexts. “It doesn’t matter, Bud wants the effing best!”
I admit my stock in Mac went up, as he drops eff bombs like I do. I dug his passion, and his belief in his kid, and his salty sailor language.
I’d heard talk about a Crawford-Manny Pacquiao bout, is that in the cards? “What do we need that for? He’s on his way out. We’d maybe go there (go to Macau), and maybe get beat, and be another name on his resume?”
I told him I liked all three fights he mentioned, and that the fans seemed to very much respond when Gamboa in June forced the issue on Bud, pressed him, made him engage. Bud scored a TKO9 victory.
Mac sees something to like in all three maybe foes. Algieri is a thinking man’s fighter, would be a different look against Bud, he said. Diaz is a rough plugger, would be in Bud’s face with a bit more urgency than Beltran, though he left the sport for awhile, so he might not be such a step up from Beltran, the trainer wonders.
I said I think if the fans had a vote, they might like a Provodnikov-Crawford bout. MacIntryre agreed and seemed keen to go that route…though maybe, if he’s choose a more incremental approach, being that Bud is just 27, he might vote for a fight against Diaz, let Bud see some of that urgent offense, and THEN sign on for a harsher version of the same, as dispensed by Provodnikov.
A scrap at the end of March, put together by promoter Top Rank, seems a likely bet, he said. And would Bud spark up the Century Link Center, in his native Omaha? Or maybe venture outside the heartland, widen out the fanbase, maybe do an NYC hit? “Nebraska, I hope not,” Mac said. He’s keen to let some other pockets of the nation see his kid do his thing.
Crawford has already been training, for the last two weeks, and Mac says we won’t see him puff up in a holiday frenzy of caloric over indulgence.
I was honest with Mac, and noted that when I see a talent like Crawford, my standards are upped. With his ability to flow and put together combos and get angles and with that great vision and IQ in the ring, he could average 80 punches a round and rip nasty combos more often than he does, with an eye on stopping foes. Mac and me talked about this, especially in the context of all these dubious decisions we see EVERY DAMN WEEK now. The smarter bet for a Bud, for a guy capable of it, who wouldn’t be going way outside his comfort zone or trying to be something he’s not, would be to fashion himself a bit more in the “closer” role. Mac didn’t disagree with me. He agrees that judges are dropping shrooms, or something, before work, and in fact, was telling Crawford yesterday, on the way back from Vegas and the Bradley fight, that in retrospect he might have considered letting Bud out of his cage against Beltran several rounds earlier. He won a UD12, but there is nothing like the buzz conjured in this world of GIFs when you score a highlight-reel KO, as Andy Lee did on Saturday night.
Mac gave TC an A- for the Beltran bout, versus a B- for the Gamboa outing; but his grading is as it should be, submitted by someone who LOVES the athlete and wants him to not be careless and engage in foolish trading, as Mac says TC did versus Gamboa a couple times. “Against Gamboa, he got effing crazy,” the trainer admitted. “He was not moving his head, and he got clipped, and it was the first time since he was 7 I’d seen him hurt!” he said. “Against Beltran, he didn’t get crazy.”
But, Mac assured me, we are on the same page. In this era of crap decisions, and the short attention span of viewers and the younger demo, a focus on stepped-up offense makes the soundest business sense. It sounds like it will be done with maximum wisdom, with care being taken not to sacrifice smart defense at the altar of the O…but I think next fight, be it against Diaz, Algieri or Provodnikov, or someone else, we will see a bit more of the “closer” in Bud.
MacIntyre said, in closing: “Whoever we fight, we’re gonna pick up the pace.”
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