Is Viktor Postol a Live Underdog? – If a boxer’s won-loss record was the best barometer of his capability, then Saturday’s fight between WBO champion Terence “Bud” Crawford and his WBC counterpart Viktor Postol could not be more even. The fighters have matching 28-0 records. But, of course, in no other sport are records as deceiving as in boxing. This is no “pick-em” affair, but a match in which Crawford is a substantial favorite, roughly 6/1 when the juice is extracted from the prevailing odds to create a man-to-man betting line.
Is Postol a good value at that price?
Is Viktor Postol a Live Underdog?
In Postol’s favor, he has elevated his game since hooking up with legendary trainer Freddie Roach. Their first of three collaborations came in May of 2014 when Postol faced Selcuk Aydin at the Forum in Los Angeles. Postol dominated the match prior to knocking out the 26-2 Turk with a crushing right uppercut in the 11th stanza. The ref didn’t bother to count.
A lopsided 8-round decision over Jake Giuriceo in a stay-busy fight preceded his next major bout, a match with Lucas Matthysse. Postol upset the Argentine knockout artist and did it in a manner that said that he was something more than just a solid technician. He used his long reach to good advantage, worked the body to good effect, and ended matters in the 10th frame with a straight right hand that sent Matthysse crashing to the canvas. He stayed down on one knee, dabbing at his left eye, as the referee completed the count.
The victory brought Postol the title vacated by Danny Garcia when he moved up in weight and his showing so impressed the members of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board that Postol was boosted into the #1 slot in the 140-pound division, a notch above Terence Crawford. (Strangely, Crawford’s name appears on the TBRB list of the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters whereas Postol is unlisted.)
There are still questions about Postol, however. How will he react to fighting on such a big stage? His signature fight with Lucas Matthysse was only his fourth bout on American soil and the first of those four to be accorded top billing on the marquee. This will also be Terence Crawford’s first PPV fight, but he is more accustomed to fighting on television and being the headliner.
Standing 5’11” (he appears taller) with a 73-inch reach, Viktor Postol had physical advantages over Selcuk Aydin and Lucas Matthysse that won’t be as pronounced vs. Crawford. Based on the figures provided by BoxRec, Postol had an 8-inch longer reach than the 5’7” Aydin and a four-inch longer reach than the 5’6 ½” Matthysse. Crawford stands 5’8” and his reach has been measured at 70 inches.
In Lucas Matthysse, Postol was meeting a stout-hearted warrior but perhaps a man who was ripe to be taken after too many wars. Matthysse’s 2014 slugfest with John Molina was named The Ring magazine Fight of the Year and his bout the next year with Ruslan Provodnikov was a strong candidate for that honor. Those were the sorts of hell-for-leather fights that shorten a boxer’s career.
As for Terence Crawford, his recent showings suggest that he is a rare talent. Knowledgeable fight fans marvel at his ability to switch between southpaw and orthodox stances without losing precision or power. Moreover, although Crawford doesn’t always make smart decisions outside the ring – he was arrested in April for allegedly causing $5000 damage to a hydraulic lift in a dispute with an Omaha car shop owner – he is a smart fighter who has reaped accolades for his ring generalship.
Bob Arum has a larger investment in Crawford than in Viktor Postol, a salient handicapping variable. If history is any guide, the odds favoring Crawford will shorten, making him more appealing from a risk/reward standpoint. But there’s a wild card factor.
Fighters from countries in the former Soviet Union are making great strides. Once identified with the heavyweight division, boxers from this region are succeeding across a broader spectrum. Postol hails from the Ukraine, the land that brought us the remarkable Klitschko brothers, and Ukrainians in particular have powered this surge.
Vasyl Lomachenko’s demolition of Roman Martinez last month wowed the cognoscenti. Cruiserweight Oleksandr Usyk (who has yet to appear in the United States), light heavyweight Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, and middleweight Sergiy Derevychenko (who is in action tomorrow night, July 21) are all undefeated and seemingly headed toward big money bouts. Then there’s 10-0 Oleksandr Gvosdyk, a light heavyweight with one-punch knockout power. Gvosdyk will appear on the TV portion of Saturday’s show at the MGM Grand.
A horseplayer with whom I was once acquainted was partial to betting horses from hot barns – horses whose stablemates were in excellent form. The Ukrainian “barn” is a hot barn right now.
Is Viktor Postol a Live Underdog?