Terence Crawford ripped the WBO welterweight world title away from Jeff Horn with a dominating performance in conquering his third weight division before a largely partisan crowd on Saturday. The end came at the 2:33 mark of round nine when referee Robert Byrd rescued Horn as he was being punished against the ropes.
Any doubts about size differences faded quickly round by round.
Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) showed his Nebraska followers and those he’s gathered the past years at the MGM Grand, that any questions of size handicaps do not exist. A crowd of 8,112 saw the former lightweight and super lightweight titlist slide smoothly into the 147-pound division.
From the opening round Crawford looked to test Horn’s chin with an exchange of blows that saw both connect and both slightly blink. The slick fighter from Omaha then shifted into a southpaw stance for the next four rounds.
Horn has an awkward style of fighting that includes feints and quick rushes. The speed of those rushes saw Crawford careful about not getting caught unaware. Every time Horn rushed Crawford grabbed the Aussie tightly into a clinch. Horn continued to punch through each clinch until warned not to do so by the referee.
Most of the rounds rarely saw the usual speedy combinations Crawford has nearly patented. Instead he settled for maneuvering around and firing pot shots at Horn who was able to withstand the blows. Every so often the two would exchange but not enough to wobble the other.
In the fifth round Crawford set his feet and exchanged with Horn. Both fired freely with Crawford landing more but still not fully unloading. But he got a taste of what Horn had to offer and the stage was set.
Crawford opened the eighth round with a powerful left hand counter to the body that seemed to sap the energy out of Horn. Both traded blows but at the sound of the bell Crawford connected with a thundering left cross. It was a sign of dire consequences for Horn.
In the ninth, a left uppercut followed by a combination sent Horn reeling. As he reeled, his gloves touched the canvas and it was rightfully ruled a knockdown. The end came moments later with Horn trapped in his corner.
“Like I said, I’m strong. I’m way stronger than him,” Crawford said after the fight. “I want all the other champions. Lets make it happen.”
“Well done. He’s a great fighter,” said Horn. “He’s strong. He didn’t seem like a small guy. I wish I could keep going to the end.
The WBO Latino lightweight title changed hands as Puerto Rico’s Jose Pedraza (24-1, 12 KOs) busted up Mexico’s Antonio Moran (22-3, 15 KOs) early in the fight and then out-slugged the taller and aggressive fighter for 10 back and forth rounds.
Around the second round a right uppercut by Pedraza seemed to split the outside of Moran’s nose and from that point on blood poured down until the final bell. On several occasions the two lightweights battled it out with tremendous blows but the Puerto Rican fighter used jabs and some riveting lefts to the body to sap the energy of the Mexican fighter. In the last three rounds Moran seemed to tire and Pedraza switched from orthodox to a southpaw stance. All three judges scored it 96-94 for Pedraza who now holds the WBO Latino title.
“He took a good shot so he surprised me,” said Pedraza a former IBF super featherweight titlist. “My desire is to fight for the WBO world title.”
Jose Benavidez (27-0, 18 KOs) proved no rust exists as he eliminated Venezuela’s Frank Rojas (22-1, 21 KOs) with a left hook to the body followed by a right cross that ended the WBA welterweight title elimination contest at 1:24 of the first round.
Benavidez, 26, and at one time the interim WBA super lightweight titlist, seems to have returned from the two-year absence following a gunshot to the leg with a new sense of urgency and two knockouts to show this year.
The Phoenix-based fighter now fighting as a welterweight wasted no time in connecting with a left to the liver of Rojas in less time then it took to announce the fighters to the crowd. It was Rojas first loss as a pro. He barely fired a blow in the contest.
Olympic star Shakur Stevenson (7-0, 4 KOs) seemed to face a credible foe on paper with Brazil’s Aelio Mesquita (16-2, 14 KOs), but from the opening bell it was a mismatch as he floored the Brazilian five times in winning by knockout. Maybe Stevenson is simply too good for anything but a contender as he seems to have adapted to the pro style with ease. No longer do you see the speedy pitty-pat punches. Instead the Philadelphia featherweight unloaded blinding power shots for which Mesquita had no answer. On one of the knockdowns in the second and final round Stevenson was deducted a point for hitting Mesquita while down by the referee. But overall Stevenson looked a supremely talented pro ready to take on the next level of opponents. After a blinding five-punch combination culminated with a laser like left cross knockdown of the Brazilian, referee Vic Drakulich stopped the fight at 1:45 of the second round.
Maxim Dadashev (11-0, 10 KOs) used a busy attack to keep former world champion Darleys Perez (33-4-2, 21 KOs) from getting a foothold throughout the NABF super lightweight title fight. Though Perez kept pace skill-wise, he couldn’t match the sheer number of punches from the Oxnard-based fighter and eventually was floored in the 10th and final round with a series of blows and ending with a right cross. Referee Jay Nady stopped the fight at 1:49 of the 10th round and the knockout win gives Dadashev the vacant title.
Nebraska’s Steve Nelson (11-0, 9 KOs) battered Dashon Webster (10-2, 6 KOs) and dropped him in the fifth round. Then the light heavyweight overwhelmed him with a five-punch barrage that prompted referee Russell Mora to halt the fight and declare a knockout win for Nelson at 43 seconds of the sixth and final round.
Israel’s David Kaminsky (2-0) floored Kansas middleweight Trevor Lavin (1-1) twice with thudding body shots resulting in a knockout win at 1:12 of the second round. Right hooks from the southpaw Kaminsky did the job and forced referee Benjy Estevez to halt the fight without a count. Kaminsky is managed by Egis Klimas.
Stockton’s Gabriel Flores (8-0, 5 KOs) used a strong left jab and some flashy combinations to dominate the four round lightweight match with Mexico’s Jorge Rojas (4-4-1, 2 KOs). Despite the domination Rojas was never in serious trouble but could not pass the strong jab of Flores. All three judges scored it 40-36 for Flores.
Photo credit: Al Applerose
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