Terence Crawford took on Andrey Klimov in the HBO TV opener, prior to the Miguel Cotto-Delvin Rodriguez main event, which unfolded Saturday night at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. Crawford, a slick and smooth pugilist, used movement and hand speed to get the better of Klimov (16-0 entering, with 8 KOs; from Russia), a come forward type, but truth be told, this was a waste of airtime.
Think I'm just being harsh? Klimov's trainer told him after the seventh and eighth rounds he was fighting like a "coward," and Crawford showed only rarely some of the skills which have made him an HBO favorite. His talent grade was two steps above Klimov, but he played it safe, smart and boring, and the viewers bore the brunt of that.
The judges gave Crawford the win, by scores of 100-90 times three, but why do I suspect that he will need to fight off the premium nets for awhile, to earn himself another invitation?
Crawford (21-0 with 16 KOs entering) told viewers that in 2008, he went out in a car to shoot dice and was shot in the head. He called it a "wakeup call." In the first round of the lightweight attraction, the Nebraskan Crawford, popped the jab, and showed great foot movement. In the second, he went lefty. The crowd booed a bit here, as Crawford is a cautious sort, not prone to wreckless abandon. In the third, the still lefty Crawford showed a right jab as peppy as the left. A left hook, maybe with a push, sent Klimov to the mat as the bell sounded.
In the fourth, Crawford heard boos again. You saw him rip two shots, and wonder why he didn't do it again, press an advantage. In the fifth, and the sixth, Klimov lacked fire, or a clear gameplan, beyond counting down the rounds. In the seventh, Crawford stepped up the work rate. He ripped a few shots, and we hoped maybe he snapped into another gear. After the eighth, trainer Shadeed Suluki, who used to work with Lamon Brewster, hammered Klimov, telling him he was fighting in a cowardly fashion. They finished the dreary waltz with the fans buzzing when they figured the final round was coming up.