Omaha, this Bud’s for you
Omaha, Nebraska’s Terence “Bud” Crawford will make the second defense of his WBO world lightweight title when he meets Raymundo Beltran, 29-6-1 (17), this Saturday, Nov. 29, on HBO. Top Rank Promotions CEO Bob Arum is bringing his new champion back to the CenturyLink Center again in Omaha where Crawford is quickly turning into his own one-man franchise. The first Crawford home game in June did strong numbers (over 10,000 in attendance) and Arum expects this show to do even better.
Crawford is a perfect 24-0 (17) and looks to stay unbeaten heading into 2015. He quietly went about amassing a perfect ledger after turning pro in 2008. By 2013, five years later, he was 21-0 and picking up his first title when he beat Alejandro Sanabria to capture the vacant WBO NABO lightweight title via sixth round TKO.
Two fights later, Crawford got his shot at a world title. He had to travel to champion Ricky Burns’ backyard in Glasgow, Scotland to challenge for the trinket but he was more than happy to make the trip across the pond.
He upset hometown hero Burns, who was making the fifth defense, via 12 round unanimous decision to capture the WBO lightweight title. Defending the title for the first time back home in Omaha in June, Crawford defeated highly respected Yuriorkis Gamboa with a ninth-round stoppage in front of a raucous hometown crowd.
This upcoming title defense will be an interesting affair because challenger Beltran fought to a much disputed draw against Burns in September of 2013. As a result, many have claimed Beltran is an uncrowned champion. Beltran knows he got jobbed on the cards in Scotland so he will be looking to make a mark this time, leaving nothing to chance or to the judges. Beltran, a native of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, who now lives in North Hollywood, California, knows title shots don’t come along everyday so he will be looking to make the most of this one.
Meanwhile, Crawford has enjoyed his newfound status as a respected world champion in his hometown and has no plans of letting his belt get away anytime soon.
A confident champion, a determined challenger, an electric atmosphere – folks, it looks like we have a fight on our hands.
Arum has long been a master at building regional stars throughout his Hall of Fame career. He knows a follow-up blockbuster to reignite the buzz created by Crawford’s June win over Yuriorkis Gamboa could place Omaha as a Midwest hotbed for fights based on Crawford. Arum recently said, “This fight between Crawford and Beltran could very well be the fight of the year. The styles and skills of both fighters guarantee as much.”
Beltran knows if he can pull off the win, he is looking at some great opportunities that come with owning a world title. At 33, he knows the time is now to score the win he needs to define his career. “Crawford has shown to be a talented fighter and is someone I respect. But I see this fight as an opportunity for me to achieve the recognition in the boxing world and the public’s eye. This is my moment,” said Beltran.
But Beltran has a job on his hands to pull off the win. In Crawford, he is facing a fiercely determined fighter who is showing a well-rounded skill set as a boxer and a banger. Crawford is also relishing his status as the top dog among the lightweights and is in no hurry to relinquish his portion of his throne. He also knows that if he keeps winning, there are some very lucrative match-ups a few pounds north in the junior welterweight division, which features stars like Danny Garcia and Adrien Broner, who are always looking for a marquee bout.
Arum knows a great house when he sees one and loved what he saw – and felt – the first time around in June. Crawford’s exciting title defense was the first world title fight in Omaha since local hero Ron “The Bluffs Butcher” Stander challenged Smokin’ Joe Frazier for the world heavyweight crown back in 1972. If the turnout the first time was out of curiosity, it will be out of a renewed passion for live boxing this time.
“I think that as enthusiastic as the crowd was the first time, I think that there will be even more excitement the second time for Terence,” Arum recently said. “You have to remember that the first time, we were selling to people on the fight who hadn’t seen one ever before. I would say that a great majority of the people who attended the fight, that was the first fight show that they had ever seen.”
But not this time. Omaha is well aware who Terence Crawford is and they like what they saw last time. They have one of boxing’s hottest new stars to call their own and they like the fact he is giving them home games.
“It’s an honour to fight in my hometown during the holiday season in front of my fans and family who will be traveling to Omaha. It’s great that Top Rank and HBO are coming back into town to promote another show on one of the biggest weekends of the year. My team and I are training hard to put on a good show for everyone. No one will be disappointed,” said Crawford.
Hits ‘N’ Misses
– Actor Mickey Rourke, 62, is returning to the ring. He will fight 29-year-old Elliot Seymour on Nov. 28 in Moscow in a five-round bout. This will take place shortly before they cart out what is left of Jose Luis Castillo to face former WBO junior welterweight world champion Ruslan Provodnikov. The card is brought to you by Depend, Grecian Formula and Ben-Gay.
– There are a lot of turkeys in boxing! This weekend, the Oscar De La Hoya Foundation hosted its 18th annual turkey giveaway with the support of fighters Randy Caballero, Hugo Centeno Jr., Gabriel Rosado, Joseph Diaz Jr., Julian Ramirez and Diego De La Hoya. They helped distribute hundreds of turkeys at Oscar De La Hoya Ánimo Charter High School in East L.A. Also on Saturday, former world champion Abner Mares hosted his second annual turkey giveaway in Hawaiian Gardens, CA. In Gilroy, CA., Robert Guerrero, in cooperation with the Salvation Army, will be handing out Thanksgiving turkeys on Nov. 26 to those less fortunate. Finally, super middleweight contender Jesse Hart and Philly ring legend Eugene “Cyclone” Hart presented their first annual turkey giveaway at Edward Gideon Elementary School on Saturday in Philly. Great stuff, guys!
– IBF middleweight champion Jermain Taylor has been charged with first-degree battery and making terroristic threats for an August shooting at his home. He is facing up to 26 years in prison if convicted.
– Chris Algieri trainer Tim Lane, pre-fight on Manny Pacquiao-Algieri: “This is not as tough a fight as Ruslan [Provodnikov]. Styles make fights and Manny Pacquiao, being a lefty and what he brings to the table, I do not feel that to be as challenging as Ruslan. I feel that Chris will dominate Pacquiao more so than he did Ruslan – with two eyes.”
– Lane, pre-fight on Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach’s predictions of an early night: “If I was in Freddie’s shoes: I would be talking a lot too because he knows what the outcome of the fight is going to be and he’s got to blow a bunch of smoke. I love Manny Pacquiao but he’s not beating Chris and I think Freddie is aware of that and that’s why he’s barking.”
– Hmmm…with a charge who isn’t a huge puncher, “keeping him in his cage before I let him out of his cage” (late in the fight and way behind on the cards) to go after Pacquiao was an interesting strategy by Lane. And when I say, “interesting,” I mean “ridiculous” and “delusional.”
– There used to be a lot of talk in years about what Pacquiao had to do in order to possibly secure a date with Floyd Mayweather Jr.: weight, drug testing, purse split, venue, promoter, beat this-or-that opponent; you name it. But let’s be clear: the only thing that will stop this fight from happening is Mayweather’s refusal to get in the ring with Manny.
– Arum on a possible Mayweather-Pacquiao bout in 2015: “Answer the telephone, simple as that. I think that fight should happen. The fight has to happen; all the nonsense has to cease. There’s no excuse anymore. So I’ll be at the phone and so will Manny. The fans deserve this fight. If boxing is to be considered a major sport, the fight has to happen.”
– Roach on a possible Mayweather-Pacquiao bout in 2015: “We are calling you out Floyd; come to the table.”
– Writing soundtrack this weekend: Deep Purple’s “Machine Head.” Classic!