Are Terence Crawford and Jose Benavidez Jr. on a collision course?
Last Saturday night, two undefeated welterweights made a statement in their respective bouts, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In the main event, the pride of Omaha, Nebraska, Terence “Bud” Crawford moved to a perfect 33-0 (24), with a dominant performance in his welterweight debut. Crawford captured the WBO 147-pound title with a ninth round stoppage of former champion Jeff Horn.
In one of the chief support bouts, former interim WBA junior welterweight champion Jose Benavidez Jr. scored an impressive first round knockout over previously undefeated Venezuelan Frank Rojas.
While Rojas came into the bout sporting an impressive 22-0 (21) record, Benavidez quickly backed him up behind a good jab. Shortly into the fight, a vicious body shot followed by a right to the chin dropped and stopped Rojas.
However the performance of the night certainly had to be awarded to Crawford, who completely dominated Horn from the first round on, in an impressive, title-winning effort. Once Bud had his timing down, it was bombs away until referee Robert Byrd finally stopped the contest, with Crawford pouring on the punishment on a defenseless Horn.
Immediately after the bout, the questions started to come in as to whom Crawford would fight next. And the now-three-division champion made it clear that he wants the other champions. Not unlike his time mining the 135 and 140-pound divisions, it sounds like he is now after all the trinkets at 147.
“We here. Like I said, my power carried up and my physicality got stronger. We here now,” Crawford said. “I want the other champions. I want the big fights. Bob (Arum, Top Rank CEO), let’s make it happen.”
In a division that sports names like WBA champion Keith Thurman, IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. (who defends his title against Carlos Ocampo, tonight on Showtime) and longtime stars like Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, Manny Pacquiao and Jessie Vargas, there are certainly lots of options for Crawford.
Fight fans seem most excited about a match-up between Crawford and the highly-talented Texan Spence. However that bout would have promotional hurdles that would make it a little more difficult to secure right now.
So assuming Crawford wants to get back into the ring at least once more this year, then perhaps a Benavidez fight might just be the one that happens, sooner than later.
At the post-fight press conference, Arum made it clear that, if one of the bigger unification bouts can’t be made, there is a very good possibility that we could see Crawford and Benavidez squaring off.
“The kid (Benavidez) wants Terence and I don’t think it would be a difficult match to make,” the Hall of Fame promoter said. “I have to talk to his father and him and also to (trainer Brian) ‘BoMac’ (McIntyre) and Terence but certainly it’s a big possibility.”
Immediately after the fight, Benavidez took to social media and tweeted, “You haven’t seen the best of me yet. Where you at, Bud Crawford?” Clearly Benavidez is beating the drums to be Crawford’s first title defense.
There has reportedly been some tension between Crawford and Benavidez that stems back to an incident at a Top Rank show, last February, in Corpus Christi, Texas. Words were exchanged between them and ultimately Crawford remained fairly calm but Benavidez came away frustrated at not being able to pin down Crawford in a commitment to face him.
With Crawford now holding the WBO world welterweight title and with both fighters working under the Top Rank promotional banner, a fight between them seems like an easy fit.
In a recent interview, Benavidez, 27-0 (18), fresh off the win over Rojas, made it clear whom he would like to face next.
“I’d love to fight (Crawford); I’ve been trying to fight him,” said Benavidez. “A lot of people are scared of him but I’m not scared of anyone. I don’t duck or dodge no one. I’ll fight whoever they put in front of me. Crawford’s a good fighter; he’s a world champion for a reason. He’s got skills but I think it would be a good fight, a big fight, and I think it would sell. I think it would be a good fight for the fans. Hopefully we can make it happen.”
With the recent announcement that Crawford will be returning to the ring, in mid-October, on ESPN, don’t be surprised to see Bud and Benavidez locking horns.
* Sadly longtime Nevada boxing judge Chuck Giampa passed away, on Tuesday, at a hospice in Las Vegas, after a lengthy illness. Giampa enjoyed a 23-year career as a judge in Nevada and was considered one of the very best.
Rest in peace, Chuck.