Terence Crawford wins tonight, looks good tomorrow

New WBC/WBO/THE RING magazine junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford. Photo credit: German Villasenor

New WBC/WBO/THE RING magazine junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford. Photo credit: German Villasenor

 

 

It wasn’t pretty; it wasn’t particularly entertaining but over 12 mostly strategic rounds at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Terence Crawford tamed Viktor Postol. It was one of those outings in which trainers of the past would have said, “Win tonight; look good tomorrow.” That’s precisely what the Omaha native did in out-pointing Postol by the scores of 118-107 twice and 117-108 to unify the WBC and WBO junior welterweight titles.

 

There’s no denying his supremacy at 140 pounds and his standing as one of the premier prizefighters in the sport but, on this evening, there were no real style points earned by Crawford, who moved to 29-0 (20).

 

This fight was Crawford’s pay-per-view debut (more on that later) and what the viewing audience – however substantial or not – wasn’t treated to anything electrifying but something thoroughly effective. Crawford is a superlative tactician, one who is boxing’s version of a Swiss Army knife who can beat you in a variety of ways.

 

And versus the tall and lanky Postol, he employed lateral movement, understanding that most long-legged boxers have problems redirecting. The upright Ukranian could never get a bead on a perpetually moving target.”That is what boxing is all about. We did a film study of Postol and found out he needs to be set to throw his punches,” explained Crawford afterward.

 

Postol’s height and reach did trouble Crawford early on but, as is customary, Crawford made his usual adjustments, began to pick Postol apart and permanently changed the course of this contest by scoring two knockdowns in the fifth. It was this type of round that then allowed Crawford to play keep-a-away. Postol was unable to mount much of an offensive attack and rarely landed anything clean on Crawford. Actually hitting his foe with a combination was an impossibility.

 

Some will accuse Crawford of “Rigondeaux-ing” his way through this fight but, in all fairness, Postol was never going to be the dance partner who would allow for much fireworks. This was always going to be a chess match with boxing’s Bobby Fischer always being two steps ahead of Postol. And it has to be said that, unlike the Cuban southpaw, Crawford actually has a track record of exciting fights (Yuriorkis Gamboa) and has no problems in ending his bouts with exclamation points (Hank Lundy). But no, this wasn’t the type of of match-up that was ideal in making one’s pay-per-view debut.

 

It wasn’t a scintillating outing but as Larry Merchant told me on Sunday morning, “It’s an important result” and not just for him but for American boxing. And it says here that Crawford has made a strong case for being at the front of the line to face Manny Pacquiao, who returns (did he ever really leave?) on Nov. 5. The question is twofold: Do Pacquiao and his handlers dare take on such a difficult style at this juncture and can this pairing be made with the new economic reality that exists with the Pacquiao pay-per-view business?

 

But make no doubt about it; regardless of whom he faces in the near future, Crawford will be one of the toughest outs in boxing, one who not only possesses athleticism but also technical acumen, with the ability to be versatile and adaptable. He can beat you in a multitude of ways and, on this night versus Postol – who also came into the bout undefeated – he was calculating and cunning.

 

Crawford looked as good as anyone probably can against Postol and, for some, that probably wasn’t good enough.

 

But that’s precisely what he was as he added another belt to his collection – good enough.

 

 

RANDOM THOUGHTS AND MUSINGS/OBSERVATIONS

 

– Much was made of this being a pay-per-view card to the chagrin of Top Rank Promotions CEO Bob Arum, who risked his own dime to promote this show. But it’s interesting that some are so dismayed by this. First of all, nobody is forcing them to purchase any card (and the guess here is not many did) but, for years, Top Rank has put on pay-per-view cards – sometimes directly against HBO – to advance the careers of Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Erik Morales, among others, along with series such as “Latin Fury” and “Pinoy Power.”

 

I’m hearing that Crawford-Postol may not even break 50,000 buys, meaning Top Rank will take a financial loss on this promotion. However, Arum has made it clear that last weekend was an investment in the career of Crawford and Oscar Valdez, who shined on the undercard. But the reality is the stench from May 2, 2015 lingers and shows like this have suffered as a result.

 

It also didn’t help that Postol was a relatively unknown B-side and, as Gennady Golovkin-David Lemieux proved last October, just being on HBO numerous times does not ensure pay-per-view success. And there’s a reason why promoters and networks shy away from promoting major events in the summer.

 

This past week(end) in Vegas, the media center was about as empty as I can recall for a pay-per-view fight and the weigh-in on Friday afternoon was sparsely attended.

 

The MGM Grand Garden Arena was staged for just the lower bowl but a solid crowd of just over 7,000 did show up on Saturday night, which can be considered a success, considering the circumstances.

 

– Crawford isn’t the most gregarious personality and he’s not exactly a reporter’s dream but then you could argue that’s not his job. No argument there but, when it comes to pay-per-view promotions, being accessible is part of the gig. I found it rather amusing that he continued his jihad on BoxingScene.com (a website to which I also contribute), which is among the largest boxing news websites around.

 

The problem stems from the website running stories like this that stem from his dispute at an auto body shop earlier this year. Crawford basically “banned” this site from doing interviews with him from that point forward, whether it involved Victor Salazar in New York, a couple of months back, or last week at his media day at Fortune’s Gym, where he told “Radio Rahim” – whose work can be seen on various sites – that he wouldn’t do an interview with him if it were sent to BoxingScene.

 

Geez, last I checked, Crawford was a public figure and stuff like this is, well…news.

 

But it wasn’t just BoxingScene.com on his banned list; even news outlets in his hometown were given this treatment. (Now mind you, this is before a pay-per-view event, in which coverage is vital.) Throughout the week, as BoxingScene kept running stories with quotes from Crawford, word is he and his camp raised hell about it to Top Rank officials (poor Lee Samuels).

 

At the HBO fighters meetings on Friday, a source tells UCNLive that Crawford became agitated when the body shop incident was brought up.

 

It’s clear he really doesn’t like dealing with the media and that’s certainly his prerogative but the bigger problem is this feeling could become mutual.

 

– If there is any fighter who really needs not just a truce between Arum and Al Haymon but a real working relationship, it’s Crawford, who, coming into last weekend, had to settle for facing Thomas Dulorme, Dierry Jean and Henry Lundy as most of the other blue-chip talent in his weight class was across the street with Premier Boxing Champions.

 

And as you look at the landscape between 140 and 147 pounds, much of the marquee names are under the advisement of Haymon. Let’s just see how serious this detente is between the two power brokers. Wouldn’t you like to see Crawford match-up with IBF welterweight tiltist Keith Thurman, WBC welterweight beltholder Danny Garcia, Adrien Broner, Shawn Porter and Errol Spence Jr.?

 

– Arum ended things on Saturday night by rebuffing reporters who tried to ask him a few questions, stating he would refuse to talk to boxing reporters and only speak at press conferences.

 

Good grief; this is an epidemic!

 

Now, I’m not sure what brought about this new policy from Arum. My guess is the stress of this promotion and the realization that another pay-per-view of his will take a financial loss wore on him. And yeah, he got sick of hearing how last weekend’s card shouldn’t have been on pay-per-view. He wasn’t exactly thrilled by this piece, last week on UCNlive.com, from Boxing Don Dinkins either.

 

Regardless, how shutting out the press helps his cause is lost on me.

 

But geez, I’m gonna miss my chats with Arum…

 

 

FINAL FLURRIES

 

Did new WBO featherweight titlist Oscar Valdez look spectacular or what? Yeah, Matias Carlos Adrian Rueda may have been easy pickings but Valdez continued his run of eye-opening stoppages…Seriously, Adelaide Byrd needs to stop judging fights…Ryoto Murata looked improved this weekend…The Omegas were out in full force this weekend and they came out to support their fraternity brother Ed Williams on the Crawford-Postol undercard…Oh yeah, NFL team highlight films are now on. Pro football season is near…”The Night of” has been great on HBO…I passed by Buffalo Bill’s on the way back from Vegas and there was no sign of Mickey Donovan…I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.

 

 

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