The War Report: Nice and easy (Week 33, 2017)
In the ring, and on the surface, results like these happen often in boxing: The primed fighter quickly out-classing a no-name opponent, matched with the intention looking great and, perhaps, with the hopes of adding some footage to the highlight reel in an effort to build the next one. Last Saturday night wasn’t exactly contrived to be that way as Terence Crawford quickly dispatched Julius Indongo within three rounds but, beneath the surface and outside the ring, moments like the one captured in this article’s header photo don’t happen often in boxing.
Crawford, 32-0 (23), became the undisputed junior welterweight champion in this moment and it’s hard not to recognize the crowd celebrating along with him. Fighting out of nearby Omaha, Nebraska, and in front of 12,000-plus fans at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Crawford forced them to get up off the seats he sold them, once landing a precise left hand to the body that sent Indongo, 22-1 (11), down instantly. It was the second time he found himself there but Indongo squirmed in pain on the canvas as the crowd grew louder, while referee Jack Reiss knelt over him over with his count. Once Reiss reached 10, the crowd rejoicingly put its hands in the air in some sort of reverse countdown to one of their own accomplishing a feat not many have in modern boxing. If not all, most of them even expected Crawford to do it but there has been a connection made in the Great Plains with this 29-year-old nicknamed “Bud,” and after having seen Terence walk to the ring through the crowd, maybe they couldn’t help but feel he’s a part of them.
With the championship fight televised on ESPN, Crawford’s debut on the network had plenty of eyes seeing him perform for the first time. Some of them are even watching boxing for the first time, and after either of which sees Crawford deliver an impressive knockout to win the championship, to then get drenched with affinity from an established crowd, it’s only human nature to go along with thinking there is something special happening. In Crawford’s case, those presumptions seem to be a sure thing as he continues to look better each time out.
“Well, I’m going fishing next, then I’m gonna rest up with my family. My coaches and my managers, they’re gonna see what’s next for me,” said Crawford in regard to his future when asked by ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna. (Crawford would later say he’s moving up to welterweight during an interview on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” the following morning.) Crawford has consistently maintained this motive after wins throughout a career that first started on HBO, and the hobby outside of boxing characterizes a placid personality that’s driven by the people around him, rather than the fame and wealth that comes with it. Nothing was more evident of that at the end of the interview when his kids were brought up, and with each one having a belt in hand, his middle child looked up at his dad with an endearing smile.
In the ring, and on the surface, Crawford makes it look nice and easy: commanding the ring in a calm manner, showing a versatility to adapt to any situation and, even to the untrained eye, managing a way to look miles ahead of the man in front of him. In post-fight interviews, his smoothness translates into a soft-spoken personality that doesn’t like to reveal too much but isn’t afraid to show the gap in his smile. Outside the ring and beneath the surface, however, Crawford isn’t exactly this tranquil competitor. Tempers have found a way to flare up around him and he has had no problem shunning reporters whom ask questions about his misdemeanors, perhaps annoyed that they never ask him about his yearly missions to Africa. Maybe he his a hothead sometimes, and, in the fight game, in which nothing comes nice and easy, that’s not necessarily a bad thing when constructing the anatomy of a champion.