Terence Crawford will look to make a statement against Jose Benavidez Jr.
By Hector Franco | Senior Writer and Editor
Published: October 10, 2018
This weekend at the CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska fans will witness the return of one of the top two fighters in the world, Terence “Bud” Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs). Crawford will be making the first title defense of his WBO welterweight championship against Jose Benavidez Jr. (27-0, 18 KOs). The bout came together after a heated discussion the two men had at the weigh-in of Benavidez’s fight with Matthew Strode in February.
Both men are promoted by Top Rank, which made the fight easy to make. At 26 years old, Benavidez will be a massive underdog against the 31-year-old Crawford who has taken on the superior competition. Benavidez is best known for his fight with Mauricio Herrera in 2014, where he won a controversial unanimous decision over the aging veteran. In facing Crawford, Benavidez will be making a significant jump in level of competition. A victory for Benavidez will be put him at the top of the sport, and in many respects, the younger fighter does not have as much to lose as Crawford. Benavidez will have a mountain to climb in defeating Crawford, especially when facing the Nebraska native in his hometown.
In his last match, Crawford won the WBO welterweight championship by stopping Australia’s Jeff Horn in nine rounds. As expected Crawford was dominant against Horn and displayed the same level of technique and power he had in the lightweight (135) and super lightweight divisions (140). At lightweight, Crawford won the WBO lightweight title and defended the title twice against Yuriorkis Gamboa and Ray Beltran. In the super lightweight division, Crawford became the undisputed champion winning all four major world titles (WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO). Now that Crawford is at the welterweight division, many will be wondering if he will be as dominant at welterweight as he was at lightweight and super lightweight.
The welterweight division is filled with fighters that will be able to test Crawford’s skill set. The other champions in the weight-class are Keith Thurman, Errol Spence Jr., Shawn Porter, and Manny Pacquiao holds the ‘regular’ WBA welterweight title. At lightweight and super lightweight, Crawford did not run into any promotional issues in making fights with the other top fighters in those divisions. All of the opponents that fans want to see Crawford step in the ring with fall into the Al Haymon/Showtime promotional universe (Spence, Thurman, Porter). The President of Top Rank, Todd Duboef, who promotes Crawford has stated that they will attempt to make the biggest fights available for the Nebraska fighter.
The other champions in the division have been somewhat dismissive of Crawford. In comparison to Crawford, fighters like Spence, Thurman, and Porter are not nearly as accomplished. They may feel slightly intimidated at the thought of another fighter joining in the race for welterweight supremacy. IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence and Crawford have gone back and forth on social media. A bout between the two men at this time is one of the most anticipated matches in the entire sport. Crawford’s trainer and manager, Brian McIntyre wants to see Crawford against the best the welterweight division has to offer and will push for those fights to happen.
There are times in boxing where fighters are put into lose-lose situations. Most boxing experts and fans are expecting Crawford to blow through Benavidez easily. Should he run into any resistance, fans will quickly jump on the bandwagon of calling Crawford overrated. All Crawford can do in this situation is to look impressive in defeating Benavidez. In this situation, it will be more about how Crawford wins rather than if he does or does not win.
Crawford at times fights with a chip on his shoulder with a level of intensity that can take his performance to another level. Against Benavidez, Crawford and his team will look to send a message to the entire welterweight division. The bout will have implications as to where Crawford’s career moves from this point. This will be the beginning of Crawford’s quest to be considered the best fighter in the world and the best at welterweight.
(Featured Photo: Steve Marcus/Getty Images)