Sure, WBO champ Terence Crawford (34-0, 25KOs) ‘whacked up a welterweight' in the game Jose Benavidez Jr (27-1, 18KOs) via spectacular 12th round TKO in front of 13,323 frenzied hometown fans at CHI Health Center in Omaha on ESPN, but is he “Money” enough to carry the sport of boxing or are we smoking too much “Bud”?
Sitting amongst the crowd, in the equivalent of the middle of nowhere in middle America, is business tycoon and investment mogul Warren Buffett..
..ostensibly to enjoy a firefight as a fight fan. But this is no ordinary fight fan. Buffett is a huge investor in Crawford and has come to witness a glimpse of his product's future. Boy did he get it.
After a promotion that managed to rage into a right hook that almost was at the weigh-in, “Bud” delivered an anticlimactic blunt to the face of Benavidez in the form of a right uppercut from pound-for-pound depths. The brutal flurry that forced referee Celestino Ruiz to halt things at 2:42 in the 12th was mere icing on a freshly sliced cake. Knockouts in the last frame are rare, often reserved for special fighters that assume risk. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, another tycoon who dropped pounds on Bud, sees new “Money” in Crawford.
“Most fighters today in that position, having clearly won the fight, would back off in the 12th round and not take any chances and run out the clock. Not him, he's a performer. He wanted to close the show, and that's what he did, and that makes him special. Look at what we have with other fighters today. That is not the mindset most of them have. But Terence is a showman. He wants to make a statement. We know he's a brilliant fighter, but to be so crowd-pleasing makes him special. Next year when he moves into the pay-per-view arena, people will remember that and want to see him fight because he's so entertaining.”
—Bob Arum, high on Bud's TKO of Benavidez
But now that Bob has mentioned Crawford and PPV (something he helped destroy after conning the public with the trifling Floyd Mayweather V Manny Pacquiao fiasco), who does Arum get to appease and/or ultimately please ESPN besides Viktor Postol to dance with? It'll take creative posturing, but building a superstar fighter for public consumption usually involves matching that fighter with a former superstar.
The only fighter I can think of who fits this profile is a still unbeaten Mayweather that Warren Buffett still has ties to. With 5 straight KO's and a need for a new Super Six at glamorous welterweight, if Bud could make defeated change out of “Money” only then would he possess the coveted position of #1 at 147 — at least in the public's eyes. Perception trumps reality among fans of the sweet science, and despite what Floyd no longer is, a win over “TBE” would have people going: “Spence when?” However, while Bud finished in scintillating fashion, the performance was not without its flaws.
The Crawford we witnessed on Saturday night would've been bodied by IBF king Errol Spence, and I'm not so sure he'd “whack up” a real welterweight in WBA super champ Keith “One-Time” Thurman. Crawford still exhibits occassional balance issues and will square up at bad angles with his chin in the air. Against what we can technically call a “shot fighter” in Benavidez, a defensively undisciplined Bud was hammered by right hands a really decent pro slips. Never particularly fast and working on a knee permanently changed by a gunshot blast, Benavidez was able to strike the ambidextrous star rather cleanly on several occasions. Had that been Spence, you could count on him getting Crawford “drunk.” While we didn't see the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world (that would still be Vasyl Lomachenko), we did see the world's most exciting welterweight with something to prove, something Mayweather – who never really gave a damn about proving anything – never was.
“I did what I said I was going to do, that's all that needs to be said,” said Crawford, with so much more to be done. For the other champions at 147, try smoking Bud at your own risk.
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