BY TIM BURGESS
Boxing breeds an interesting persona among its competitors. You know the type. Loud, bombastic, self-promoters. Floyd “Money” Mayweather. “Iron” Mike Tyson. Huge personalties who match their skill in the ring with their mouth on the mic. But Terence “Bud” Crawford operates a little differently. When interviewed, Crawford comes off as shy and timid. In the post fight interview, usually with Max Kellerman, “Bud” generally sounds a bit agitated, and ready to move on. It’s real emotion from a real fighter: not all of us like talking, and Bud appears to be one of those people. But if you can get past Bud’s quiet persona and turn to the ring, you get the experience of viewing one of the absolute best fighters of a generation on display.
The first thing the layman notices about Crawford, who has already captured championship belts in two weight classes, is his ability to fight from both sides. Now I’m not talking about a guy who occasionally turns southpaw in order to try to throw off the timing of the guy in front of him but doesn’t have any skill or thump from the other side. Crawford can really fight from a left or right handed stance. The story goes that when Bud was a kid and training he had an injury that was going to keep him from boxing for an extended period of time. Instead of not boxing for that time, Bud learned to fight southpaw. Once he was healed, Crawford had the ability to fight from both sides, and well. The natural right hander has been taking a liking recently to coming out in a conventional stance in the first round. Then, once Bud has sized up his opponent appropriately, he switches to southpaw where he stays, and systematically dismantles his unsuspecting foe across the ring.
But while Bud has the skill and the pop to be a pay per view star, he doesn’t seem to be interested in the personality. Crawford’s quiet style has likely cost himself a good deal of money. He’ll headline another card this Saturday on HBO from Madison Square Garden, but the top level of the arena will be blocked off. Tickets were priced to move for the event, with seats going for as low as $30, and as of Thursday there were plenty available, even in boxing’s Mecca. Sure, Crawford’s opponent Felix Diaz isn’t a huge draw, but Gennady Golovkin has been able to sell out fights against similar level opponents on both coasts. Crawford has only accomplished that in his hometown of Omaha.
Crawford’s combination of skill and lack of recognition has also likely cost him some big fights. At this point in Crawford’s career I’m comfortable saying Bud would likely whitewash an opponent like Manny Pacquiao, who he shares a weight class with. And it would be an easy fight to make: both are promoted by Bob Arum of Top Rank. But that fight, and other high profile fights haven’t come. Like Golovkin before him, Crawford brings so much skill and not enough money for most big names to get in the ring with him. Diaz will be a live dog on Saturday night, but is unlikely to advance Crawford’s stardom.
On Saturday night, Terence Crawford steps in Madison Square Garden against Felix Diaz. He’ll likely outclass a tough opponent, winning most rounds. He’ll have a short, calculated post fight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman. Maybe he’ll become a pay-per-view star. Maybe he won’t. But whatever happens down the road, Crawford is the real deal in the ring. He is the steak; whether he adds the sizzle remains to be seen.
HAPPY KO DAY
Along with Crawford’s HBO card, Showtime also has a big boxing Saturday planned. Gervonta Davis will defend his IBF title live from the UK. After that, Gary Russell Jr. headlines a card from Maryland in which he faces Oscar Escandon.
Crawford by knockout. Bud has flashed more power recently than ever in his career, leading me to believe that at 29 we may be seeing Crawford at the height of his powers. Expect the KO to come from the southpaw stance.