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Terence Crawford vs. Raymundo Beltran tonight on HBO

By Dan Ambrose: WBO lightweight champion Terence Crawford (24-0, 17 KOs) will be making his second and likely his last defense of his World Boxing Organization 135 pound title tonight against #1 WBO Raymundo Beltran (29-6-1, 17 KOs) on HBO from the CenturyLink Center, in Omaha, Nebraska, USA.

Crawford, a Top Rank promoted fighter, will probably be moving up to 140 after this fight to go after a bigger money fight against Manny Pacquiao. The money that Crawford can get from that fight is a lot more than he can get if he stays at lightweight and continues to defend his title against the mostly obscure opposition in this weight class.

To be sure, there are some good fighters at lightweight, but unfortunately the casual boxing fans have no clue who these fighters are.

Crawford successfully made weight last Friday in coming in right at the lightweight limit at 135. Beltran weighed in at 134.8 pounds.

Also on the card is IBF featherweight champion Evgeny Gradovich (19-0, 9 KOs) defending his title against #11 WBA, #12 IBF, #15 WBO Jayson Velez (22-0, 16 KOs) in the co-feature bout. Gradovich weighed in at 126 pounds on Friday at the weigh-in. Velez weighed in at 126 as well.

Crawford is coming off of a hard fought 9th round knockout win over Yuriorkis Gamboa last June. Crawford got the victory, but he was staggered late in the fight, and he struggled in the first four rounds before recording a knockdown in the 5th after Gamboa slipped on the canvas.

“My thought about that is I have been at this weight for a long time, and I feel like it’s best that I move up,” Crawford said to ESPN.com. “Me and my team talked about it and said, ‘Let’s go for it.’ There are a lot of great fights at 140 and names to choose from. It’s a stacked weight class, all the way to 147, so it shouldn’t be a problem getting fights with bigger names at 140 and eventually at 147. I want to make a run toward that greatness and the pound-for-pound list.”

140 will be a lot tougher division for Crawford than 135. He doesn’t match up well against the likes of Pacquiao, so that’s a fight you can pretty much count as a defeat for Crawford. Further, Crawford will have a tougher time against guys like Chris Algieri and Ruslan Provodnikov.

Crawford should be OK as long as he doesn’t fight the likes of Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse. Those guys are with Al Haymon, and that means it’s unlikely that Crawford will ever have to fight either of them during his career.

Crawford can’t afford to look beyond Beltran, because this guy can really punch with his left hook. Beltran has better power than Gamboa, and his chin is a lot sturdier. Crawford won’t be able to count on Beltran falling apart in the later rounds like he did with Gamboa, because that’s not likely to happen. First off, Beltran has a better chin than Gamboa. He also is a natural lightweight, and not someone fighting out of his weight class like Gamboa was.




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