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Crawford faces Diaz this Saturday on HBO

Bernard Hopkins Felix Diaz Terence Crawford

By Chris Williams: WBA/WBC light welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford (30-0, 21 KOs) will be inside the ring defending his titles this Saturday night against 2008 Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz (19-1, 8 KOs) on HBO World Championship Boxing at Madison Square Garden in New York. It’s nice to see Crawford fighting in a different venue than in Omaha, Nebraska, where he’s been fighting a lot lately.

If Top Rank is going to turn Crawford into a star, they’re going to need to have him fight in places like New York, Las Vegas, Nevada and California. Crawford needs to be moved around the U.S instead of mainly fighting in his hometown of Omaha. There’s a certain amount of risk involved with Crawford fighting outside of his hometown, because he doesn’t always mix it up to make things exciting. Crawford moves a lot, and his fights are sometimes boring to watch due to his counter punching style.

Hopefully the New York boxing fans don’t boo Crawford on Saturday if he chooses to move like he did in his fights against Viktor Postol and John Molina. Crawford ran around the ring sticking his tongue out at Postol in the 12th round of their fight last July. The Las Vegas crowd was patient with Crawford, but it was a really poor way to end the fight on his part. There’s a right way and a wrong way to try and become a star in the sport. The wrong way is to stall out a fight by running around the ring and sticking your tongue out at your opponent. The right way is to go after them until the final bell, trying to knock them out so that you can give the boxing fans an exciting show.

Diaz, 33, has one controversial loss on his resume to Lamont Peterson in April 2015 in losing a 12 round majority decision. Diaz fought well enough to win, but two of the judges gave the fight to Crawford. Boxing News 24 scored the fight 116-112 for Diaz. The scoring was not good at all. Diaz wasn’t getting credit for controlling many of the rounds with his aggression and solid punching. It was one of those fights where Diaz probably needed a knockout to get the win.

Former world champion Bernard Hopkins believes that Crawford is going to put on a show this Saturday. Hopkins compares Crawford to former IBF/WBA/WBC junior middleweight champion Donald Curry with the way he fights. Curry was known for his low punch output and the way he would strike with accurate punches. Where Curry fell apart in his career was when he fought brawlers with high work rates like Lloyd Honeyman, and big punchers in Terry Norris, Mike McCallum and Michael Nunn. Curry didn’t have lot of success with his career after being exposed by Honeyman in 1986 in getting stopped in the 6th. Once Honeyman created the blueprint in how to beat Curry, it was all downhill for the Texas native.

”On May 20, at Madison Square Garden, Terence Crawford will take on 2008 Olympic gold medal winner Felix Diaz,” said Hopkins about the Crawford vs. Diaz fight. ”It’s your next chance to see an elite talent at the height of his powers, because to me when the leather starts to fly, no one is cool under pressure as a man they call, ‘Bud.’ He dictates the pace of his fights,” said Hopkins.

To be sure, Crawford is a good boxer/puncher, but his fights are dull at times, quite dull. In watching Crawford’s recent matches against John Molina Jr. and Viktor Postol, it was like watching a movie with a lot of slow action with occasional very brief instances of excitement. Crawford used a lot of movement against Molina in beating him by an 8th round knockout last December at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska. Crawford only let his hands go in the 8th.

In rounds 1 through 7, Crawford was on his bike, moving and jabbing. For me, the fight was about as interesting as watching paint dry on a fence in the afternoon sun. It was interesting in the 8th when Crawford finally went on the attack, but it was so boring to watch the first 7 rounds. That kind of stuck with me. When you have to sit through 7 or more dull rounds, it’s not enough that the fight gets exciting in the 8th. The real question is why was Crawford fighting Molina? Why did Top Rank make that fight for Crawford? Going into the Crawford fight, Molina had lost 3 out of his last 5 fights. Molina’s record was 2-3 in his last 5 fights. Was Molina Jr. picked out purposefully as a showcase fight for Crawford?

You’d expect more from a WBA/WBC light welterweight champion, would you not? I thought it was a bad match-up from the jump, but I follow boxing and I’d already seen Molina totally schooled by Adrien Broner in 2015, Humberto Soto in 2014 and stopped by Lucas Matthyse. Those losses should have been enough for Molina not to get the fight with Crawford, but then again, I don’t what Top Rank was looking for in an opponent. If they just wanted someone that the hardcore boxing fans would recognize easily, then Molina Jr. was the perfect guy. But if they wanted someone that would give Crawford trouble in a competitive fight, then Molina was a very poor choice.

“Look at the way he controls the distance,” said Hopkins in praising Crawford. “He can hit you, but you can’t hit him. He knows exactly where he’s at, at all times, and he’s an excellent reader. He knows exactly where the punches are coming from, and he’s ready to counter. And when he switches his stance, look out, because lately Crawford has been fighting as a southpaw, allowing him better angles for his offense. And Terence has excellent footwork, taking small calculated steps to put himself in position to strike. Crawford reminds me of the great Donald Curry, otherwise known as the ‘Lone Star Cobra.’ And just like a cobra, Crawford goes from zero to 100 within a blink of an eye. He gets into a rhythm, hypnotizing his opponents. He uses his jab, to find the range; while he keeps his biggest weapon cocked and loaded, the straight left hand. His opponents are so mesmerized, that they can’t get away, and after a combination, Crawford cuffs his opponents hard and pushes off, putting them off balance and himself in position. And just like that cobra, he’s always dangerous,” said Hopkins.

Crawford has fought a lot of opposition that have fought stupid fights against him. Out of all the guys that Crawford has fought, almost every one of them has fought at a slow pace, letting Crawford pick them apart. They haven’t learned from the past in how to beat guys like Crawford. You don’t beat them by fighting slowly. You beat then by brawling with him, throwing nonstop punches, and staying in close, where Crawford is not nearly as effective. Viktor Postol gave Crawford all kinds of problems in round 12 of their fight when he suddenly got smart and lets hands go.

Postol got Crawford out of control, and he was able to hit him a lot and get the better of him. Crawford then got on his bike and ran around the ring sticking his tongue out at Postol. But the fact of the matter is, Postol showed in that brief instant how you best Crawford. You have to turn the fight into an ugly brawl that forces Crawford to fight the way you fight, not the way he likes to fight. What Postol showed in the 12th round is that Crawford is very mortal when it comes to brawling. He’s not very good at that kind of fighting.

Crawford is only good at fighting on the outside against guys that let him dictate a slow pace. It’s kind of sad that the fighters that have fought Crawford have had no clue how to beat him. In every case, they fought Crawford’s fight. It just shows you the quality of the trainers in boxing, because a good trainer would know history well enough to know how to beat someone like Crawford. Like I said before, just watch how Honeyman took Donald Curry apart in 1986. Honeyman wasn’t about to let Curry fight at a slow pace. He forced Curry to brawl, and he quickly disintegrated. A lot of boxing fans were shocked at seeing Curry exposed like that, but it was predictable because that’s how you beat fighters that fight at a slow pace.

“If Felix Diaz is going to have a chance in this fight, he’s going to need to jump on Crawford from round one, and make the fight as ugly as possible. But May 20th, we’re going to see the best Terence Crawford yet, and the Cobra will strike once again,” said Hopkins.

Hopkins understands how Diaz needs to go about trying to beat Crawford. Hopefully, Diaz’s trainer has his head glued on straight and has been working with him on getting a good game plan down for the Crawford fight. If you see Diaz coming out boxing Crawford on Saturday night instead of brawling with him, then you’ll know that Diaz’s trainer has failed to learn from the history of the sport. Diaz did a great job of pressuring boxer Sammy Vasquez in defeating him by a 10 round unanimous decision in July of last year. That was a great performance from Diaz. That’s exactly what Diaz needs to do against Crawford in order to get the ‘W’ this Saturday.

Also on the card is 35-year-old former world lightweight title challenger Raymundo Beltran (32-7-1, 20 KOs) facing Jonathan Maicelo (25-2, 12 KOs) in a scheduled 12 round fight for the vacant WBA International lightweight title. Beltran has won his last three fights since losing to Crawford in 2014. Beltran’s recent wins have come against Mason Menard, Miguel Angel Mendoza and Ivan Najera. In the Crawford fight, Beltran had little chance to do anything due to Crawford using a lot of holding and running around the ring. It was a very boring fight to watch. Without the referee stepping in to take points off from Crawford for all the holding he was doing, Beltran had no chance at all of winning. That was one of the more boring fights of Beltran’s career, but he couldn’t do anything about it, given that the referee wasn’t taking points off from Crawford for his frequent clinching.

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