Photo by Chris Farina/Top Rank
Before the euphoric buzz of Terence “Bud” Crawford’s (24-0, 17 KOs) career-defining ninth-round knockout of former unified featherweight titlist and 2004 Olympic gold medalist, Yuriokis Gamboa (23-1, 16 KOs), transitions into it’s half-life underneath what has been an active summer for boxing; one can’t help but mull over what’s next for the young lightweight champ?
Crawford, a technically sound switch-hitter, blends a solid ring IQ with a boxer-puncher’s approach in his aggressive but judicious efforts to “close the show” on his opponents. He’s willing to slug it out if provoked or threatened, although it should be noted that he has considerable defensive skills. Head movement, footwork and speed are all weapons in his arsenal. He is consistently showing improvement as he gains experience. Coming off such a spectacular title defense, it seems that the sky is truly the limit for the 26-year-old champion.
Late last year, Crawford’s previous HBO-televised undercard fight with Andrey Klimov was serenaded with boos from those in attendance. This led many to question his ability to become a major attraction despite his undeniable talent, and might explain why his successful attempt at the WBO lightweight title in March–held in Scotland, the backyard of the then titleholder Ricky Burns–was not picked up by HBO.
HBO’s airing of the Omaha native’s first hometown fight with Gamboa was a success, as it was the highest-rated Boxing After Dark of 2014. With that, Crawford adds “fight of the year candidate” to his impressive resume, answering those who questioned his potential to be an attraction.
Will Crawford look to unify the lightweight titles and clear out the division?
It’s uncertain, although he is capable. A move up in weight is a possibility for a big money fight with some of the notables in the super lightweight, junior welterweight and possibly welterweight divisions. What is certain is that Crawford’s team and Top Rank will look to capitalize on the momentum gained by Crawford’s scintillating defeat over Gamboa.
Another certainty is that the lightweight division is ripe with talent and prospective matchups that could provoke Crawford to substantiate his first-rate potential. Bob Arum has already mentioned that Crawford could be a prospective opponent for Manny Pacquiao a year from now.
Before we hop into the DeLorean and set it for a year from now, Arum has already penciled in a second title defense for Crawford on November 29, 2014 against the seasoned challenger Raymundo Beltran (29-6-1, 17 KOs). Beltran, a deserving but lesser known Mexican lightweight challenger, was jobbed in his previous attempt against Burns for the strap Crawford now holds.
To clarify, Beltran is certainly a worthy and acceptable opponent for Crawford; but there are three matchups I would consider to be more exciting, more noteworthy and could bump Crawford into the pound-for-pound conversation.