LAST weekend, Gennady Golovkin staked his claim to the pound-for-pound throne with a dominant eighth round stoppage win over David Lemieux. On Saturday [October 24], Terence Crawford continues his assault on world supremacy when he defends his WBO super-lightweight title against Dierry Jean at the CenturyLink Centre in Omaha, his hometown.
In 2014, Crawford went from top contender to legitimate world-beater. He travelled to Glasgow to snatch the WBO lightweight title from Ricky Burns before facing the supremely talented Yuriorkis Gamboa in his first defence. It was a bold move and for the first few rounds looked to have been a mistake as the Cuban outclassed Crawford.
The champion remained composed and dropped Gamboa in the middle rounds while the fight turned into an all-out war. Crawford proved his sturdy chin and recuperative powers when hurt in the ninth as he continued to floor Yuriorkis before stopping him in the same round.
He then went on to retain his strap against dangerous Mexican Ray Beltran. Once again Crawford displayed a venomous side to his technical work, punishing Beltran on the ropes at times while also cuffing him with his potent counters.
Those wins made him the stand out performer of 2014 and talk turned to his eligibility as an elite fighter. The 28-year-old moved into some pound-for-pound rankings earlier this year when he won a world title in a second weight class – the one he defends against Jean – by emphatically stopping Thomas Dulorme in six rounds.
Although he is yet to beat a truly top-drawer fighter, Crawford looks very much like the real deal. Blessed with an enviable amount of talent and fiercely dedicated to the sport, Terence excels in almost every department. While he is a surgically proficient counter puncher, he is just as effective on the front foot.
American broadcast giants HBO caught on to Crawford’s brilliance fairly early on and are already building him into a star, alongside his promoters Top Rank. Both also deal with Manny Pacquiao, who could well select Crawford as his next opponent, should the unbeaten American impress against Jean.
And impress he must.
Jean is a quality operator with only one loss on his CV – a close decision reverse to then-world champion Lamont Peterson last year. However he is not expected to beat Crawford, nor is he the type of opponent that would help turn ‘Bud’ into a superstar.
The Haiti-born Canadian has predominantly fought at 140lbs though his last four bouts have been at lightweight. Though he lost on all three scorecards to Peterson, he gave the American all he could handle for 12 rounds. He has fought fairly limited opposition since, most recently outpointing Jerry Belmontes over 10 rounds in June.
That fight seemed to confirm the 33-year-old belongs at super-lightweight. He was clearly a level above Belmontes and landed plenty of solid blows but was never able to find the momentum to force a stoppage. It seemed his boiling down to lightweight affected his stamina as at times he coasted through rounds.
However he is not the busiest of fighters anyway, preferring to potshot and try to land his clubbing straight right – which is perhaps why Pacquiao used him as a sparring partner in preparation for Floyd Mayweather.
In order for Terence to sustain his meteoric rise, he must dazzle against Jean – though that is no easy task. Dierry keeps his hands low but has stellar upper body movement, making him hard to catch cleanly and he is also an adept counter puncher.
The switch-hitting Crawford is slick enough to avoid Jean’s powerful salvos and has the tools to outbox the game Canadian for a wide unanimous decision.