When it comes to elite level fistic practitioners, even their least clamored fights are clamored for. The opportunity to witness one of boxing’s absolute best is an occasion, an event, regardless who’s standing in the opposing corner. Saturday, October 13th certainly qualifies as Terence “Bud” Crawford (33-0, 24 KO’s) defends his newly acquired WBO welterweight championship and status as one of the games top dogs pound for pound against the hungry and confident Jose Benavidez, Jr. (27-0, 18 KO’s). The bout will be held at the CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska, televised live on ESPN (9:30 PM CST).
Very quickly, Crawford-Benavidez has snowballed into a low-key grudge match; stemming from a pre-fight altercation between the two, February of this year in Corpus Christi. Prior to weighing in for his contest against Matthew Strode, Benavidez spotted and approached Crawford, accusing “Bud” of ducking him, by rejecting contractual offers to throw hands. “TC” is adamant about never being presented a contract to face Benavidez and scoffs at the notion of avoiding anyone. Since the fight became official, Benavidez persisted with claims of Crawford only facing smaller men and all but promising a knockout. They exchanged “pleasantries” Wednesday afternoon at an open workout attended by the media, consisting of racial rhetoric, threats and maternal insults. None of this will matter when the opening bell rings, but it’s certainly added intrigue to an affair that may not have moved the needle much otherwise, competitively speaking.
For what it’s worth, the bulk of Team Crawford’s focus has been on “TC’s” next move. Manager/trainer Brian “Bo Mac” McIntyre openly pressured Top Rank President, Todd DeBoef to make the biggest welterweight fights happen, during a recent media conference call. “We want after the champion’s man,” he said. “There is no reason to be fighting a No. 6 dude or a No. 7 dude. Terence wants the best fighters out there at 147. Right now the biggest name at the welterweight division for Terence is Errol Spence.”
But first things first; while Crawford-Spence is right there with Joshua-Wilder and Lomachenko-Garcia among our sport’s most sought after and important pairings, “TC” has to handle business Saturday night. And he will. Benavidez is listed at 6’2 (though he doesn’t appear to be quite that tall), has appreciable skills, hand-speed, works the body well and doesn’t appear to be offering up false bravado. But he’s not beating “Bud” Crawford. It’ll be spirited early, but by the 3rd-4th, Crawford’s fully in control and in route to stopping Benavidez by the 8th-9th.