Terence Crawford, Showing Greatness, Dominates Best Opponent

Terence Crawford has always looked like he is the complete package, but until Saturday night on HBO Pay-Per-View, he didn’t have a name on his resume like Viktor Postol. Now he does. And he didn’t just beat the most difficult foe of his career: He utterly dominated him.

In facing the other best fighter at 140 pounds, Crawford became the new true champion at junior welterweight. And he probably now belongs among the best five fighters in the world, period.

There were some who hated this performance, and wished Crawford hadn’t been “running” so much. To each their own. His excellence, however, is hard to deny.

Crawford took the first four rounds to size up Postol, “size” being the operative word. Postol’s height and length, the likes of which he had never encountered in the ring, clearly gave Crawford some trouble. Postol moved forward, left hand extended way out, legs spread apart, maximizing his advantage. Crawford switched to southpaw almost immediately and stayed there the rest of the fight.

Almost nothing in the first four rounds distinguished either man, and this part of the fight probably didn’t turn anyone on. Both seemed reluctant to open up, as perhaps is befitting two natural counterpunchers. Postol played the role of ineffective aggressor; Crawford, the role of someone trying and failing to find the range. They split the rounds.

Then, a split second in to the 5th, Crawford exploded from his corner and connected with a right on the top of Postol’s head, dropping him to one knee. After he rose, the two men got entangled, and Crawford lifted him up and spun him around comically. The smile on his face belied his forthcoming aggression. A counter left in close sent Postol stumbling backward and down.

From there, it really was all Crawford. There was probably a method to that early madness. By switching directions so beautifully, Postol was left without a clue about how to connect on Crawford. By the time Crawford mixed in an uptick of violence, Postol was even more confused. And he had no backup plan, no ability to adjust, typical of Freddie Roach-trained fighters who often come in with the right idea, but, when confronted with that blueprint not working, just get worked instead.

There were a handful of breathtaking maneuvers from Crawford in there, stuff you only see special fighters do. There was a moment along the ropes where he stepped one direction, faking like he was going to keep going that way, then stepped back in the other direction and threw a left. If it had connected in full, Postol wouldn’t have been there anymore — he didn’t see that coming at all. Only Crawford’s inaccuracy led to the cluffing blow. Later, Crawford ducked a shot and landed a crazy-angled jab from up and under Postol’s arm.

Postol came out in the 12th with some gusto, but after trading a little, he was backing up, clearly wary of Crawford’s power. Postol mugged to the final bell.

There’s been speculation about Manny Pacquiao facing Crawford upon his un-retirement. It’s hard to imagine him wanting anything to do with this guy, especially after seeing how Pacquiao did against an opponent with some similar qualities, Floyd Mayweather. No matter. Crawford is here to stay. He’s a handful for anyone at 140-147 lbs., surely even the favorite. He’s damn good.

(LAS VEGAS — Junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford celebrates his unanimous decision victory over Viktor Postol of Ukraine at the MGM Grand Garden Arena; Photo: Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.