Terence Crawford took it to Raymundo Beltran. | Photo: HBO Boxing
More than a year ago, Raymundo Beltran was in total control of and hammering away at Ricky Burns in Scotland, only to be robbed high and dry. In his first ever bid for a world championship, the native of Los Mochis, Mexico, walked away empty handed, the victim of a draw in a fight he clearly won going away.
Fast forward to March of this year and it was Terence Crawford who took it to Burns in Scotland, only this time the judges got it right. Crawford flew back to the U.S. with the WBO lightweight title around his waist, though he openly admitted that Beltran should have been awarded the belt before him.
Tonight in Crawford’s hometown of Omaha inside the sold-out CenturyLink Center, Beltran would finally get another crack at the title but he had to go up against the man regarded as the best at 135. It wouldn’t be easy. And when the 12th round ended to a rousing, raucous approval, it wound up not only being a difficult task for Beltran, it was a long and frustrating night at the office.
Crawford was absolutely masterful in what was a combination of the biggest fight of his young career up to this point and also his swansong at lightweight. Crawford knew he had to make a statement against one of the toughest cats in his division and though he didn’t score a knockout, he was sensational.
Crawford switched between conventional and southpaw throughout the contest and tore into the Mexican challenger from every angle imaginable. Crawford jabbed perfectly from the lefty stance, picking his foe apart from the outside. When Beltran was able to get inside -- a task more difficult than he had imagined -- Crawford gladly threw dazzling combos to the head and body. Beltran found himself behind the proverbial eight ball early and often; no matter how hard he tried to get into a rhythm, the defending champion made sure to keep him out of sync.
Crawford routinely unfurled sizzling counter right hands, pesky jabs to the face, and raking hooks to the body. It didn’t matter what Crawford unleashed: every punch seemed to find its mark. Beltran (29-7-1, 17 KOs) had little to no answers in every round and though he won a few frames here and there, he was in way over his head. Beltran normally is a fighter who can rely on his one-punch power, but even when he was able to land a clean shot on Crawford’s jaw, the local star brushed it off as if nothing happened.
Crawford wound up walking away with a unanimous decision. Judges Adalaide Byrd and Cesar Ramos both had him winning 119-109 while Bill Lerch saw it 120-108 for Crawford, who improved to 25-0 with 17 KOs. Sherdog scored it slightly closer at 118-110 for Terence, who said this was to be his last ever fight at lightweight.
“This is it,” he proclaimed to HBO’s Max Kellerman immediately following the bout. “Like Michael Jackson, this is it.”
Crawford was non-committal about as to with whom he’d like to lock horns at junior welterweight, saying that he leaves that up to his management to figure out. But with a plethora of sharks swimming around the crowded reef at 140 pounds, there clearly isn’t a shortage of fighters who would make magnificent opponents for a fighter who is among the elite of the elite in boxing.
Entertaining Gradovich-Velez Title Fight Ends in Draw
IBF featherweight champion Evgeny Gradovich was able to retain his title after battling Puerto Rican adversary Jayson Velez for 12 grueling rounds, though he didn’t win. In a thrilling fight that could have gone to either man, the three ringside judges couldn’t agree with the victor, thus the fight resulted in a somewhat disappointing draw.
The unbeaten Gradovich, who moved from Siberia, Russia, to Oxnard, Calif., forced Velez into a back-and-forth brawl. He worked his way inside repeatedly and dug vicious shots to both the head and body and rocked his foe a few times throughout the contest. However, Velez fought back every step of the way and gave as good as he received, going toe-to-toe whenever he needed to.
With neither of the two ever truly seizing control of the action -- and with both featherweight’s faces bested up -- virtually every round was as close as they come. In the end, one judge scored it 117-111 for Gradovich; the second had it 115-113 for Velez and the third official saw it even at 114 apiece. Sherdog scored it 116-112 for the Russian, who now stands at 19-0-1 with 9 KOs. For his efforts, Velez moves to 22-0-1 with 16 KOs.
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