By Tré Berry III🖊️
The main event was an interesting bout, and had a couple of intriguing moments attached to it, but at the end of the day, the typical 🇺🇸Terence “Bud” Crawford (36-0-0, 27KO👊) type of finish came about as he was able to figure out, and get to undefeated game mandatory challenger 🇱🇹Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-1-1, 17KO👊) running through him late with the power to put him down, then iced him with a single right hand to end the night off to make the 3rd defense of his WBO Title, and to win his 14th consecutive World Title fight in a row.
When you’re viewing a Terence Crawford fight, you never know what to expect because he’s a switch-hitter, and he has so many different facets of his arsenal that he can pull out in accordance to the opponent, and what Terence himself feels like doing. His Head-Trainer 🗣️Brian McIntyre (better known as Bo-Mac) decided to advise his fighter to box Kavaliauskas as a southpaw exclusively through the first half of the fight, which was an interesting choice to make. Terence was a little thrown off by Egidijus awkward even-fisted approach that was difficult for “Bud” to key in on early. Kavaliauskas stayed true to his plans as he revealed in the lead-up to the fight that he and his team planned to box with Crawford instead of out-right rushing him, so Egidijus utilized a lot of feints, counter-punching, and subtle unorthodox moves to keep Crawford guessing.
In the middle of the third round, the Mean Machine landed a flush power right hand that hurt Crawford, and Egidijus swung away on the inside, to where Crawford’s knee hit the deck for what should have been ruled a knockdown, however Referee Ricky Gonzalez missed the call and somehow ruled it a slip of some sort. If ruled correctly, this would’ve been officially the first time that Crawford would have hit the deck in his career. It would’ve been a knockdown of flash variety, as the hurt didn’t linger at all – evidenced by Crawford getting right back to work with no changes in his pattern, but still as a fighter such as Kavaliauskas, it would be reassuring for you to get the points that you feel like you deserve to get in the moment, and in some instances, a botched call forces a different game plan to be followed. Crawford’s mental focus 📈skyrocketed after the moment, and looked to find ways to slowly, systematically break Mean Machine. While Crawford was putting those pieces together, Kavaliauskas landed some pretty good left hand counter jabs and hooks over the top in the middle rounds to keep him within the fray of the fight.
Crawford the more the fight went on put the mental pressure on, ⛏️picking away at Kavaliauskas, doing so with the dead-pan blank stare that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from the American. By the 5th round, Bud relied on what he does better than anybody in boxing today, and that’s dissecting his opponent with his counter-punching, with both fists. In the middle of the 7th, Crawford finally turned orthodox and pressed the action looking for something, landing many combinations of note. Mean Machine landed an impressive cross, but it was followed up by an overhand cross from Crawford to chop him down to the deck. The Mean Machine got up, but the 🔩bolts started to unscrew from this point on. Crawford tried to end it in the 7th, but the Lithuanian fighter got to the bell. Crawford fought the rest of the way switching up his stances, adding to the confusion that Kavaliauskas was experiencing at that particular time, and Bud managed to land a beautiful double uppercut in the 8th round.
The 9th round, Crawford immediately started at a feverish pace, throwing every punch in the book. He landed a big left hook to wobble Kavaliauskas, then knocked him down once again, this time with a nasty uppercut. Egidijus got up disoriented, but was deemed fit to continue. Crawford waltzed his way across the ring, only to 💣bomb the Kavaliauskas with a sick overhand right that malfunctioned the Mean Machine, to where the Referee immediately called a stop to the bout, resulting in a 9th round TKO for the switch-hitting WBO Champion from Omaha, Nebraska, USA.
WHAT IS NEXT FOR CRAWFORD? The general consensus by those who follow boxing is that “Bud” Crawford may essentially be stuck at this point when it comes to available suitable options due to the 🌉broken bridge between PBC and Top-Rank representatives. Without putting the blame on any organization, we will instead take a deep look to find other viable opponents who are worthy of a shot at Crawford, and who could be deemed good enough to keep him happy as a fighter who is eager to seek out challenges. First and foremost, we would have to take a look at the Welterweight division, and run down the WBO organization and its list of world contenders (Terence Crawford has the WBO belt). One name that immediately jumps out as a very suitable and quality opponent is former 2-division Titlist 🇺🇸Jessie Vargas, who at this present time sits as the #2 contender in the WBO ranking system. That would be a good enough opponent to A) Keep Crawford interested and B) Please the masses who want to see the P4P great in with some good boxers at this stage. You also have a young generational level talent in 🇺🇸Vergil Ortiz Jr., who just made waves with his performance on Thursday, and was ranked #5 by the WBO coming into his contest a day ago. While it may seem too soon to throw him out there for Crawford immediately to follow, Vergil has the type of skill and moxy at a young age where 3 fights down the line, something could definitely be cooked up in order to get these two in a ring, and that would be one fight to look forward to. There is always hope for Crawford to secure a unification match with boxing legend and WBA Champion 🇵🇭Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao. The initial thought that would come to mind in regards to that is “wait a minute, isn’t Pacquiao part of PBC now?” Yes he is – however Pacquiao’s stature has transcended any set in stone narrative, and at this juncture of his career can do whatever he pleases to do – plus has his own business dealings that he could lean on, so if he’s open to making the fight happen, it will ultimately get done, and Crawford would be more than open to taking that opportunity up to fight a legend who still has some juice left in his 40 year old frame (The Pacman turns 41 in 2 days).
Now for Crawford to find his best competition, he would have to look at the Super-Lightweight/Junior-Welterweight division, a division that Crawford vacated 2 years ago after knocking out Namibia’s 🇳🇦Julius Indongo to unify all 5 Titles en route to becoming 👑Undisputed World Champion. The available options at the weight class you could classify as being huge for the 140 lb. division in a multitude of different ways, so for each, a step up to 147 for a mega-showdown with Crawford would not put them at a disadvantage, nor would people view Bud as someone looking to pick on smaller guys. The first option I’m going to roll out is former WBA Junior-Welterweight Titlist 👹🇺🇸Regis “Rougarou” Prograis. Him and Crawford have had a subtle feud for a while, and Prograis is coming off of a great performance in the WBSS Finals, even though he didn’t come home to Louisiana with the trophy – the point being that Prograis had proven himself at the top level big time in that tournament finale, which would be something for Crawford to take serious note of. Prograis also has been having trouble making weight at 140, and is very stocky, with serious power at his disposal, so a 147 trip would make sense if they’re both looking to turn this into a rivalry with a tangible fight to put on the record.
A relatively easy match-up to make is with Unified WBC/WBO Junior-Welterweight Titlist 🇺🇸Jose Carlos Ramirez, the reason being is that Ramirez is also under Top-Rank. Ramirez is 5-10 (2 inches taller than Crawford) and could certainly step up for a one-off fight at Welterweight to try to take his career to the next stratosphere. Another potential match for Crawford could very well be with RING/WBA/IBF Junior-Welterweight Champion of the World ♛🏴Josh “Tartan Tornado” Taylor with serious P4P aspirations on the part of Taylor who is already trending upwards heavily after winning the World Boxing Super Series Trophy. Taylor is a giant at 5’11, and would be deemed huge at 147 with the way he would fill out in mass, while still possessing his natural skills, more than enticing for Crawford to take up if that option were to ever become available.
Now I’ve heard Crawford this week state that he would look at the Middleweight division if he cannot get any of the fights that he seeks. I understand why he would look at those prospects considering the roll-out of high level options to take, but that is an incredibly risky move, and would compromise his skill due to the weight class being too heavy for what his typical walk-around weight is. Between fights, he runs around ⚖️170 lbs, and on fight night, he re-hydrates to about 161 lbs, so with that said, and considering that he’s still able to come in very lean at 147, he could definitely make the Super-Welterweight division instead and keep his arsenal in tact without slowing him down. At 154 for the most part he would run into the same problems as Welterweight due to much of the competition at Super-Welterweight being with PBC (which is why he is looking at Middleweight in the first place), but there’s one option now that he could entertain that could possibly make him a 4-division Champion. That fight would be against newly elevated WBO Titlist 🇧🇷Patrick Teixeira, who just last week scored a very impressive win over 🇩🇴Carlos Adames to give him his first professional loss. Those are 7 very solid options I would say that Crawford can target and fight as he and his team try to find ways around what is standing in their way towards fighting the other talent that occupies the Welterweight division, so there is still wiggle room for Crawford to get some quality match-ups going with decent paydays in the foreseeable future.