Terence Crawford: Jose Benavidez Jr. doesn’t deserve title shot


By Jim Dower: WBO welterweight champion Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford admits that his opponent #14 WBO Jose Benavidez Jr. (27-0, 18 KOs) has done nothing to deserve a world title shot against him on Saturday night.

Crawford doesn’t care that Benavidez hasn’t done anything to deserve the title shot, he’s still ready to beat him and look great in doing so. Unfortunately for Crawford, he’s been facing a lot of guys lately that haven’t done anything to rate a title shot. It’s becoming routine for Crawford to fight guys that fit that arguably fit the description of the ‘bum of the month club.’ Crawford’s promoters haven’t put him in against the guys that the fans want to see him fight like Errol Spence Jr. and Keith Thurman.

Crawford and Benavidez will be fighting on ESPN+ at the CHI Health Center, in Omaha, Nebraska.

Saturday’s Crawford-Benavidez Jr. is seen as a mismatch by the fans, and one of the worst ones that Crawford has taken in a while. Benavidez has faced only one contender during his 8-year pro career in Mauricio Herrera in 2014, and he beat him by a controversial 12 round decision. Benavidez fought the entire 12 round fight with his back against the ropes, taking head shots from Herrera. That was the last time that Benavidez fought a world level opponent, and he’s looked a lot better against the journeyman and prospects that his management have matched him against in the last four years.

Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) have talked it up between them as if this is a huge fight, but unfortunately it’s failed to catch the attention of the boxing public until this week. The problem that Crawford has is he needs to be fighting better opposition than the 26-year-old Benavidez, Jeff Horn, Julius Indongo, John Molina and Felix Diaz Jr. type of fighters. Crawford needs the elite level guys, not the cellar dwellers like Benavidez, who is lucky to be even rated at #14 given his resume, which is filled with lackluster opposition.

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“No. Not at all. But that ain’t the point. The point is we’re here now, and we’re fighting on Saturday,” Crawford said about his opponent Benavidez.”Come Saturday, all the talking will be out the window.”

Crawford is in a tough situation in facing a guy like Benavidez, as it’s a no-win situation for him. If Crawford destroy the 6’2″ Benavidez, boxing fans will say, ‘So what? You beat a guy with an inflated record filled with nobodies. The only good Benavidez brother is WBC super middleweight champion David Benavidez, not Jose.’

If Crawford loses to struggles to defeat Benavidez on Saturday, the fans are going to say that he was never good in the first place and that he was matched weakly by his promoters at Top Rank against guys that weren’t the best in their weight classes. Unfortunately, that’s the perception that a lot of boxing fans already have about Crawford, because his best wins on his resume were against Ricky Burns, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Viktor Postol and Thomas Dulorme. None of those guys are among the elites in their respective divisions. Crawford never fought the likes of Mikey Garcia, Vasyl Lomachenko, Regis Prograis, Jose Ramirez, Errol Spence Jr., Josh Taylor, Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman or Shawn Porter.

Crawford, 31, says he’s not worried about never having fought the elites in the welterweight division. He thinks those fights will come to him eventually. The boxing public doesn’t want to see Crawford fighting guys like Jeff Horn and Jose Benavidez Jr. The fans want to see him face Errol Spence Jr., Thurman, Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, Regis Prograis, Jose Ramirez and Josh Taylor. Crawford is starting to get older, and the last 10 years of his career has flown by without him facing one highly talented popular fighter. Although Crawford says says he’s not worried about not having fought the talented guys, you have to be a tad bit worried, because he can’t afford to let another 10 years fly by without fighting the talented guys. In 10 years, Crawford will be washed up and yesterday’s news. He needs to start fighting the top guys now before his boxing skills erode. Crawford’s game is based on his hand speed and counter punching. When a fighter like that loses his hand speed, he’s easy pickings for the big power punchers like Spence.

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“I’m just gonna keep doing what I’ve been doing, and that’s winning the fights and looking spectacular each and every fight. Everything else will fall into place,” Crawford said.

Crawford might want to be a little more assertive with his own career and not assume that the big fights are going to just fall into his lap. The big fights haven’t happened so far, and it’s likely that will continue to be the case unless Crawford starts speaking up to try and shape his own destiny. He might need to be open to fighting on another network like Showtime or DAZN for him to get the fights that he wants. Whether Crawford’s promoters at Top Rank will allow him to fight on those networks remains to be seen. It’s highly unlikely unfortunately, meaning that we could see Crawford fighting guys like Benavidez and Horn two or three times in needless rematches.

“It’s part of the game, but I’m not worried about that. They do their thing, and I’ll do mine on Saturday,” Crawford said in commenting on about how the big fights will eventually drift his way one of these days.

Let’s hope that Crawford looks great against Benavidez on Saturday night because it’s a must in this case for him to look good against this level of opponent. Crawford is facing a bottom feeder level opponent in Benavidez, which means he needs to not mess around with the guy and let him hang around to stink up the joint. Crawford has to shine in knocking the guy out. Crawford should resist some of the bad habits he has such as fighting passively, switching stances needlessly over, sitting back and counter-punching. Crawford needs to come at Benavidez using a Gennady Golovkin style of fighting to bang him out of there.

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