FIGHT PREVIEW: Crawford v Jean

Terence Crawford (26-0, 18 KOs) is considered one of the ‘nice guys,’ in boxing. His reputation for being a genuine and honest individual has been built upon his charitable deeds outside of the ring.

On more than one occasion he has literally given the shirt off his back to someone. As an 18 year old amateur he gave away all his clothes to other less fortunate fighter while boxing for the US at a Pan American Games qualifying tournament. He has also taken part in aid missions to Uganda and Rwanda building homes for the survivors of the genocide. During both visits he gave his belongings away to the less fortunate. He opened a boxing academy in his native city of Omaha to help troubled young people, and has been active in local and national anti-bullying campaigns as well as devoting time, energy and money to many local charities.

Crawford is the antithesis of the stereotypical boxing champion, the surly, trash talkers whose number one priority is financial remuneration. His philanthropy is overwhelming but even those most affected by his generosity must realise that viewing the world in such black and white terms as ‘nice guys,’ and ‘bad guys,’ is foolish. It is when those black and white terms clash that people really get interesting.

Terence Crawford may have a charitable soul but it is housed in a heart of steel. In his younger days Crawford could be accused of mixing with the wrong crowd. In September 2008, he narrowly avoided a bullet to the head following his participation in a dice game in Omaha. The experience motivated Crawford to focus on becoming a champion in the pro ranks.

Initially campaigning as a lightweight, Crawford built an impressive record, including a dominate win over Breidis Prescott who UK fans will remember as the man who demolished Amir Khan in one round in September 2008. He then travelled to Scotland in March 2014 and relieved Ricky Burns of his WBO World Lightweight title via a unanimous point’s decision. In his first defence of that title, Crawford dropped his undefeated opponent, Yuriorkis Gamboa three times on route to a ninth round stoppage. Despite Gamboa having being inactive for over a year coming into the fight this remains an impressive win considering Gamboa’s pedigree as an Olympic Gold Medalist and as a former WBA and IBF World Featherweight champion.

The Gamboa bout was a fight of the year nominee and provides a showcase for Crawford’s talents. Versatility is arguably his greatest strength, he switches from orthodox to southpaw stance with ease and seemingly without any loss of his power or accuracy. He also possesses quick reflexes, great upper body movement and an excellent jab. He is in many ways a complete fighter.

Crawford announced his arrival in the Super-Lightweight (Light-Welterweight) division with a sixth round stoppage of Thomas Dulorme for the vacant WBO World Super Lightweight title.

He defends that title on Saturday night against former title challenger Dierry “All In,” Jean (29-1, 20 KOs) at the CenturyLink Centre, Omaha, Nebraska. Jean carries an impressive record on paper but his most significant opponent to date; Lamont Peterson was also the fighter who handed him his sole loss. Jean was dominated by Peterson in their fight for the IBF World Super Lightweight title. This will be expected to be another routine defence for Crawford.

Already considered by Ring Magazine as pound for pound one of the best fighters on the planet, the Super-Lightweight division provides him with enough opportunities to propel his name to the top of the list. It would be intriguing to see how Crawford would utilise his talents against the braggadocio Adrien Broner who currently holds the WBA title or the undefeated Viktor Postol who holds the WBC version. Not to mention potential match-ups against Lucas Matthysse, Ruslan Provodnikov or Cesar Cuenca. There are even rumours that Crawford could be named as Manny Pacquiao’s next opponent.

Many boxing insiders consider Crawford to be already a level above many of the aforementioned fighters. Ultimately time will tell if he gets the opportunity to prove that in the ring. Perhaps Terence Crawford may finally prove that nice guys can finish first. Just don’t mistake him for a soft touch either.

Crawford v Jean is live on BoxNation on Saturday 24th October from 1AM

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