Before nearly every one of his fights, Terence “Bud” Crawford is asked the same question.
“Is (your upcoming opponent) going to be the best fighter you’ve faced so far?”
Crawford gives an identical answer every time, saying he won’t know until after the bout.
Amir Khan, his latest challenger, had the credentials and offensive skills to give the unbeaten WBO welterweight champion his toughest test to date. But, as usual, Crawford turned it into a mismatch.
Before a crowd of 14,091 at Madison Square Garden, and a yet-to-be-announced television audience from Top Rank’s first pay-per-view venture with ESPN, he dropped the British star late in the first round.
The unbeaten three-division champ from Omaha (35-0, 26 knockouts) improved to 13-0 with 10 KOs in world title fights when Khan’s corner ended the contest after an unintentional low blow in the sixth.
Crawford has stopped nine of his past 10 foes, including six straight. Considered one of the top fighters in the world, regardless of weight class, he has been as dominant as any champion in the sport in awhile.
The win over Khan, a known commodity in the boxing since the 2004 Olympics, put a big name on the ever-growing victim list of the champion and gave Crawford one of the biggest wins of his career.
Crawford still has big fights looming in his future, but the list of his best victories is already impressive.
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Bud’s top five wins
UD12 Ricky Burns March 1, 2014, in Glasgow, Scotland
It’s proven to be nearly impossible for American fighters to win a world championship by decision overseas, but Crawford wouldn’t be denied in his first world title bout. He easily outdistanced longtime beltholder Burns, Scotland’s only three-division titlist, to become Omaha’s first world boxing champion. Winning a world title was always Crawford’s goal, and he may rank this as his most important victory because of that. The win over Burns, for the WBO lightweight title, started an impressive three-bout run for Crawford in 2014 that earned him Fighter of the Year honors — the sport’s highest annual award.
UD12 Viktor Postol July 23, 2016, in Las Vegas
After becoming the lineal champion at 135 pounds with a win over Ray Beltran in late 2014, Crawford moved up to 140 to become the WBO junior welterweight titlist by stopping Thomas Dulorme in 2015. That set up an eventual showdown with WBC beltholder Postal in a 1-vs.-2 unification the next summer. Headlining a pay-per-view event for the first time in his career, Crawford dominated the previously unbeaten Postol in a one-sided decision. He dropped Postol twice in the fifth round and cruised to a victory in his last bout that went the distance. Crawford has recorded six consecutive knockouts since.
KO3 Julius Indongo August 19, 2017, in Lincoln
Historically, this is Crawford’s most significant win to date. He and Indongo were both unified 140-pound champions when they met for the division’s undisputed crown at Pinnacle Bank Arena. A crowd of 12,121 watched Crawford end it abruptly with a third-round body shot that sent Indongo down for the count. Crawford became only the third fighter in boxing’s four-belt era — joining former middleweight champions Bernard Hopkins and Jermain Taylor — to hold all of the titles in a weight class simultaneously. He didn’t keep them long, vacating all four to pursue a championship in a third division at welterweight.
TKO6 Amir Khan April 20, 2019, in New York
It had all the ingredients to be Crawford’s best win to date, with the exception of a proper finish. Khan’s corner asked for the fight to be stopped after its boxer, dominated through five rounds, was hit by a low blow in the sixth. The result was a technical knockout, but Crawford didn’t get it the way he’d have wanted. Khan, a former Olympic silver medalist and unified 140-pound champ, had been knocked out in bouts before. But he’d never been manhandled like this. Crawford scored a first-round knockdown and may have ended the fight if the bell hadn’t rung. The win, on ESPN pay-per-view, was still a huge one.
TKO9 Yuriorkis Gamboa June 28, 2014, in Omaha
This one is going to be tough to top, although the Khan fight had a chance with more than 14,000 people at Madison Square Garden. The unbeaten Gamboa, a former Olympic gold medalist and unified world champ, was a tough assignment for the newly crowned Crawford in his first professional bout in Omaha. But Crawford became a bona fide star with a sensational performance, dropping Gamboa four times in an edge-of-your-seat thriller that ended with a spectacular ninth-round TKO. In the first world title fight in the city in 42 years, Crawford delivered a significant victory that still ranks as the top one of his career.