Since becoming a world champion in 2014, Terence “Bud” Crawford has been fighting at an elite level that few in boxing ever reach. Unbeaten titlists and solid challengers have barely tested the Omahan.
Top Rank President Todd duBoef, whose company promotes the WBO welterweight champ, dropped a college football reference when discussing Crawford’s ring superiority during a conference call last week.
“When Terence Crawford gets in the ring, it’s like Alabama in football,” he said. “He is that dominant.”
A mid-1990s Nebraska football comparison may have been more applicable locally, but duBoef’s remark resonated nonetheless. Crawford has been at the top of his game and hasn’t been truly pushed to date.
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The three-division champion (33-0, 24 knockouts) is an overwhelming favorite for his first welterweight title defense, which comes against Jose Benavidez Jr. (27-0, 18 KOs) Saturday at the CHI Health Center.
Crawford enters his 12th championship bout ranked first or second on nearly every pound-for-pound list. He and lightweight champ Vasyl Lomachenko share the honors as the top fighters in the world.
“Some people rate me No. 1, some people rate me 2,” Crawford said on Thursday. “I can’t complain. I’m in the top two and almost everybody is rating me. I’m just blessed to be in the top two.”
Crawford’s consistent dominance is what has gotten him to that lofty position. He’s knocked out eight of the 10 opponents he’s faced since winning his first world title. And the two fighters who lasted all 12 rounds with the Omahan — Ray Beltran and Viktor Postol — were nearly shut out on judges’ scorecards.
Challengers not only have trouble staying competitive in bouts with Crawford, they have a hard time winning single rounds against him. By the midpoint of his fights, the final outcome is all but inevitable.
Crawford had won every round of his welterweight debut against previously unbeaten Jeff Horn before eventually stopping the then-champion in the ninth round of their title fight in Las Vegas in June. The Australian boxer, who had taken the title from Manny Pacquiao, had only fleeting moments of success.
That’s pretty much how all of Crawford’s foes have fared. Only Yuriorkis Gamboa and Thomas Dulorme remained relatively competitive with him early. Both fighters finished the night as knockout victims.
Crawford steamrolled through the junior welterweight division after stopping Dulorme, successfully unifying the division before vacating the four titles to move up to boxing’s deepest weight class. Truly big fights may be waiting on the horizon for the WBO champion if he continues the path that he’s on.
To get them, Crawford needs to solidify his status as one of the top fighters in the sport. He hasn’t overlooked any opponent in the past. And he’s said he’s not thinking beyond his talkative foe Saturday.
“My main focus is on Benavidez,” he said. “He’s been doing a lot of talking. But while he’s talking, I’m working. I’m not worried about nothing that he’s saying. ... I’m focused and I’m ready to go next week.”
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Boxing has been a lifelong passion for Terence "Bud" Crawford, shown here in 1998 or '99 at age 11 at the C.W. Boxing Club in Omaha.
By 2005, Terence "Bud" Crawford was one of the nation's top amateur boxers in his weight class.
Terence "Bud" Crawford celebrates his victory over Carlos Molina at the 2006 Golden Gloves tournament. Crawford went on to fall in the national championship bout.
One of Terence "Bud" Crawford's first notable professional fights came in March 2013 against Breidis Prescott. Crawford won by unanimous decision.
In June 2013, Terence "Bud" Crawford won the NABO lightweight title with a technical knockout victory over Alejandro Sanabria of Mexico in a fight held at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
Terence "Bud" Crawford added another belt to his list when he traveled to Scotland in March 2014 for a bout against Ricky Burns, taking home the WBO lightweight title.
Terence "Bud" Crawford received a hero's welcome when he returned to Eppley Airfield from Scotland after winning the WBO lightweight title.
Fighting for the first time as a professional in Omaha, Terence "Bud" Crawford defended his WBO lightweight title with a technical knockout victory over Yuriorkis Gamboa at the CenturyLink Center in June 2014.
Terence "Bud" Crawford's first professional fight in Omaha drew a crowd of nearly 11,000 people to the CenturyLink Center.
Terence "Bud" Crawford again defended his title at the CenturyLink Center in November 2014 with a 12-round unanimous decision over Ray Beltran. It was Crawford's last fight as a lightweight.
Terence "Bud" Crawford made his debut as a junior welterweight in April 2015, winning the vacant WBO title with a technical knockout victory over Thomas Dulorme in Arlington, Texas.
Terence "Bud" Crawford received the Sugar Ray Robinson Memorial Fighter of the Year Award during a ceremony in New York City in April 2015.
Terence "Bud" Crawford's sons — Tyrese, left, then age 2, and Terence III, right, then age 4 — carry their father's title belts during the Native Omaha Days parade in August 2015.
Terence "Bud" Crawford knocked out Dierry Jean at the CenturyLink Center in October 2015 to retain his junior welterweight title.
Terence "Bud" Crawford has represented both Nebraska and Creighton in the ring, often wearing gear from one of the schools before and after fights. He was honored on the field at Memorial Stadium during Nebraska's game against Iowa in November 2015.
This award-winning photo of Terence "Bud" Crawford was taken in February 2016 as the champ trained in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for his upcoming fight against Hank Lundy.
Terence "Bud" Crawford once again defended his junior welterweight title in February 2016 with a technical knockout over Hank Lundy in front of a sellout crowd at the Theater of Madison Square Garden.
Terence "Bud" Crawford added another honor to his impressive résumé in July 2016 when he collected the WBC super lightweight title and the 140-pound lineal crown to go with his WBO junior welterweight championship after winning a unanimous decision over Viktor Postol at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Terence "Bud" Crawford dominated John Molina Jr. in December 2016 at the CenturyLink Center, winning every round on each judge's scorecard before earning a technical knockout victory in the eighth round.
Terence "Bud" Crawford's next title defense took place in the main arena at Madison Square Garden on May 20 against Felix Diaz. "This is where all of the great champions fought, and I want to be a big part of it," he said at a press conference announcing the fight.
Terence "Bud" Crawford, sporting Omaha shorts, lands a punch on Felix Diaz at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, May 20, 2017. Crawford won after the fight was stopped after the 10th round.
Terence Crawford celebrates his third-round knockout win over Julius Indongo at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Saturday, August 19, 2017. The victory made Crawford boxing's only undisputed champion.
Terence "Bud" Crawford knocked out Australian Jeff Horn in the ninth round on June 9, 2018. It was Crawford's first fight in the welterweight division and earned him the WBO title.
Terence "Bud" Crawford scored a knockout win in the 12th round against Jose Benavidez. The event in Omaha drew 13,323 fans and was Crawford's first defense of his WBO welterweight title.
Terence "Bud" Crawford defeated Amir Khan on April 21, 2019, in Madison Square Garden. More than 14,000 fans saw the champ retain his WBO welterweight title.