The tension was already in the air when Terence “Bud” Crawford arrived at B&B Boxing Academy.
It nearly boiled over after the WBO welterweight champion from Omaha stepped ringside Wednesday as Jose Benavidez Jr. wrapped up his training session at a media event.
“I’m going to beat his ass,” Crawford said to a reporter, then repeated the comment to the challenger from Phoenix. The remark sparked a verbal exchange that nearly brought on a physical confrontation.
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An angry Crawford was pulled from behind by one of his coaches, Jacqui “Red” Spikes, as he attempted to climb up onto the ring apron to get at Benavidez after the challenger approached him in that corner.
The tension in the gym didn’t ease until the Benavidez team left the building.
The scene made for an intriguing start to a week that ends with Crawford and Benavidez meeting for the WBO belt Saturday at CHI Health Center. The fight is the main event of a nine-bout card presented by Top Rank that also features Olympians Shakur Stevenson and Mikaela Mayer.
Hostility between camps often precedes big events. Sometimes, it is manufactured to bring attention to the fight. That’s not the case with Saturday’s bout, Crawford said.
“It’s been real since Day 1, since the fight’s been announced,” he said. “It ain’t been nothing but real.”
Crawford and Benavidez got into a heated verbal exchange in Corpus Christi, Texas, earlier this year. But the champion from Omaha wasn’t at his gym Wednesday when the reciprocal barking first started.
The media event was scheduled in a way to keep the two camps away from each other. Benavidez was to arrive an hour before Crawford and be gone before the Crawford camp arrived.
But Brian “BoMac” McIntyre, Crawford’s head trainer and manager, was standing ringside as Benavidez was beginning his workout . He traded profanity-laced shouts with the challenger’s team.
Jose Benavidez Sr., who trains his unbeaten son, told McIntyre to get out of the gym.
“I’m not moving (expletive) nowhere,” he said. “I’m staying right here. Get your (expletive) work done.”
Benavidez Jr. turned McIntyre’s way and made a throat-slashing gesture.
“You’re going to get your ass whooped,” McIntyre shouted. “I promise you that.”
The challenger goaded on the champion’s trainer by saying all that is Crawford’s would soon be his.
“You ain’t going to do (expletive),” McIntyre yelled. “You’re going to get knocked the (expletive) out.”
The exchange took place not long before Crawford arrived. Then the two sides went at it again.
“I’m just going to go out there and shut him up,” Crawford said later. “That’s it. That’s all.”
The two camps will meet again Thursday at the arena’s convention center for the final press conference before the title bout. The nationally televised weigh-in will take place Friday afternoon.
More of the same is expected at both events. Neither side, it seems, will be at a loss for words.
The buildup could make for an explosive fight this weekend.
“Come Saturday, all the talk is going to be out the window,” Crawford said.