By Keith Idec
OMAHA, Nebraska – What impressed Bob Arum most about Terence Crawford’s performance Saturday night was that Crawford wasn’t content to beat Jose Benavidez Jr. on points.
An aggressive Crawford finished Benavidez late in the 12th round, even though the unbeaten WBO welterweight champion knew he was comfortably in front on the scorecards.
Crawford cracked Benavidez with a right uppercut that sent Benavidez to the canvas with just under 50 seconds remaining in their 12-round, 147-pound championship match.
Benavidez reached his feet, only to have Crawford attack him and hurt him again with a right hook. Referee Celestino Ruiz stepped in to stop their fight at 2:42 of the 12th round, with a battered Benavidez against the ropes.
“It was tremendous,” said Arum, Crawford’s promoter. “Let’s be honest about it – most fighters today in that position, having clearly won the fight, would back off in the 12th round, not take any chances and run out the clock. It’s like equivalent to taking a knee. Not him. He’s a performer. He wanted to close the show and that’s what he did, and that makes him special. It really does. Look what we have, other fighters today, that is not the mindset that most of them have.”
The 31-year-old Crawford (35-0, 24 KOs) was ahead 110-99, 108-101 and 107-102 on the scorecards when he dropped and stopped Phoenix’s Benavidez (27-1, 18 KOs). That sent Crawford’s hometown crowd of 13,323 into a frenzy at CHI Health Center.
“That’s the kind of person he is,” Arum said. “He’s a showman. He wants to close the show. He wants to make a statement. I just think – I mean, we know he’s a brilliant fighter. But the fact that he’s so crowd-pleasing makes him special. And really, in next year, when there’ll be a time when he moves into the pay-per-view arena really seriously, people will remember that.
“They’ll wanna see him fight because he’s so entertaining. And he’s not gonna – again, when you look at Floyd Mayweather, tremendous fighter. Ask yourself honestly, if Mayweather [were] going into the 12th round of this fight, would he have done anything like that or tried to?”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.