By Keith Idec
OMAHA, Nebraska – By inciting Terence Crawford to throw a punch at him after they weighed in Friday, Jose Benavidez Jr. senses he has an advantage over Crawford entering their fight Saturday night.
“I’m in his head,” Crawford told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna after the incident at CHI Health Center. “I’m in his head. And I hope he swings faster than what he swung today, because I seen that punch coming a mile away. And I hope he puts more power into that, too, because that was a bitch punch he threw.”
Crawford threw a right hook that missed Benavidez, who moved backward on the stage. Benavidez pushed Crawford first, though, as they came face-to-face.
“They’ve been telling me to be cool all week,” Crawford said. “I’ve been cool and I’ve been keeping it professional. And he pushed me.”
Security personnel and employees for promoter Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. quickly got between Crawford and Benavidez. Both boxers were ushered off the stage and headed in different directions before the situation worsened.
Benavidez and Crawford each assured Osuna that Friday’s fracas doesn’t mean they’ll perform more emotionally than usual when they square off for Crawford’s WBO welterweight title (ESPN; 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT).
“I’m cool,” Crawford said. “I just can’t wait to fight tomorrow.”
Brian Dunn, deputy commissioner for the Nebraska Athletic Commission, said following Friday’s incident that Crawford and Benavidez could be fined from their purses. According to contracts submitted with the Nebraska commission, Crawford will earn $2 million and Benavidez will make $450,000.
The 31-year-old Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) is listed by most Internet sports books as at least a 25-1 favorite over the unbeaten Benavidez. Phoenix’s Benavidez (27-0, 18 KOs) contends he’ll prove the three-division champion is overrated by pulling off what would be boxing’s biggest upset of 2018 in Crawford’s hometown.
“I’m ready for anything that comes my way,” Benavidez said. “I’m ready. I’m not gonna let their team get in my head, you know? I’ve got a game plan. I know what I’m gonna do and I’m gonna take him out tomorrow.”
The 26-year-old Benavidez reiterated that he doesn’t consider Crawford the elite fighter the Omaha native is commonly considered.
“I don’t see anything special in him,” Benavidez said. “It’s not overconfidence. You know, I have confidence in myself and I’m gonna do what I have to do tomorrow and I’m gonna be victorious tomorrow.”
Crawford promised that Benavidez will leave the ring Saturday night more impressed by him than when he enters it.
“They all say that,” Crawford said. “They all say that until they step foot in the ring with me.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.