By Keith Idec
OMAHA, Nebraska – Jose Benavidez Jr. walked away from his faceoff with Terence Crawford on Thursday feeling as though he has an advantage over the defending champion.
The undefeated Crawford is consistently listed as a 25-1 favorite against the unbeaten Benavidez. The confident challenger is certain, though, that Crawford realizes he is in for a much more difficult fight than that when they meet Saturday night at CHI Health Center in Crawford’s hometown.
“I feel like he’s a little worried, to be honest with you,” Benavidez said following a press conference Thursday at CHI Health Center. “I feel like he’s a little worried because, I mean, I have power, I have speed, I have the height on him. So he should be worried because I’m gonna come take that belt from him. He better be ready.”
The 26-year-old Benavidez (27-0, 18 KOs), who stands 6-feet tall, was noticeably bigger than the 5-feet-8 Crawford when they stood face-to-face Thursday. Crawford clearly has the much bigger reputation.
The 31-year-old Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) has won world titles in three weight classes. He is generally regarded as one of the top two boxers, pound-for-pound, in the sport, too.
A disbelieving Benavidez considers Crawford overrated because he doesn’t think the WBO welterweight champion has beaten a high caliber of opposition.
“He hasn’t faced anyone who has a good resume or has a bad-ass resume,” Benavidez said. “To me, I’m probably the best fighter he’s gonna face, and I’m gonna beat him. He’s gonna lose. There’s no way in hell he’s gonna beat me. I’m the bigger guy, I’m the stronger guy, I have longer arms, I’m faster, I’m younger, I’m hungrier. He can say what he wants to say, but honestly, I see fear in his eyes. That’s what I see. … I’m the bigger guy and I’m gonna break him down and I’m gonna take him to deep waters that he’ll wish he’s never been in.”
The 12-round, 147-pound title bout between Crawford and Benavidez will headline ESPN’s multi-bout broadcast Saturday night. The telecast, scheduled to start at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT, also will include a 10-rounder that’ll pit featherweight prospect Shakur Stevenson (8-0, 4 KOs), a 2016 Olympic silver medalist from Newark, New Jersey, against Romania’s Viorel Simion (21-2, 9 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.