By Keith Idec
OMAHA, Nebraska – Terence Crawford knows what his detractors will state and write now that he has stopped Jose Benavidez Jr.
The unbeaten WBO welterweight champion expects them to degrade Benavidez, who was competitive with Crawford for five rounds before Crawford took control and beat him by 12th-round technical knockout Saturday night at CHI Health Center.
The three-division champion has grown used to such criticism during his ascent toward the top of pound-for-pound lists.
The Omaha native knows he won’t be able to sway some skeptics until he defeats a fellow welterweight champion – either Errol Spence Jr. (IBF), Shawn Porter (WBC) or Keith Thurman (WBA). But until he is able to land one of those title unification fights, Crawford feels he won’t receive the proper respect for his victories.
“It can be frustrating at times because I feel like I don’t get the credit I deserve,” Crawford said after beating Benavidez. “So I get a little frustrated. But at the same time, like you said, it’s out of my hands. I can’t do nothing about it, but continue to do what I do inside the ring.”
By defeating Benavidez, Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) made the first defense of the WBO 147-pound championship he won from Jeff Horn on June 9 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Crawford was a 10-1 favorite over Australia’s Horn (18-1-1, 12 KOs), but an even heavier favorite, 25-1, against the previously unbeaten Benavidez.
At 6-feet, Benavidez is bigger than the 5-feet-8 Crawford and, at 26, younger than the 31-year-old champion. That didn’t stop Crawford from picking apart Benavidez throughout the second half of their scheduled 12-rounder.
Crawford battered Benavidez to the body, slowed down his game challenger and dropped him with a crushing right uppercut with under a minute remaining in their fight. Benavidez got up, but Crawford pounced on him, hurt Benavidez again with a right hook and their ESPN main event was stopped with 18 seconds left in it.
Benavidez (27-1, 18 KOs) fought for just the third time since resuming his career earlier this year following an 18-month layoff. He suffered a career-threatening injury to his right leg when an unknown assailant shot Benavidez in an August 2016 incident in his native Phoenix.
“They gonna say, ‘Oh, Benavidez wasn’t nobody. He didn’t beat nobody. He had a messed-up leg,’ ” Crawford said. “They gonna bring up so much to say about him to discredit me from doing what I did, just like he discredited me for fighting Jeff Horn.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.