NEW YORK – Terence Crawford was as defiant in answering questions about the right hand Egidjius Kavaliauskas landed during the third round Saturday night as he was in responding to that punch inside the ring.
The WBO welterweight champion interrupted a reporter during a post-fight press conference before a question could even be completed regarding the impactful punch Kavaliauskas unloaded just before the midway mark of that round.
“I was not hurt,” Crawford said. “I did not fall from a punch.”
Kavaliauskas landed a straight right hand with 1:35 to go in the third round that made Crawford lean forward and grab Kavaliauskas around the waist. Crawford went to the canvas two seconds later, but referee Ricky Gonzalez ruled that Crawford didn’t go down as the result of Kavaliauskas’ punch.
Kavaliauskas and Crawford were wrestling for position as Crawford tried to hold him. Kavaliauskas tried to throw punches to free himself from Crawford, whose left knee touched the canvas as a result of that entanglement.
The 32-year-old Crawford hasn’t officially been knocked down during his 11-year, 37-fight professional career.
When Kavaliauskas connected with that aforementioned shot, though, it was the most noticeable instance of an opponent affecting Crawford with a punch since Yuriorkis Gamboa buzzed Crawford in the ninth round of their fight five years ago. Gamboa’s right hand made Crawford stumble 42 seconds into the ninth round of that June 2014 bout.
Much like Saturday night, Crawford came back, beat up Gamboa and dropped him twice more in the ninth round. Their WBO lightweight title fight was stopped with seven seconds to go in the ninth round in Omaha, Nebraska, Crawford’s hometown.
Crawford scored four knockdowns altogether in his victory over the then-unbeaten Gamboa.
Lithuania’s Kavaliauskas (21-1-1, 17 KOs) hit Crawford more than in any other Crawford fight CompuBox has tracked (118-of-391 overall, only 10 fewer than the 128-of-382 Crawford landed). The trouble he had with Kavaliauskas at times only seemed to anger and motivate Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs), who knocked down Kavaliauskas once in the seventh round and twice in the ninth.
Gonzalez stopped their scheduled 12-round, 147-pound championship bout 44 seconds into the ninth round.
“Well, as you see, as soon as I got up, I stepped right to him,” Crawford said of the third round. “You know, it’s simple.”
Crawford conceded at least that Kavaliauskas can punch.
“He was strong,” Crawford said. “[How] strong of a puncher? You know, he had some pop in his punches.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.