Crawford: Obscure Opponent Gave Me Toughest Fight of Career

By Keith Idec

NEW YORK – Yes, Yuriorkis Gamboa was a difficult foe for Terence Crawford.

But there was an obscure opponent that gave Crawford just as much trouble, if not more, than Gamboa, and any of the additional 28 fighters Crawford has faced since he turned pro in March 2008.

“Well, it might sound crazy, but this guy named Angel Rios in New Jersey,” Crawford said during a press conference Thursday at Madison Square Garden. “I believe that was my hardest fight to date, him and Gamboa.”

crawford-gamboa (3)

The 29-year-old Crawford beat Rios rather easily, if you read the three scorecards submitted after their eight-round fight in Atlantic City. Crawford won 80-71, 80-72 and 80-72, which means none of the three judges scored a single round for Rios during a non-televised fight in September 2011 at Boardwalk Hall.

The veteran from the Bronx made Crawford earn everything during those eight rounds, though.

“It was just tough,” recalled Crawford, who was 14-0 when he faced Rios. “I was up and coming. He had a lot of experience. He was bigger than me, I was boxing him and I got cut in that fight. I experienced a lot of things I never experienced before in that fight, with illegal tactics and so forth. And Gamboa, everybody know that was a rough fight for me. But I overcame it and believe I really grew a lot in that fight.”

Crawford stopped Cuba’s Gamboa (26-2, 17 KOs) in the ninth round of their June 2014 fight in Omaha, Nebraska, Crawford’s hometown. The then-unbeaten Gamboa buzzed Crawford a couple times and out-boxed him early in their fight, but Crawford floored Gamboa four times before their entertaining WBO lightweight championship match was stopped at CenturyLink Center.

Rios, 36, hasn’t fought since October 2013 and presumably is retired. He lost the last 17 fights of his career and has a 9-19 record (6 KOs), but has been knocked out just once.

Rios was 9-6 entering his fight against Crawford (30-0, 21 KOs), who’ll defend his WBC and WBO super lightweight championships against the Dominican Republic’s Felix Diaz (19-1, 9 KOs) on Saturday night at the Garden (HBO; 10 p.m. ET/PT).

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Dle on 05-20-2017

If Gamboa hadn't joined 50cents he wouldn't have been put in that greedy position especially after such a long layoff. What a hard lesson he learned.

Comment by Hmabshir on 05-20-2017

If Gamboa was the same size as Bud he would have beaten him. Just moved up to a division he never fought in vs a guy who was the best at the division while being very short and at a…

Comment by HarvardBlue on 05-20-2017

It's a good thing when a fighter struggles early in their career. It can make them a better fighter but can also stall a promising career. I remember seeing Ward struggle in some of his earlier fights and thought he…

Comment by hitking on 05-20-2017

[QUOTE=Motorcity Cobra;17686219]Another good recent example is Harrison vs. Nelson. Harrison was dominating, winning easily. Nelson took him to deep waters and drowned him. Harrison seems like he didn't learn anything from that fight because the same thing happened with Hurd.…

Comment by Motorcity Cobra on 05-20-2017

[QUOTE=hitking;17686181]Boxing history is littered with great fighters that were unexpectedly tested by less than great fighters on their way up. That's why as annoying as it can be to watch blue chip prospects be fed opponents that probably aren't as…

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