By Jake Donovan
Terence Crawford hasn’t seen ring action since April, nor was the search particularly simple in landing a televised slot or an appropriate opponent.
Even with that in mind, the unbeaten fighting pride of Omaha didn’t so much as bat an eyelash when Dierry Jean (29-1, 20KOs) became the one boxer willing to accept assignment.
Such a fight comes with its benefits, but also a big risk fo the Haitian-Canadian. It meant moving back up in weight and traveling 1,300 air miles from Montreal to the hometown of one of the best in the game today. Jean brings a four-fight win streak into his second career title challenge, as they headline the latest installment of HBO’s World Championship Boxing series, live from CenturyLink Center (Saturday, 9:30 p.m. ET).
For the local favorite, it meant simply picking up where they last left off roughly one year ago.
“I wasn't surprised at all when (Jean) accepted the fight,” insists Crawford (26-0, 18KOs), who makes the first defense of his super lightweight title. “It’s a fight he wanted when we were both at lightweight. It’s a fight he was willing to take now that I’m at 140. Now he’s got it, so we’ll see what he can do with it.”
Few have been able to figure out what to do in the ring with Crawford, who is coming off of a career-best year. His 2014 campaign – for which he was recognized by several outlets as Fighter of the Year – began with a title-winning effort over Ricky Burns on the road in Scotland, followed by a pair of sold-out shows at home in Omaha.
Included among the homecoming performances was a thrilling 9th round knockout of previously unbeaten Yuriorkis Gamboa last June. The night served as the first ever HBO show to air live from Omaha, as well as the city’s first championship fight in more than 40 years.
A subsequent 12-round win over Raymundo Beltran last November was his last piece of business at lightweight before moving up in weight. Six days before receiving his Fighter of the Year award, Crawford emphatically announced his 140 lb. arrival in knocking out Thomas Dulorme in six rounds to win the vacant super lightweight title.
Showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon, the 28-year old now openly embraces the challenge of the one boxer these days eagerly willing to jump into the ring with him.
“The fact that he wants it makes me want it that much more,” Crawford says of the desire to win and look good doing so. “I had confidence in beating him at lightweight if we fought there. Now I’m up (at 140), I don’t have to cut muscle in order to make weight, I’m even stronger now.”
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox