By Andreas Hale
Terence Crawford is wired differently than most fighters. It’s the reason that he’s widely recognized as one of the top three pound for pound fighters in the world and is one of the most entertaining fighters to watch.
What makes him different, you ask?
An interview with ESPN gave a hint.
"Bud's a kind dude," Brian McIntyre, his longtime trainer said in a recent interview. "But he be wanting to hurt [people].”
It’s what separates him from other fighters. The nasty streak. He doesn’t fight to win, he fights to destroy. But it’s not like Mike Tyson where there was only one gear, Crawford is a different breed of fighter. His technique is pristine with the ability to switch stances and become a totally different fighter with a whole different tool box that can be emptied. But there are these moments when you watch him and he appears to want to drag a fight out until it is time to mercifully end it.
Depending on who he’s fighting and how it’s playing out, Crawford will do subtle things like hold back on a combination or feint just to see how shook his opponent is. It’s a mental assault on the senses. Once he knows he can hurt you, it’s a guessing game as to when he’ll allow you to go home. Julius Indongo was thought to be durable, Bud caught wind of that and didn’t say much leading up to the fight. But when the bell rang, he knew what he had in front of him. Obviously, fighters don’t get paid for overtime so the product of Nebraska dug a left hook into Indongo’s body in the third round. Indongo took a knee and decided that enough was enough.
But then there’s Felix Diaz, who was thought to put up some kind of challenge. But about a round or two into the fight it was painfully evident that Diaz had nothing for the unified light welterweight champion. But instead of putting the fight to rest early, Crawford proceeded to torment and torture his opponent for the next ten rounds until Joel Diaz had to wave the white flag to rescue his fighter from further punishment.
Either way, Bud was going to hurt somebody.
It’s what makes Crawford a frightening opponent. Even though he was the world champion, Crawford always fought like he had something to prove. Unlike other champions, he didn’t defend titles. What does that mean? Well, some champions alter their mindset in fights to do just enough to win and keep their titles away from the opponent. The killer instinct and need to impress is no longer present. Rather than seek and destroy, these fighters count the rounds they win and do just enough to get by.
Keith Thurman is one of those fighters. Once upon a time, Keith Thurman was all about “KOs for life” on his way to the top. Obviously, as you move up in the rankings, the opponents aren’t a bunch of cans who will get blown over. However, if you watch Thurman’s last fight against Danny Garcia, you see a fighter who did the math, thought he was ahead and proceeded to nearly give the fight back to his Puerto Rican opponent. But you get the feeling during that fight that Thurman could have pressed the action and broke Garcia down. It’s not necessarily a slight because there comes a time in your career where it’s really about winning however you can.
But for Crawford, he’s not here to defend. He’s here to fight like he’s got a chip on his shoulder. Even if he thinks he’s ahead, he wants to end his opponent and leave them with a beating that they’ll remember years after their boxing career is in the rearview mirror. He likes to punish his opponents for their transgressions leading up to the fight.
All week, Crawford has been asked questions about Jeff Horn’s trash talk. Rather than become an active participant in barb throwing, Crawford keep his answers short. But then there would always be something that he’d say to remind everyone that he knows.
“He might get hurt,” Crawford said when discussing Horn’s style. He let those words linger. He meant it. If Horn decides to get physical, Crawford has decided that he’ll need to hurt him. He’s not sadistic, but he takes pride in the ability to dominate his opponents. Jeff Horn is no different. It’s also important to note that Crawford is making his welterweight debut and there are a plethora of fighters that he’ll need to put on notice. Although they might not admit it, Keith Thurman, Errol Spence Jr, Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia will be watching and he wants to make an impression. He also wants people to know that he’s not Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn has no business in the ring with him. He won’t say it, but he’ll allude to it.
Crawford makes statements with his actions and not his mouth. For what he lacks in giving a buzz worthy interview, he makes up for by beating people up in a boxing ring. And, whether you hear him say it or not, he likes beating people up. No world title is going to cause him to change how he fights. He doesn’t protect, he assaults. And Jeff Horn will likely be the next victim to be pummeled by Terence Crawford.
Once everyone gets the message, it’ll be interesting to see if Al Haymon is eager to put any of his fighters in the ring with Bud. If nothing else, Crawford’s performance and his future will be the water cooler conversation come Monday. And that’s just what he wants - you to talk about him and how bad he beat down his opponent.