by Cliff Rold
If last Saturday was an audition for a fight with Manny Pacquiao, Terence Crawford did his part in the ring. Whether the economics make sense for such a fight right now will be determined.
In the ring, Crawford is ready for his chance at superstardom. Dierry Jean has been defeated before. He’s never been beaten up. Crawford showed off his full offensive arsenal, defensive skills, and a mean streak.
2015 wasn’t the year it could have been for Crawford. At least he made the most of his closing shot.
Let’s go to the report card.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Crawford A-; Jean B+/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Crawford B+; Jean B/Post: A-; B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Crawford A-; Jean B/Post: A-; B-
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Crawford A; Jean B/Post: Same
Style points always count in a sport so reliant on aesthetics. When a fighter is supposed to win, making sure they do often isn’t the hardest part. The hardest part is looking good doing it and sending the fans home happy. It’s too easy to disappoint when doing something one is supposed to do.
Crawford looked good Saturday, fighting with a chip on his shoulder and engaging an opponent he could probably have outboxed in boring fashion. That meant getting hit in spots, notably in the eighth but also in some sixth round exchanges.
Much of that was a reflection of the courage of Jean. Jean was still trying to win all along, even trying to find a punch during Crawford’s closing assault in the tenth. The right Jean landed in the eighth, were he a bigger puncher, might have been a bigger deal.
If Crawford has a weakness, it’s that his head can sometimes be stationary, His shoulder and upper body movement is good but the head sometimes appears to stay in place. That doesn’t make it easy to find, but Crawford is growing more comfortable as an aggressive boxer/puncher. Against a fighter with effective combination punching, it could get interesting.
One has to get past the jab and combinations of Crawford first. Jean couldn’t. No one else has yet either. At 140 and 147 lbs. (and let’s be honest, the 5’8 Crawford is going to be a Welterweight sooner than later), there will increasingly be more risk. Let’s be honest: while he had one hell of a 2014, he was running through a lesser period at 135 lbs. historically. Yuriorkis Gamboa was and is quite talented but a little smaller. At 140 lbs., he’s faced two solid guys in a row but hasn’t quite hit the upper echelon of the division.
That’s not being critical. He’s beaten good guys. It’s just to say now we are at the point where the next level is ready to be cleared. At 28, he’s ready for the Pacquiao level challenges. If that fight isn’t there, he’s ready for the winner of Timothy Bradley-Brandon Rios or Viktor Postol.
Terence Crawford is ready for anyone. 2016 could be the year we find out whether being ready is the first step to defining something truly special. So far, Crawford looks to have special potential.
Report Card and Staff Picks 2015: 80-22
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]