By Keith Idec
Terence Crawford couldn’t have been more impressive in his HBO debut March 30.
The undefeated lightweight from Omaha, Neb., out-boxed heavy-handed Colombian Breidis Prescott pretty easily in a 10-round fight Crawford accepted on about 10 days notice. He also beat Prescott at 140 pounds, a weight at which Crawford wasn’t accustomed to fighting.
The 25-year-old Crawford wants to demonstrate Saturday night that his victory over Prescott was just the first of many superb performances he’ll produce during his career. He’ll meet Mexico’s Alejandro Sanabria in a 10-round lightweight fight, the first of two bouts HBO will televise from American Airlines Center in Dallas (10:45 p.m. ET/PT).
“I trained real hard for this fight,” Crawford said during a press conference Thursday in Dallas. “I never overlook an opponent and I’m just ready to go out Saturday and display my talent once again, and show everybody that it wasn’t no one-hit wonder.”
On paper, Sanabria (34-1-1, 25 KOs) doesn’t appear as dangerous as Prescott (26-5, 20 KOs), especially since Crawford (20-0, 15 KOs) has had plenty of time to prepare for their fight.
In his last fight, Sanabria beat Nery Saguilan (25-3-1, 10 KOs) by split decision in a 10-rounder Nov. 24 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Sanabria also has lost a 10-round unanimous decision to Mexico’s Robinson Castellanos (18-9, 11 KOs), who upset Panama’s Celestino Caballero by split decision in his last fight, a 12-rounder April 20 in Panama City. In his most noteworthy fight to date, Sanabria lost a 12-round unanimous decision to Rocky Juarez (29-10-1, 21 KOs) in February 2011.
“This is a great opportunity in my career,” Sanabria said. “I trained very hard. … I know that I’m fighting a very speedy opponent. I’ve faced tough opponents in my career. I know I’m facing a very tough opponent, but I know I can do it. I can deal with it. I’m prepared to do it. I’m ready for this opportunity. I want to show Top Rank what I can do. I want to keep coming back to the States. I want a world title opportunity and I know this is a step towards that goal.”
Promoter Bob Arum anticipates another victory for Crawford, who really impressed Arum by the way he handled himself before and during the Prescott fight.
“There was a debate about whether he was ready, whether he had enough time,” Arum said. “So we put it to him and his co-manager, and they said, ‘Absolutely. We’re ready.’ Brian McIntyre told me, ‘This is a great opportunity. Even if it was 24 hours before, we would take the fight.’ And not only did he come in and be competitive with Prescott, who was a weight division above him, but he gave him a boxing lesson and won a clear-cut victory.
“So now, when it came to making another fight on HBO, there was no problem selling a Terence Crawford fight, because now Terence Crawford is recognized by everyone and Terence Crawford is recognized as one of the best, if not the best 135-pounder out there.”
The Crawford-Sanabria bout will open a “Boxing After Dark” telecast on HBO. The main event will match Mikey Garcia (31-0, 26 KOs), of Oxnard Calif., against Puerto Rico’s Juan Manuel Lopez (33-2, 30 KOs) in a 12-round featherweight fight.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.