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In Appreciation of: Holyfield Beating Tyson In 1996

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In what was as complete a performance as one could imagine from a seemingly over-the-hill fighter, Evander Holyfield rewrote the script by dismantling Mike Tyson in eleven one-sided rounds at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas on November 9th, 1996.

Considered shot , and with concerns lingering over his health due to a suspected heart condition, many believed Holyfield wouldn’t make it past the second round against Tyson. Had the fight ended in tragedy, which was widely feared because of Evander’s tremendous heart and never say die attitude, there would have been public uproar. It would be no exaggeration to suggest that there was more chance of the sacrificial lamb coming out on top during the slaughter than poor “old” Evander had of avoiding severe punishment at the hands of “The Baddest Man on the Planet”. Anyone who had seen Holyfield’s last two fights (a knockout loss to Riddick Bowe and a lackluster win over former middleweight Bobby Czyz) alongside Tyson’s (demolitions of Frank Bruno and Bruce Seldon inside of three rounds) had every right to believe that while one man should be at the very top of father time’s things to-do list, the other was returning to something like his scintillating best.

Shame on us.

Evander Holyfield’s deconstruction of “Iron” Mike Tyson forever sealed his fate as one of the greatest heavyweights to have ever lived. Though Holyfield gave all credit to God for the victory, his fearlessness, physical strength and immense self-belief were also huge factors in allowing him to triumph against the odds. Holyfield showed no fear whatsoever toward a man who made other heavyweights, far larger than himself, tremble in fear with little more than a passing glance. As high as a 25/1 underdog prior to the fight, Evander Holyfield defeated Mike Tyson not just physically, but psychologically too.

That said, lack of fear alone would not have been enough to get the job done against Mike Tyson. Neither would relying solely on superior physical strength for that matter. Hence, I’d like to highlight many of the understated boxing techniques that Evander Holyfield implemented on that unforgettable night in Vegas. For make no mistake, Tyson’s demise on that night had more to do with Holyfield’s superior craft than it did with anything else.

Before we delve any deeper into the fight, however, I think it’s important to take into acknowledge that Mike Tyson had declined somewhat as a fighter. Although it was never really mentioned at the time, looking back, I think it’s clear that Tyson was no longer operating on the same offensive or defensive level as he was under the tutelage of Kevin Rooney. Not only had the angular attacks in combination gone missing, but also the pre-emptive head movement as he was looking to get closer to his opponent. During his prime under Rooney (1985-1988) Tyson’s defense as he was advancing, which consisted of slips and double slips to the outside and inside of his opponent’s jabs and straights, allowed him to set up hard counters with either hand. Without Rooney is his corner, Tyson had become a little one dimensional, resulting in predictable straight line attacks that lacked creativity or thought.

Nevertheless, let’s not take anything away from Evander Holyfield. Mike Tyson was still generally considered the best heavyweight in the world at the time as his hand speed and explosiveness –still way above average for a heavyweight- as well as his concussive punching power were usually enough for him to come out on top against most opposition not going by the name of Evander Holyfield.

Although I’m personally of the opinion that by the time Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield squared off, Tyson had all but forgotten about using his defense to set up his offense, he still frequently employed one of the many early signature attacks that were taught to him during the days of Cus D’Amato and Kevin Rooney. As Tyson looked to bridge the gap between himself and his opponent, he would often throw a half jab (jab feint) to create an opening for an overhand right or right cross –a variation on the cross counter.

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Here’s a young Mike Tyson performing one of his signature attacks. As Tyson looks to enter into punching range, he performs a half jab followed by an overhand right. Here, Tyson’s non-committal, distance closing half jab has drawn out a response and created a perfect opening for his right hand over the top of his opponent’s jab.

Let’s take another look at Tyson’s crushing right hand preceded by a half jab.

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Here again, we see Tyson closing in, using a half jab to set up his overhand right. Tyson’s slight level change along with a non-contact half jab help to create an opening for his right hand. Using the half jab as a set up also chambers his right hand, placing it into a cocked position.

Were it not for Evander Holyield’s tremendous set of whiskers, the fight may have been over the moment it started. As both fighters met in the center of the ring, Tyson quickly launched said attack, throwing a half jab before landing a huge right hand on the jaw of Holyfield.

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As Tyson looks to enter, he throws a half jab, proceeded by an overhand right. In this instance, Tyson’s deceptive jab draws out a rear hand parry from Evander, resulting in Tyson’s overhand right traveling through the created opening and sending Holyfield stumbling toward the ropes.

With Holyfield weathering the early storm, Tyson soon realized that the man standing in front of him was a far cry from what he’d become accustomed to facing lately. Along with remaining undeterred after eating Tyson’s right hand early, there was another key moment that signalled why Holyfield was very different from anyone who Tyson had recently shared a ring with. Where most of Tyson’s opponents would back up in a straight line in attempting to avoid his sudden rushes, Holyfield had a contrasting outlook as to how to defense Tyson’s attack. Here is where we got our first glimpse of Holyfield’s superior counterpunching ability.

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As Tyson throws a left hook, instead of distancing himself to avoid the blow, Holyfield blocks the hook using his right forearm, then immediately counters with a double hook (short left hook to the waistline then a left hook to the head). Notice how the low hook causes Tyson to lower his stance and bring his guard down which in turn opens up a target up top. This is the main reason behind lever punching. Also, notice how as Holyfield lands his double left hook, he immediately pivots on his lead foot, taking himself off the line off attack. This is how Holyfield ends up on the opposite side of the ring to where he started his combination from. Again, instead of backing up in a straight line, Holyfield is countering and turning Tyson.

Before we go any further, I’d like you to take a look at Tyson’s face in the last still of that sequence.

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As Tyson is adjusting his shorts, his facial expression says a thousand words. Mike Tyson was the ultimate confidence fighter, a front runner. Having seen his right hand prove ineffectual and then having another attack easily diffused and countered within the opening moments of the fight, I believe Tyson began to show early signs of defeat. His smirk here is almost that of surprise. Doubt was already beginning to creep in.

As the fight progressed, Tyson continued to attack Holyfield in a straight line. There was little to no head movement, no ducking or slipping before entering, and apart from a moment when Tyson managed to land his signature right hook to the body followed by a right uppercut to the chin, which Holyfield took without really batting an eyelid, there were no signs of the combinations that made him one of the most unique heavyweights around. With Holyfield jabbing from the outside, moving laterally to avoid Tyson’s rushes, he then began to stand his ground more. Any time Tyson managed to breech Holyfield’s range, Evander would simply clinch and push Tyson off. You see, this is one of the biggest misconceptions that surrounds Mike Tyson. Although he advanced in a way that suggested he wanted to get inside at all costs, his best work was actually done on the way in. Apart from his right hook/right uppercut combination and left hook to the body in close, which, were always more effective against opponents who were a lot taller than himself, Tyson wasn’t the inside fighter everyone seems to think he was. As I’ve already mentioned, many of Tyson’s opponents thought the best way to fight him was to avoid his rushes by backing up. This was suicide, especially during his prime. Tyson’s sudden shifts and explosiveness were simply too much for those who moved off in a straight line. Those who did always found themselves on the very end of his punches. Evander Holyfield showed that by getting close to Tyson, and by not giving him his desired momentum, he wasn’t as dangerous.

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Here’s a segment where Holyfield and Tyson are at close quarters. First, let’s look at Tyson’s body shape. His hands are chest height, his shoulders are square and his feet are parallel. Tyson’s balance, which is of the upmost importance during infighting, is severely compromised. By contrast, Holyfield’s rear leg is out behind, giving him far greater stability. His right glove is in a position to block against Tyson’s left hook and his body is chambered ready to deliver a left hook. Regardless of who was physically stronger, Holyfield’s infighting technique was simply better. At close quarters, it was Holyfield who had the advantage. Holyfield’s short hooks on the inside were a prominent weapon for him throughout the fight.

With each passing moment, as Holyfield’s confidence continued to grow, Tyson looked more and more a beaten man. With Holyfield controlling the fight, whether it was by jabbing from the outside or by landing shorts hooks on the inside, Tyson was slowly being broken down by a superior craftsman.

At the beginning of this analysis, I paid a lot of attention to Tyson’s half jab/right hand attack. The reason being that I believe the fight was quite literally won and lost on Tyson’s failure to land it, Holyfield’s ability to counter it, and Tyson’s inability to move away from it. Although Holyfield took Tyson’s right hand at the beginning of the fight, there’s no doubt that an accumulation of the same blow over the course of the fight would have eventually gotten Evander out of there. However, instead of looking to all out avoid the blow, Holyfield embraced it and used it as a way to trigger his counter right hand.

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As Tyson moves in behind a half jab, Holyfield performs a rear hand parry, rolls with Tyson’s right hand, and counters with his own right hand.

Much in the same way as Juan Manuel Marquez recently treated Manny Pacquiao’s non-contact feint and jab (a precursor for his straight left) as a trigger for his own overhand right, Evander Holyfield did the same in this fight. As Tyson threw his non-contact half jab, Holyfield parried it anyway and treat it as a precursor for Tyson’s right hand. Although parrying is primarily a defensive measure, it can also be used to get your opponent’s timing down. Throughout the fight, Holyfield parried Tyson’s jab to trigger his counter right hand.

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Once more, Tyson looks to attack by feinting with the jab to set up his right hand. Notice Holyfield’s rear hand in the first still. He’s already anticipating Tyson’s next move. As Tyson throws the jab, Holyfield is fully aware that the moment he parries, a right hand will be heading his way. As a result, he’s able to roll with the blow and counter Tyson with his own right hand. Notice also how Holyfield’s head is taken away from the centerline as he lands his counter right hand, thus eliminating any chance of Tyson countering back without having to punch across himself.

If any of you decide to watch the fight after this analysis, you may feel that Tyson is actually catching Holyfield clean every time he throws his right hand. However, what Holyfield is successfully doing is rolling in the same direction as the blow. This shouldn’t be confused with what Floyd Mayweather has made a career out of doing (rolling the blow off his shoulder). Rather, Holyfield is actually absorbing some of the blow. Instead of absorbing the full weight of it, however, Holyfield is turning his head in the same direction, taking away some of its weight, while chambering himself to come back with his right hand. It’s one thing to stand in front of Philip Ndou and roll with his punches, but standing in front of Mike Tyson and rolling with his right hand is another thing entirely.

Evander Holyfield’s counterpunching, more than anything else, continued to be the story of the fight.

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Devoid of ideas, Tyson continues to load up with his right hand. Again, Holyfield’s rear hand parry is key. This time, instead of waiting on the right hand, Holyfield parries the jab, continues forward and intercepts Tyson’s right hand with his own short right hand. Although the blow is short and doesn’t appear all that damaging, Tyson’s forward momentum is doubling up its impact. No doubt, these are damaging counters from Evander.

Although Evander Holyfield will likely be remembered mostly for his unmatched heart and resiliency, this next sequence highlights just how calculating he could be in the ring.

Below we see a double counter from Holyfield.

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As Tyson moves in again looking to land his right hand, Holyfield parries his jab and counters with his own jab. Because Tyson’s momentum carries him forward as he’s trying to land his right hand, Holyfield moves inside the arc of the blow and counters again with a right hand to the body. Although this sequence happens in an instant, seeing it frame by frame shows you just how quick Holyfield’s mind was working in there.

While I was watching the fight back, although I was in awe of Holyfield’s counterpunching ability, I couldn’t help but wonder how much Mike Tyson may or may not have benefited from a better corner on that night. For me, Tyson simply went to the well too many times by continuing to load up on his right hand. It clearly wasn’t working for him. Maybe a better corner may have instructed him to feint the jab to draw out the parry and throw a right uppercut instead. Or to change the rhythm of his attack, maybe feint with the jab, throw a real jab, then throw the right hand. Or, rather than using it exclusively as a set up for the right hand, maybe hook off the jab instead. Needless to say, Tyson’s predictable attacks allowed Holyfield to systematically counterpunch him to pieces.

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Here’s where Tyson tasted the canvas off a Holyfield counter left. As Tyson came forward in a straight line, Holyfield stepped out of range, blocked a Tyson left with the outside of his right glove, and countered with a short left shovel hook.

The end of the fight came after more counterpunching brilliance from Holyfield.

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Here, as Tyson throws his usual jab before the right hand, Holyfield fades and comes back with a counter right, catching Tyson coming in. Although Tyson was eventually finished with a volley of lefts and rights as his back was against the ropes, it was this counter right hand from Holyfield that all but ended the fight.

To simply put this fantastic performance down to Evander Holyfield being unafraid of Mike Tyson does the man a major disservice. Sure, Holyfield’s mental toughness and Tyson’s lack thereof had plenty to do with the outcome, but Tyson’s predictable attacks along with Holyfield’s superior boxing ability and in particular, his counterpunching excellence, had more to do with the outcome than anything else, resulting in Evander Holyfield having one of the best nights in the ring a supposed no-hoper could have.

Writer’s note: This analysis was written for Mr. Kelsey McCarson.

 

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Crawford Ends it Like a Champ

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This past weekend WBO welterweight titleholder Terence Crawford 34-0 (25) retained his title stopping Jose Benavidez 27-1 (18) in the 12th round. Crawford was cruising along dominating the fight from the sixth round on, then came out hard in the last round and went for the kill against a tiring Benavidez. It ended abruptly when Crawford jarred and dropped Benavidez with a right uppercut to the chin. Benavidez beat the count but was immediately overwhelmed by Crawford as soon as the fight resumed and it was halted.

Prior to the bout Crawford was considered the best pound for pound fighter in boxing by many. His performance against Benavidez further endorses that sentiment….unless Benavidez being competitive during the first five rounds is enough to make some re-think their position. For those who weren’t aware, Benavidez was the fifth undefeated opponent Crawford has defeated in a title bout over three weight divisions and he’s now 12-0 (9) in world title bouts.

The Benavidez fight was Crawford’s first 147-pound title defense since winning it from Jeff Horn this past June. And it started in typical Crawford fashion. For the first two rounds Crawford surveyed Benavidez (who may be the biggest and longest welterweight in the division) while Jose was looking to apply his physical advantages. Crawford fought from a conventional stance through the first round and then as it was winding down he reverted to fighting as a southpaw and stayed in that stance for the rest of the fight. In the second Crawford did a little of everything but was mostly trying to get a read on Benavidez’s long jab. He tried leading and countering both on the move and in flurries but wasn’t initially met with overwhelming success. Benavidez forced Crawford to work as Jose moved in from a slight crouch hoping to lure Crawford into going first, and he did. However, Crawford disrupted his plan by slamming him to the body.  In return, Jose also went to the body but the difference over the first five rounds was Crawford’s quicker hands and more imaginative offense.

By the time the sixth round rolled around, Benavidez, who initially showed up to win, was reduced to accepting that he couldn’t outfight Crawford. Thus, he was reduced to doing just enough to keep Crawford from brutalizing him and to save face. During the mid-rounds when Crawford was killing his body and then flurrying with right hooks to the head, the only thing Benavidez could offer back was a shrug of his shoulders. In other words Jose was trying to con the judges into thinking Crawford was fighting his rear off yet he couldn’t do any real damage. Muhammad Ali applied the same con job against Joe Frazier during their first fight, and like Frazier, Crawford ignored it and kept working the body and mixing things up.

By the eighth round, Benavidez was slowed to a walk and his punch output was reduced to just doing enough so Crawford couldn’t go at him with total impunity. However, that was about to change. Crawford raised the rent in the 10th round and started to plant more and forced Benavidez to retreat after whacking him with straight lefts and counter right hooks to both the head and body. The more Benavidez refused to engage and shrugged his shoulders trying to convince Terence he couldn’t hurt him – Crawford knew better and in turn stayed focused and kept going at Benavidez when he knew he really was done fighting and hoping to go the distance. The problem was the bad blood between them was something Crawford wouldn’t let go of nor was he about to show his thoroughly drained and beaten opponent any mercy….it’s not in Crawford’s DNA.

Finally, after a pretty spirited fight, and winning all but maybe two rounds going into the 12th, Crawford had Benavidez where he wanted him – and that was right in front of him, tired and defenseless with little punch or resistance left. It was obvious as the fight wore on that Crawford wanted a stoppage victory and wouldn’t be happy until he separated himself from his lanky opponent and the only way to achieve that was by ending the fight inside the distance.

“It was coming,” Crawford said. “It was just a matter of time. He slowed down tremendously. He was tired. That’s when I seen my opportunity to take my uppercut shot. Every time I’ll feint, he would pull back. So I was like, ‘Now is not the time.’ But once he slowed down, I seen that I can catch him with it and then that’s what I did.”

Crawford met Benavidez, who attempted to stem the tide, at the start of the final round. Terence unloaded on Benavidez to the head and body, wasting few punches. Crawford worked with the intent to finish his younger and beaten opponent. Crawford landed a jarring right uppercut that had Benavidez go down, nearly in a half somersault. Once they resumed engaging, Crawford flurried and the bout was stopped with 18 seconds to go in the fight.

The showing was impressive on Crawford’s part because he was troubled early due to Benavidez’s size and somewhat unconventional style. Jose had his moments and found moderate success with his jab and a few right hands he landed when Crawford retreated, sometimes moving back in a straight line with his hands low. But other than that the fight wasn’t close and the fact that Benavidez realized he couldn’t win by the fifth round, he did what he could to prevent Crawford from beating him up but not much else.

Due to the fight going almost the entire distance, some observers feel Crawford was underwhelming; I don’t. And the reason is, Benavidez is better than most thought and he was the bigger man and it was pronounced seeing them in the ring together. In beating his bigger foe, Crawford emptied his toolbox. He boxed during the periods he was devising an attack strategy, he moved and forced Benavidez to use his legs and work…..and then countered when Jose tried to be assertive. Crawford’s body punching to both sides was impressive and truly paid dividends down the homestretch. And the right uppercut that dropped Benavidez showed that although Crawford isn’t a life-taker when it comes to power, he consistently lands clean shots that his opponents never see coming.

Crawford closed the fight like the champ he is and once again demonstrated that he’s stylistically the most versatile fighter in boxing. He answered mostly all of Benavidez’s punches with his own which is a staple of his style. Terence showed he’s capable of fully concentrating while fighting mad and seems to have an answer for anything and everything he’s confronted with. Crawford has no real weakness other than him not being a big welterweight.

There isn’t one welterweight in the world on his level. For Errol Spence, Keith Thurman or Shawn Porter to beat him – they have only one option. They better hope and pray that their physicality along with the ability to apply it can be a game changer…because if they can’t overwhelm him physically, they’ll be picked apart and totally outfought and out-thought starting around the third or fourth round when they eventually meet.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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Terence Crawford Has Conquered the World, and Now He’s Won Over Nebraska

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It was a day of even more anguish for Nebraskans, making for a night of even more exultation in a state where boxing – or, at least a particular boxer – is emerging as a hero and much-needed source of pride for citizens left wondering about the sorry state of the once-mighty Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Hours after those Cornhuskers snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, blowing a 10-point lead in the final 5 minutes, 21 seconds to fall 34-31 in overtime at Northwestern and begin a college football season 0-6 for the first time in program history, WBO welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford defended his title with panache and power, stopping previously undefeated challenger Jose Benavidez, Jr. in the 12th round to buttress his argument that he is the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. There are still pockets of resistance to his claim to that designation, of course, but none coming from the ESPN broadcast crew of Joe Tessitore, Timothy Bradley Jr. and Mark Kriegel, all of whom intermittently offered their opinion that the switch-hitting Omaha resident has now firmly established himself as best of the best.

The 31-year-old Crawford’s latest bravura performance was met with shouted hosannas of approval from the sellout crowd of 13,323 in Omaha’s CHI Health Center, a record for a boxing event in Nebraska, and a stark contrast to the burgeoning sense of panic among Cornhusker partisans, who have to be wondering who these impostors in the red-and-white uniforms are.

Crawford grew up in a poor section of Omaha as an avid Nebraska fan, and after his latest demonstration of nimble footwork, fast, accurate hands and surprising power you could hardly blame his fellow home-state citizens from wondering if he might be persuaded to enroll at NU and play quarterback for his floundering favorite team. The ability to finish strong, taking the fight even harder to Benavidez in the final round when the more prudent move might have been to simply run out the clock, stamps Crawford as the pugilistic equivalent of Tommie Frazier, the option master who led the Huskers to back-to-back national championships in 1994 and ’95. But even the legendary Frazier wasn’t perfect; he was 43-3 as a starter during his four-year college career. Crawford, now 34-0 with 25 wins inside the distance, has a vision of someday retiring undefeated, a goal that at this stage seems entirely reasonable.

Top Rank founder and CEO Bob Arum, Crawford’s promoter, cited the fighter’s 12th-round mugging of Benavidez, the key blow being a ripping right uppercut that he had hidden up his figurative sleeve like a card sharp’s ace, as proof that the three-division world champion is indeed separate and above the madding crowd.

“Most fighters today, in that position, having clearly won the fight, would back off in the 12th round, not take any chances and run out the clock,” Arum said. “Not him. He’s a performer. He wanted to close the show, and that’s what he did. That’s what makes him special. That is not the mindset most (other fighters) have. But Terence is a showman. He wants to make a statement.”

He especially wanted to make it, and as loudly as possible, against the mouthy Benavidez (27-1, 18 KOs), who has been talking smack about Crawford for months and gave him a hard shove at Friday’s weigh-in, which precipitated a retaliatory right hook from the champion. It missed, thankfully, but no matter. Crawford landed plenty of shots that did when it mattered, smoothly alternating, as always, from an orthodox stance to southpaw and back again.

“We just took our time today,” Crawford said, referring to himself in the plural rather than the singular, a nod toward his support team, most notably manager-trainer Brian McIntyre. “Everything that went on this week, he was trying to get in my head, wanting me to have a firefight with him. I knew if we got in a rhythm we could do whatever we wanted, and that’s what we did.

“He made me work in the early rounds. He was trying to counter me, working on my distance. I couldn’t figure it out at first. But once I got my distance, it was a rout from there.”

Maybe the rout evolved methodically and in a controlled fashion because that’s what Crawford, who had vowed to “punish” Benavidez for his impertinence, had in mind all along. He is a man of his word, and, also as he had vowed, he declined to touch gloves with Benavidez or to offer even a halfhearted hug after the final bell. No surprise there; like fellow Omaha native Bob Gibson, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Hall of Fame pitcher, he regards all opponents as the enemy and thus off-limits to fraternization of any kind.

What about that kept-in-reserve uppercut, which sent Benavidez tumbling awkwardly to the canvas and in obvious distress?

“I’d been seeing it rounds and rounds ahead of time,” said Crawford, who is now 5-0 in Omaha and 6-0 in  Nebraska, counting a sole appearance in Lincoln. “I seen him pulling back,but then he stopped pulling back so I started leaning more and more because I was touching him to the body. Then I threw the shot, and it landed.”

For those with a need to crunch numbers, official scorecards through 11 completed rounds all had the overwhelming wagering choice – Crawford went off at minus-3,000, or a 1-to-30 favorite – winning big on the scorecards tallied by judges Levi Martinez (110-99), Robert Hecko (108-101) and Glenn Feldman (107-102). Punch statistics furnished by CompuBox also were conclusive if not necessarily off-the-charts, with Crawford landing 186 of 579, a decent but not overly so 32.1 percent, to 92 of 501 (18.4 percent) for the outclassed but game Benavidez. But boxing is basically  an art form, not math, and like all artists Crawford is more about aesthetic impression than raw data.

For his part, Benavidez, who had promised to “shock the world” by “exposing” Crawford, figured he had done as well, if not better, than most of Bud’s previous victims.

“I gave him a hell of a fight,” Benavidez reasoned. “But I got tired. Boxing, you know. I was pretty impressive. I wanted to give the fans a fight that they paid to come watch. I know he didn’t think I would be that good.

“I take nothing from him. He’s the best of the best for a reason. He’s a good fighter, you know? But I’m a good fighter, too. I had that fight close.”

In the co-featured bout, 21-year-old featherweight Shakur Stevenson (9-0, 5 KOs), a silver medalist at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, was much more dynamic than he had been in scoring a relatively pedestrian eight-round unanimous decision over Carlos Ruiz on Aug. 18 in Atlantic City, blasting out Romanian veteran Viorel Simion (21-3, 9 KOs) in one round. The southpaw Stevenson’s weapon of choice was the right hook, which he used to telling effect to floor Simion three times, prompting referee Curtis Thrasher to wave the bout off after an elapsed time of three minutes.

Simion, a 36-year-old Romanian whose previous losses were to former world champions Lee Selby and Scott Quigg, was penciled last in as a replacement for the injured Duarn Vuc, had never been stopped in his 12-year pro career and he looked askance at Thrasher, as if disbelieving that he would not be given the opportunity to fight his way out of trouble in the scheduled  10-rounder.  But, his legs still wobbly, he was not pleading a winnable case.

“My power was here tonight, and my speed,” said Stevenson, who claimed the vacant WBC Continental Americas 126-pound title. “Ain’t too much more that I can work on, but I’m going to keep staying sharp and get right back in the gym.”

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Close Early, Then All Crawford

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Terence “Bud” Crawford stopped Jose Benavidez, Jr at 2:42 of the 12th round. Benavidez came in with an unblemished record of 27-0. That run of success came to a screeching halt tonight. For the first half of the bout, Benavidez didn’t fight like the 20/1 underdog that the odds reflected in gaming shops across the globe. He made a good accounting for himself during the first six rounds, however the same can’t be said for the remainder of the fight, as Crawford dominated from the midway point on. It was the beginning of the end with Crawford landing a picture perfect uppercut that found it’s mark late in the final stanza. While Benavidez deserves credit for getting back to his feet, he only managed to prolong the inevitable for a handful of seconds more. Crawford goes to 34-0, with 25 by KO.

Story to follow.

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