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Mayweather: The Perfect Fighter Still Pitching the Perfect Game

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New York Yankees righthander Don Larsen, who had gone 3-21 just two seasons earlier with the Baltimore Orioles, had only minutes earlier finished pitching the first – and to date, only – perfect game in World Series history, a 2-0 masterpiece over the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 5 of the 1956 Fall Classic in Yankee Stadium. Trying to make sense of the seemingly miraculous feat he had just witnessed, Joe Trimble of the New York Daily News struggled to find just the right words to begin his story. Dick Young came to his colleague’s rescue, typing in the seven-word opening paragraph that became one of the most famous leads in newspaper sports journalism.

“The imperfect man pitched a perfect game.”

Boxing and baseball are different sports, to be sure, but to the casual observer it would appear that Floyd Mayweather Jr. has surpassed “imperfect man” Larsen in at least one respect. Where Larsen went 27 up, 27 down on one magical afternoon, Mayweather – whom many have proclaimed as the “perfect” boxer – has gone 46 up and 46 down as a professional, with Argentine tough guy Marcos Maidana (35-4, 31 KOs) likely to be become his 47th consecutive victim Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It’s a rematch of their March 5 fight in which Mayweather was pressed far more than usual in winning a 12-round majority decision, the type of give-and-take affair in which he is rarely obliged to engage.

The television ads for the Showtime Pay-Per-View do-over loudly proclaim the previous close call as “Mayweather’s toughest fight,” which it really isn’t. If you want to see Mayweather truly pushed to the limit, YouTube his Dec. 7, 2002, unanimous decision over Jose Luis Castillo, which remains the ultimate litmus test for someone who guards the “0” in the loss column of his record as if it were the gold in Fort Knox. That is an appropriate analogy when you consider that Mayweather – and he is not the first superstar athlete to think this way – regards his enormous earning power as further certification that he is unique and unlike anyone who came before him, or might come at some later date. He has earned a reported $350 million in boxing, more than any fighter ever has, and with three more bouts before his lucrative six-bout deal with Showtime expires, the man they call “Money” could well push that figure close to $500 million by the time he hangs up his gloves. He has announced – and, really, there is little reason to doubt him this time – that 2015 is the final year in which we will see him as an active fighter before he devotes himself to the next phase of his boxing life as a promoter and entrepreneur.

But, upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that the Mayweather we have been told is singularly distinctive has been glimpsed before, at least in part, in the person of at least one predecessor of fairly recent vintage. Even the stories about Mayweather now being authored have a sameness that call to mind individuals that came before. That is not necessarily a negative, but it is a reminder that, in boxing as in Hollywood, there are only so many original ideas that can be conceived before the recycling process kicks into gear.

A lengthy profile of Mayweather by the Washington Post’s Rick Maese in advance of the second Maidana fight touches on all the pertinent facts, and is indicative of the writer’s skill as a wordsmith. But even Maese finds it difficult to come up with anything that hasn’t been written before about a famous fighter who has been psychoanalyzed more than the sum total of Sigmund Freud’s case studies. Consider how Maese concludes his story, with Mayweather leaving his gym in Las Vegas to head off into the artificiality of the neon-lit gambling mecca the world’s current pound-for-pound champ, who was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Mich., has made his home.

“For Vegas and for Mayweather, it’s all choreographed, shimmering and plastic and contradictory at even turn,” Maese observes. “The money rolls in faster than anyone can count; air is pumped through the vents; entertainment is available at all hours. There’s no clock or rhyme or reason to anything, and everything under the sun can be bought. It’s all fueled by money and whim. Indulgences are the norm, excesses expected, and no indiscretion is ever judged.

“It’s the perfect city for an imperfect man.”

Somewhere, if Don Larsen were to read that description the puncher and the gaudy town that has so embraced him, you’d have to figure he’d have to crack a smile.

The Maese piece on Mayweather also examines the seeming conflict between “Money’s” swaggering, arrogant belief that he is unbeatable in the ring with the self-doubt that the fighter, at least to the writer’s way of thinking, apparently is harboring.

“Everything about Mayweather screams of insecurities: the way he flashes money, plays for cameras, seeks attention,” Maese writes. “But he says he’s completely comfortable with who he is, with what he has and with what he doesn’t. The real Mayeather is `a family man,’ he says, `a person who likes to give back, a great heart, loyal and honest.’ The cocky, flashy portrayal the world sees is apparently just a carefully crafted projection.”

It became clear to me that the Mayweather that Rick Maese sees is, in many ways, a replication of the Roy Jones Jr. that I perceived to be not so very long ago. Similarities between the two most naturally gifted fighters of their respective eras? They are plentiful: almost surrealistic talent, a fixation with image, the delineation between public and private personas and, as their reputations became increasingly outsized, a hesitancy to venture into the deepest and most treacherous waters of a shark-infested occupation.

It is tricky business when a writer, any writer, seeks to find real honesty in the morass of lies and half-truths swirling within a carefully orchestrated setting in which elite fighters, and their publicists, seek to cultivate public opinion to the purpose of generating maximum exposure and profit. Consider this, which I wrote about an in-decline Jones in November 2008:

“I’m not a psychologist, so I won’t attempt to go all Freudian in analyzing why Jones has been as disappointing in some regards as he has been exhilarating in others. I do think he has harbored a fear of being seriously hurt because of the state of living death in which his friend, Gerald McClellan, has existed for these past 13 years. It’s a gut reaction that most human beings can understand; prizefighting is a dangerous occupation most sensible persons wouldn’t dare attempt.

“It does seem apparent to me, though, that Jones is a mass of conflicted emotions, a preening show of bravado on the outside and a gnawing core of self-doubt on the inside. Teddy Atlas told us years ago, before Mike Tyson’s comeuppances at the hands of Buster Douglas, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Danny Williams and even Kevin McBride, that the self-proclaimed `baddest man on the planet’ was a bully who would not know how to react when someone had enough gumption to stand up to him.”

There are obvious differences between Mayweather and Jones, of course. From a technical standpoint, Jones – like the young Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali – did everything wrong, but it turned out right, at least for a long time, because of his superior physical gifts. The young Ali and the young Jones could drop their hands to their sides, lean straight back, throw punches off the wrong foot and get away with it because of their remarkable reflexes and sense of timing. They were, in a manner of speaking, like gifted jazz musicians, playing riffs that only they could hear in their heads. But when the pace of the music changed, along with their reactive speed, their results took a decided turn for the worse. Mayweather, on the other hand, possesses some of Jones’ instinctive moves, but his technique is far more polished and fundamentally flawless. He does everything right, and so far it keeps turning out right.

The other difference is the fact that Jones, who at 45 is a mere shadow of his former greatness, has eight defeats on his record, four of which came on knockouts. Mayweather is fixated on the notion of retiring undefeated, convinced that an unblemished record will – must – elevate him above even great fighters who have had to swallow the bitter pill of occasional defeat.

Like Jones, who liked to tell everyone that there was a marked difference between nice-guy Roy and the badass “RJ” who was his version of Dr. Hyde to the more frequently witnessed Dr. Jekyll, Mayweather has subdivided himself into family-man Floyd and “Money,” who is that much more brash and presumably more difficult for outclassed opponents to deal with in the ring.

“RJ is a bad dude,” Jones said after the first of his three bouts with Antonio Tarver, which he won on a close decision, his only victory in the trilogy. “I don’t like to mess with him too much. But my subconscious, which is where he usually dwells, seems to be jacked up … You don’t get to see me like that often.”

And Mayweather?

“You have Floyd Mayweather and then you have Money Mayweather,” both personas’ friend and longtime business associate, Leonard Ellerbe, is quoted as saying in the story by Maese. “Money Mayweather is what the fans see.”

Sometimes, though, it is difficult distinguishing Floyd from Money. For someone who has made such a point of his devotion to his family, Floyd/Money has been involved in domestic violence cases in which he is alleged to have struck Josie Harris, mother to three of his four children, and, more recently, fiancée Shantel Jackson. There have been other dustups outside the ring, creating the impression of someone who is at least periodically out of control. In the wake of the domestic-violence incident that got Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice drummed out of the NFL, Mayweather again flouted convention by rising to Rice’s defense, saying that “I think there’s a lot worse things that go on in other people’s households. It’s just not caught on video, if that’s safe to say … Like I’ve said in the past, no bumps, no bruises, no nothing. With O.J. and Nicole, you seen pictures. With Chris Brown and Rihanna, you seen pictures. With (Chad) Ochocinco and Evelyn, you seen pictures. You guys have yet to see any pictures of a battered woman, a woman who claims she was kicked and beaten (by Mayweather).”

Pretty repellant stuff, but then allowances always have been made in boxing for even the outrageous of statements and actions. Mayweather’s tacit if not outright acceptance of his semi-villainous reputation isn’t likely to affect his box-office and PPV clout. He doesn’t much care if fight fans buy his fights to see him win or lose, so long as his take-home check has enough zeroes on it.

“Whether my hand is raised or not, winning is giving it 100 percent, but if I make $70 million or $80 million, guess what? I’m a winner,” he says in the Maese piece.

If that were the case, however, Mayweather would understand that his fattest payday, and his best opportunity to embellish his legacy, would be to simply end the interminable suspense of his circle dance with Manny Pacquiao and sign for the fight that everyone most wants to see. Who’s right and who’s wrong no longer matters much; fighting Maidana, Amir Khan or anyone else whose name has been floated for the Floyd’s Farewell Tour is no longer sufficient to fully secure the 37-year-old Mayweather’s place in the annals of boxing. Nor can he continue to casually dismiss Pacquiao as a “little yellow chump” who somehow is unworthy to swap punches with him simply because “Pac-Man” is promoted by Bob Arum, who once promoted Mayweather and is the object of some of Money’s most virulent ire. The old, tired excuses not only don’t fly anymore, they can’t even get airborne.

I don’t believe that Mayweather is afraid of Pacquiao, whom I have long admired as a fighter. In fact, I would have picked Mayweather to win years ago, and I’d pick him to win now. But his inclination to play it safe, relatively speaking, in the maintenance of his undefeated record as his career winds down also calls to mind one of the less praiseworthy aspects of the Roy Jones Jr. that once occupied the pinnacle upon which Mayweather now is perched.

“Roy Jones,” former HBO senior vice president Lou DiBella once noted, “is the most careful great fighter I’ve ever seen.”

Added Seth Abraham, the onetime HBO Sports president: “(Jones’) drive was to do things that were of interest to him, but not necessarily to fight the very best middleweights, super middleweights and light heavyweights who were out there. I think Roy’s legacy in the sport absolutely will suffer because he chose not to do everything he could to make himself as great as he might have been.”

Jones is a future first-ballot inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, his recent stumbles notwithstanding, and so is Mayweather. A loss to Maidana – and, let’s face it, Mayweather is no more resistant to the aging process than any other fighter, although Bernard Hopkins might qualify as an exception to the natural laws of diminishing returns – won’t change that. But the window of opportunity is closing fast for him to do the right thing and stare across the ring at Pacquiao, rather than to trash-talk him from a distance.

Hopkins has correctly noted that there are things even more precious to a fighter than immense wealth, which is why the 49-year-old ageless wonder has elected to test himself in a Nov. 8 unification matchup with the most devastating puncher in the light heavyweight division, Russia’s Sergey Kovalev.

“I want to fight the best,” reasoned Hopkins, who added that “history don’t go broke,” which is more than can be said about athletes with profligate spending habits who eventually find themselves destitute. It is the reason B-Hop will be remembered fondly even if he is beaten bloody by Kovalev. The old guy at least will have taken his best shot at making more history, and therein is a nobility that is indisputable.

Forget the veneer of faux perfection. I will be watching Mayweather-Maidana II, like a lot of other people, but only as it serves as a hopeful step toward Mayweather-Pacquiao. And if that fight never happens, it will be a hundred times worse than Roy Jones Jr. declining to bite the bullet, travel to Europe and mix it up with Dariusz Michalczewski.

Fight fans deserve something better than consolation prizes from someone who insists he isn’t merely the best fighter of today, but the best ever. So Floyd – or Money, whomever he chooses to be at any given moment – is almost obligated to do the right thing, if not for our sake than for his own peace of mind.

Because not only is it time, it’s long overdue.

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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 more than likely 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 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 can’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 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 is 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 home stretch. And the right uppercut that dropped Benavidez shows 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 exhibited why he’s the most diverse and stylistically 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 as a fighter and technician. 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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