By Scott Christ
Terence Crawford returns to HBO on Saturday night.
Record: 30-0 (21 KO) … Streak: W30 … Last 5: 5-0 … Last 10: 10-0 … Stance: Orthodox … Height/Reach: 5’8″ / 70″ … Age: 29
Thoughts: Over the past few years, Crawford has emerged as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, winning world titles at lightweight and junior welterweight, where he now reigns as the clear-cut No. 1 fighter in the world.
Holder of the WBC and WBO titles, Crawford is all but out of competition at 140. He dominated the division’s No. 2 man, Viktor Postol, last summer, though few people saw it as it was pushed to pay-per-view due to budget concerns at HBO.
Crawford’s goal has been stated repeatedly: he wants to unify at 140. That could be accomplished, even if it’s tough politically. Julius Indongo, who isn’t with Al Haymon or anything (yet), may face Anthony Crolla next, as Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn has an option for him. He holds the WBA and IBF titles, so a Crawford-Indongo fight could be the first full unification of a division we’ve seen in many years. But getting all the sanctioning bodies on board is as tough as anything, finding the right timing between various mandatory obligations and such.
For now, Crawford is kinda treading water. Diaz follows John Molina Jr, Crawford’s last opponent, and before Postol, Terence fought Hank Lundy and Dierry Jean. His win over Postol is easily his biggest statement at 140. You could even argue that his résumé isn’t that strong at 140, but he also passes the eye test spectacularly. He’s a talented, smart fighter with a mean streak, who fights not only to win but to impress.
Record: 19-1 (9 KO) … Streak: W2 … Last 5: 4-1 … Last 10: 9-1 … Stance: Southpaw … Height/Reach: 5’5″ / 67″ … Age: 33
Thoughts: Diaz is giving up notable height and reach, which he usually is at 140 and 147. More importantly, he’s something of a mirage contender, with very little on his CV other than a disputed loss to Lamont Peterson that’s worth exploring too much.
What are his best wins? A controversial victory over Adrian Granados and a win over Sammy Vasquez Jr, who turned out to be something of a local creation. Other than that, we’re talking about a lot of nothing to write home about.
Diaz, though, is an Olympic gold medalist, winning at light welterweight in Beijing in 2008, an upset result that made him something of a hot property coming into the pro ranks. He took a while to develop, not facing a serious opponent for almost five years, and once he did, he didn’t really impress against Emmanuel Lartei Lartey or Granados.
His fight with Peterson, his only loss, is his most impressive performance. He hung tough with a guy who has held world titles and long been a contender at 140. But does that give him a real shot against Crawford? Probably not. Crawford isn’t Peterson — he’s more dynamic, and, well, simply a better fighter.
Matchup Grade: C. I don’t think this fight holds up too well upon a closer examination. It’s a filler fight in Crawford’s career, sold as being more than that, of course, but it is what it is. Diaz isn’t a bad fighter, but he’s never proven to be in Crawford’s class, and I wouldn’t expect any drama in this fight.
- In a substandard HBO co-feature, Ray Beltran (32-7-1, 20 KO) will take on Jonathan Maicelo (25-2, 12 KO). The good news is it could be a fun enough fight to watch, but it’s a meeting of fringe contenders at 135. This would be right at home as the opener on a disappointing PPV undercard. But it’s not poorly-matched or anything. Matchup Grade: C.
- Welterweight prospect Konstantin Ponomarev (31-0, 13 KO) will face veteran Ed Paredes (38-6-1, 25 KO) in the other really notable (so to speak) undercard bout. Ponomarev, 24, is skilled but not an overwhelming talent. He should win here, as Paredes is a journeyman fighter. It’s a stay-busy fight.
- 2016 Olympians Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (1-0, 1 KO), Shakur Stevenson (1-0, 0 KO), and Teofimo Lopez (4-0, 4 KO) will also be in action, getting a chance to fight at MSG for the first time each.
Source:: Bad Left Hook