BOXING

Crawford Bests Postol, Valdez Clobbers Rueda

Terence Crawford Outboxes Viktor Postol, Unifies Titles

 The fight between Terence Crawford and Viktor Postol was a unification bout between the two best 140-pound boxers in the world. It quickly became clear that only one of them was truly the best.

That would be Crawford, who spent the first few rounds analyzing Postol and then spent the rest of the night putting what he’d learned into action and making beating one of the best junior welterweights in the world look easy.

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Crawford knocked Postol down twice in the fifth and out-boxed Postol en route to a wide unanimous decision. Two judges had it 118-107 for Crawford, giving him 10 of 12 rounds, while the third judge had it 117-108, or nine rounds to three. Those scorecards reflect that Postol lost an additional two points for the knockdowns and had another point that was taken away for hitting Crawford behind the head late in the fight.

Little happened in the opening rounds. Each man landed six shots apiece in the first round. Crawford took a similarly slow second. Postol appeared to have the edge in the third. But then Crawford’s movement, speed and smarts kicked into even higher gear, giving Postol fits. Crawford gave Postol few opportunities to throw punches. You have to throw to land. You have to land to win rounds or score a knockout. You have to win rounds or score a knockout to win a fight.

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Instead, it was Crawford putting Postol on the mat with a right hook high on the head in the opening seconds of the fifth round. Crawford was credited with another knockdown in the same round when he landed a hard left hand, sending Postol reeling in retreat until his glove touched the canvas.

Crawford didn’t put Postol away. Instead, he cruised to a decision behind a disciplined performance, not really opening up until the last round, not really needing to do more beyond what already was working. Some boxing fans will focus on how impressive it was that Crawford made Postol so ineffective. Other fans will grumble about how much they dislike when it seems as if boxers’ feet move more than their hands do.

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No matter what, Crawford left with the victory, a record of 29-0 with 20 knockouts, and with a clear claim to being the best junior welterweight in the world. The one thing that’s not yet clear is whether this win will get him a fight with Manny Pacquiao, who retired earlier this year to focus on his political career in the Philippines but whose promoter is planning for a possible comeback.

Postol is now 28-1 with 12 KOs.

 

Oscar Valdez Wins World Title with TKO of Matias Rueda

 One way a promoter can spotlight its best up-and-coming fighters is by featuring them on the most important broadcasts. That’s what Top Rank has done with featherweight Oscar Valdez, who this year has gone from contender to titleholder.

This past April, Valdez blasted through former 126-pound beltholder Evgeny Gradovich in just four rounds on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao’s third match with Timothy Bradley. This past Saturday, Valdez earned a belt of his own, picking up a vacant world title by taking out Matias Rueda in just two rounds on the undercard of the Terence Crawford-Viktor Postol pay-per-view.

Valdez’s hand speed and power were evident from the opening minutes, as he landed left hooks to the head and body, wobbled Rueda with a right hand with about 40 seconds to go, and sent Rueda back to his corner bleeding and demoralized.

And then it got even better for Valdez, which of course meant it got much worse for Rueda.

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The barrage continued in the second round, culminating in a body shot that forced Rueda to take a knee. Rueda rose by the count of eight, but there was still more than a minute remaining. Valdez continued to hammer away, finishing his foe off with another left to the body that led to the second knockdown. The referee immediately waved the fight off.

That was a wise and merciful choice. Valdez had landed 35 of 48 punches in the span of just about two minutes in the second round, according to CompuBox, a remarkably 73 percent connect rate. Even more vicious was how Valdez barely missed with power shots in that round; he was 26 of 29, a 90 percent connect rate.

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Valdez is now 20-0 with 18 KOs. He should hope that Top Rank’s recent détente with powerful boxing adviser Al Haymon will lead to matches with some of Haymon’s stable of featherweights, a list that includes Jesus Cuellar, Carl Frampton, Abner Mares, Gary Russell Jr., Leo Santa Cruz and Lee Selby.

There’s also Golden Boy Promotions fighter Joseph Diaz Jr., a young contender who, like Valdez, is a product of the 2012 Olympics. And if there’s nothing available at 126, Valdez said he’s open to challenging the person who held the world title before him: Vasyl Lomachenko, the two-time Olympic gold medalist who just moved up to 130 and captured a world title there.

Rueda suffered his first pro defeat and is now 26-1 with 23 KOs. He knew this fight with Valdez was going to present a big step up in level of opposition. Now he needs to take a step back and regroup.

 

Jose Benavidez Wins Decision Over Game Francisco Santana

The first round between welterweights Jose Benavidez and Francisco Santana saw the two fighters combine to throw 200 punches. It wasn’t going to be an easy night for either of them, but it was going to be a fun fight for us to watch.

Santana was intent on sending out shots until Benavidez made him stop. Benavidez, meanwhile, often allowed himself to stay too long on the ropes, but he also threw out crisp retorts to try to slow Santana down.

It seemed early on as if Benavidez’s power would make a difference. And then it seemed as if Santana’s relentlessness and work to the body was sapping some of Benavidez’s power away. But Benavidez wasn’t breaking down. He dug down, won rounds, picked up points on the scorecards and appeared as if he would be the winner of a close and competitive fight.

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He was indeed triumphant. It’s just that the judges’ decision was wider than expected.

While one judge had a respectable score of 96-94, or six rounds to Benavidez and four for Santana, the other judges had it a questionable 98-92 (eight rounds to two) and an incomprehensible 100-90 shutout.

Benavidez moved to 25-0 with 16 KOs. Afterward, he called out welterweight titleholder Jessie Vargas, who has the same promoter and who is available. Vargas had recently been in negotiations for a unification bout with Kell Brook but couldn’t reach a deal.

Santana fell to 24-5-1 with 12 KOs, His losses have all come against recognizable names: two to Karim Mayfield; one to Jermell Charlo, who won a world title at 154 earlier this year; one to Sadam Ali, who challenged for a world title at 147; and now Benavidez. There is a place in this sport for fighters who don’t belong at the highest level but still entertain. Santana shouldn’t disappear from television screens any time soon.

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Photo Credit // www.boxingscene.com

David Greisman
About the Author:

David Greisman.

David Greisman is an award-winning boxing writer based out of Washington, D.C., who has covered the sport since 2004. He is the senior staff writer and “Fighting Words” columnist for BoxingScene.com and a reporter for The Ring magazine. Greisman is the author of the book “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing.”
Follow on Twitter @fightingwords2

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