Photos: Will Hart
By Kieran Mulvaney
With a blistering, dominant performance that mixed superlative boxing skills with crunching power, Terence Crawford knocked out Dierry Jean on Saturday night and quite possibly punched his way into an April clash with Manny Pacquiao. Or, perhaps, he punched his way out of it; if Pacquiao, as he claims, is interested in just one more fight before retiring to become a senator in the Philippines, he could be forgiven for deciding he wanted a much easier ride into the sunset.
Jean came to fight, but in his second world title challenge he simply had no answer for Crawford’s extensive arsenal, which the Omaha native deployed in front of a raucous hometown crowd in typical style. He stalked patiently when he needed to, watching and waiting for an opportunity to strike and then, once that opportunity arose, unleashed furious assault upon furious assault, culminating in a barrage that sent Jean sagging into the ropes, where referee Tony Weeks rescued him after 2:30 of the tenth round.
Jean began brightly enough, seeking to land a long lead right as Crawford watched him warily in the first round. But then, at the very end of the first frame, Crawford – who switches seamlessly from orthodox to southpaw at will – caught him with a right hook and dropped him just before the bell. Undeterred, Jean still sought to land overhand rights in the second, but Crawford studied him with the dead eyes of an assassin, and another hook at the end of the frame had Jean once more on wobbly legs.
In the third, Crawford began stepping forward with his stiff jab and Jean (29-1, 20 KOs) struggled to cope. Unable to outbox his foe, he could not attack him easily either, for fear of the counters that would come his way. By the fourth, Crawford’s confidence was palpable, as he sashayed and shimmied while walking down his man, punctuating the fun with a sharp straight left that landed flush and elicited a roar from the 11,020 in attendance.
A furious assault in the fifth had Jean struggling to hang on, and though he made it out of that round, he was on the receiving end of another beating in the sixth. At the end of that round, Crawford (27-0, 19 KOs) smirked at him, knowing he had him where he wanted him. By the ninth, the Nebraskan had seemingly decided to go for the finish, and by opening up his offense he enabled Jean to crack him with his best two punches of the night in the form of two sharp right hands. But it also presaged the beginning of the end for the Haitian-Canadian. A left, right and left sent Jean to the canvas for a second time, although Jean protested correctly (and Crawford appeared to acknowledge) that the final blow, delivered as Jean fell, was behind the head.
It was all over in the tenth, Crawford chasing Jean around the ring and throwing subtlety out the window as he sought to finish his prey, which he did with a three-punch combination that almost sent Jean out of the ring and prompted Weeks’ intervention.
The two men threw barbs at each other afterward, suggesting that they hadn’t quite knocked all the fight out of one another in the ring.
“Crawford kept hitting me behind the head, which I thought was unfair,” Jean complained. As for a possible match between his conqueror and Pacquiao, Jean, who has sparred with the Filipino, offered that, “Pacquiao is faster and hits harder.”
“I did whatever I wanted to do,” said Crawford, and the CompuBox statistics backed him up. The champion landed 169 total punches out of 533 thrown, and an impressive 40 percent of his power shots. Over the last three rounds, he outlanded his opponent 59 to 9. “He said he had punching power,” Crawford sniffed. “He had none. Nothing he did hurt me. I was able to move him around.”
As for the prospect of a Crawford-Pacquiao matchup, promoter Bob Arum said that “we have to wait for Manny to review the tapes first. And then we have to wait for the results of the November 7 fight [between former and possible future Pacquiao opponents Tim Bradley and Brandon Rios] too.”
But, he acknowledged, “it would be a hell of a fight.”