What is the most beautiful 11-letter word in boxing? "Unification." For most of the last six decades boxing has suffered under the curse of split championships and in recent years the title has been split into four parts (six if you count the WBA's three belts per weight class). Therefore, rejoicing should ensue when two titlists sign to meet and when they are of the quality of Terence Crawford and Viktor Postol the intensity of that joy increases. Will the fight live up to its pay-per-view status? The answer is literally in the fighters' hands.
Crawford vs. Height: The 5-foot-11 Postol boasts a 73 1/2 inch wingspan, which means he'll enjoy advantages of three inches in height and three-and-a-half inches in reach. Fortunately for Crawford he has met men of similar stature in the recent past and he's done well against them. Crawford's breakout fight came against the 5-foot-11 height and 72-inch reach of Breidis Prescott (W 10) and he followed with wins over Ricky Burns (W 12) and Thomas Dulorme (KO 6), both of whom stand 5-foot-10 and own 70-inch reaches. In all three fights Crawford started deliberately, then picked up steam. It took Crawford five rounds to warm up as he averaged 36.4 per round but from round six on he averaged 50 and out-landed Prescott 86-44 overall and 49-25 power en route to the points win. Burns most closely resembles Postol in style and there it took three rounds to find a new gear (52.7 in the first three, 72.6 the last nine and margins of 186-55 overall and 146-40 power). The same scenario unfolded against Dulorme controlled the first two rounds (55 per round to Crawford's 34.5) and led 50-43 overall after five. But in the sixth Crawford kicked into turbo drive as he scored three knockdowns, out-landed Dulorme 24-3 overall and 21-1 power and scored the sixth round TKO to win the vacant WBO super lightweight title.
Crawford, in his last six fights, landed 7.4 jabs per round (wgt. class avg.: 4.8). He's efficient (52.9 total punches thrown per round) while landing 44.7% of his power punches. Crawford opponents landed just 7.5 total punches per round (wgt. class avg.: 17.3) and 5.4 power shots per round (wgt. class avg.: 12.5). Crawford has a +13.2 rating, #6 among CompuBox Categorical Leaders.
He's a Jab Man: The jab is the epicenter of everything Postol does. In five CompuBox-tracked fights against common foe Hank Lundy, Behzod Nabiev, Selcuk Aydin, Jake Giuriceo and Lucas Matthysse it comprised 54.4% of his total output (as opposed to 41.5% for the typical super lightweight) and 39.7% of his total connects (as opposed to 27.8% for the average 140-pounder). His 7.9 connects per round(38.4 thrown per round) in those fights is well above the 4.8 norm and he does an excellent job of neutralizing his foes' jabs (17.5 thrown/2.8 connects per round, 16% accuracy) Can he shut down Crawford's jab (7.4 landed per round). Postol avg'd 70.4 total punches thrown per round, well above the wgt. class avg. Postol's best jabbing performance came against Aydin (56.5 thrown/14.5 connects per round) but against Matthysse is was a far lesser factor numerically (26.7 thrown/3.6 connects per round, 14%). Still, it helped set the table for what occurred in the final three rounds as he out-landed the Argentine 42-16 overall and 34-12 power en route to the stunning 10th round TKO. If Postol is to beat Crawford, the jab must be working. If not, he's doomed.
Prediction: Crawford, who will likely fight lefty to neutralize Postol's jab, will take his time in the first three rounds, after which he'll find his range and take the fight to the Russian with his peerless versatility. If Crawford doesn't score the late-round TKO, he'll win -- and unify two belts -- via fairly comfortable decision.