By Kieran Mulvaney
Brian McIntyre is growing a little tired hearing about Viktor Postol’s jab. So too is Terence Crawford, the man McIntyre trains, who will be facing Postol at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on HBO PPV on Saturday night.
“You know what? I’m going to be honest with you,” McIntyre told a group of reporters on Thursday morning at the MGM. “Everything everyone talks about that Postol does that might be a hindrance to Terence, it’s just throwing fuel on the fire. In his mind, he wants to show that he has the better jab – which I believe he does. He can jab from both sides. Can Postol jab from both sides? No.”
That comment refers to Crawford’s famous ability to switch from fighting right-handed to left-handed and back again during the course of a fight; but McIntyre suspects his boxer is most likely to use one stance more than the other on Saturday night
“[Hank] Lundy turned [southpaw] on Postol [in March 2013], and he struggled with him. Don’t be surprised if Terence switches early, or comes out southpaw,” he predicted.
Defeat to Postol would of course upset the best laid plans, but McIntyre feels – and would likely find plenty of support for the notion – that his man is, at worst, one of the very best Americans in professional boxing right now.
“I really believe in my heart, he’s number 1, or number 2 next to Andre Ward,” he said. “Ward’s accomplished a lot of things in boxing: Olympic gold medalist, cleaned out his division, won the Super Six. You can’t ask for a better person to stand next to and compare yourself to.”
Ward, however, is closer to the peak of his career; Crawford, for all that he has achieved in the three years since catching the sport’s attention with a win over Breidis Prescott across the street at the Mandalay Bay, is still on an upward curve. As a consequence, McIntyre predicts, there will come a time, perhaps soon, when – particularly given the relative paucity of homegrown talent at the top of boxing’s ranks these days – the Omaha native will be the sport’s domestic standard bearer.
“He accepts the role” of being the next American boxing star, McIntyre said. “And I like the way he’s grasping on to it, because you can see the change in his training. He’s excelled in this camp. He’s pushed the coaches. He’s always pushed us, but he’s actually pushed us a little more.”
Anyone who has spoken with Crawford will appreciate that, unlike the outgoing and garrulous McIntyre, the boxer is calmness personified, polite but monotone in his speech, rarely talking smack and never overreacting to the prospect of future success. It’s an outward expression, said McIntyre, of a naturally grounded persona, one that benefits from his being surrounded by a team that has been with him since he was very young.
“Don’t think about it, just do it,” as McIntyre explained the philosophy. “Be relaxed at all times, be professional at all times, inside the ring and outside the ring. That helps with your demeanor, your character, and then you hope that the American fans can start grasping on to Terence. He doesn’t go out there and say, ‘Look at me, I’m a black American star.’ He just takes care of his business, takes care of his family, takes care of his gym, is a community activist, just lives his life.
“We prepare ourselves for days like this. The success Terence is having now, we’ve been preparing for since he was 12 years old. What we did, prepared him for what he’s doing right now.”