HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney break down Terence Crawford's dominant win over Felix Diaz at Madison Square Garden and what it will take for an opponent to challenge the 140-pound champ. Plus, they explore whether Ray Beltran's one-punch KO of Johnathan Maicelo is the new frontrunner for Knockout of the Year.
Watch highlights from Terence Crawford's win by TKO in Round 10 over Felix Diaz.
Photos: Ed Mulholland
By Kieran Mulvaney
NEW YORK -- There’s being able to fight. And there’s being able to fight Terence Crawford. Not for the first time, an opponent entered the ring against the junior welterweight champion with a decent reputation and a solid résumé, only to exit it after suffering a shellacking at the fists of the marvelously talented boxer from Omaha, Nebraska.
Felix Diaz has an Olympic gold medal and began the evening having suffered a lone, disputed defeat in an eight-year professional career. He ended it as Crawford’s chew toy, a plaything being batted helplessly around the ring until his trainer Joel Diaz mercifully withdrew him from the firing line at the end of round 10 in the main event at Madison Square Garden.
Diaz (19-2, 9 KOs) is something of an unconventional stylist, his relatively short frame leading him to eschew the jab and focus on power punches. He is nominally a southpaw, but he fires his punches from a variety of angles with his body squared up to his opponent, making any kind of stance difficult to discern. Crawford is officially an orthodox boxer, but he switches between his right and left hands at will; he began this contest left-handed and continued all the way through. When HBO’s Max Kellerman asked him why he did so, he smiled and said, “Because I wanted to. I do what I want in there.”
The Diaz approach requires him to be close to his foe. Crawford accordingly spent the first round mostly keeping him at distance, peppering him with a tap-tap-tapping right hand jab. Diaz began swinging for the fences late in that round and again in the second, actually landing a right hand in that second frame that snapped back Crawford’s head and might just have earned the Dominican the round. Indeed, it did so on the score card of one judge, Julie Lederman; it was the only round that any of the three ringside officials saw in Diaz’s favor. But although that right hand was eye-catching, it did little to disrupt Crawford (31-0, 22 KOs), who returned fire with a sharp combination at the bell and stood face to face with his opponent, smiling, as the round ended.
Diaz’s mauling offense meant the fight had its ugly phases early on, but already Crawford was beginning to time his onward rushes and dial in his combinations. A left uppercut that landed through Diaz’s high guard near the end of the third was followed swiftly by another, and it was clear that Crawford had found what would be his money punch. By the fifth, Crawford was clearly dialed in, his task made increasingly easy by the fact that the Diaz right eye was swelling shut. Diaz stalked forward, trying to close the distance; Crawford glided away, keeping him at range.
The pace slowed over six, seven and eight as Crawford relaxed, comfortable in the knowledge that there was nothing now that Diaz could do to him. He was clowning him, one moment beckoning Diaz on, the next shaking his head as Diaz urged him to come closer. At one point, Crawford stuck out his tongue at his opponent, and at another, he tap-tap-tapped on Diaz’s head like an annoying older brother. The Dominican did have a brief moment when an overly-relaxed Crawford walked into a sweeping left in the seventh, which prompted Diaz to launch an attack, but Crawford responded with a series of flurries of his own.
A big sweeping left from Crawford at the beginning of the ninth marked the beginning of the end. Diaz now was retreating, bouncing forward only occasionally, only to be met by incoming Crawford artillery. Crawford backed him into the corner, landed two big lefts and anther uppercut, and at the end of that round both the Olympian’s eyes were now all but closed. The ringside physicians examined him during the minute’s break, and appeared to be considering ending the fight; they allowed it to continue, but Diaz might have wished they hadn’t. He tried his best, but whenever he threw punches, Crawford threw more in return, and the American’s landed with greater authority, including a sequence that rocked Diaz and all but had him out on his feet at the end of the tenth, a series of blows that brought about the stoppage.
The co-main event was short and explosive, and its ending was sudden and concussive. Lightweight Jonathan Maicelo (25-3, 12 KOs) wasted no time showing aggressive intent toward veteran Ray Beltran (33-7-1, 21 KOs), and had him on the canvas halfway through the first round. Beltran protested that the blow that had knocked him backward was in fact a head butt, and replays bore him out. Indeed, seconds after the action resumed, referee David Fields escorted Maicelo to a neutral corner so that ringside physicians could examine a cut that the butt had opened up on the Peruvian’s scalp line.
Beltran ended the round with a harbinger of a hook, following up with a combination that began before and ended after the bell and that staggered Maicelo. Maicelo came storming out of the gates at the start of round 3, cracking Beltran with a three-punch combination and landing consecutive right hands that landed flush. Beltran withstood them, pivoted, and then landed a short left hand on the chin that knocked Maicelo instantly unconscious, his head thudding loudly into the canvas as he fell. Fields waved off the contest without a count. The time was 1:25 of round 2.
Watch a recap of the weigh-in for Terence "Bud" Crawford vs. Felix Diaz ahead of tomorrow's fight.
Crawford vs. Diaz happens Saturday, May 20 live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:15pm ET/PT.
Photos: Ed Mulholland
By Kieran Mulvaney
NEW YORK -- At first glance, there isn’t much, beyond their shared their profession, that Gennady Golovkin and Terence Crawford would appear to have in common: not their nationalities, nor their upbringings, nor even their fighting styles. But scratch beneath the surface, and the similarities are there.
Quiet and respectful to interlocutors outside the ring, both flip switches and become stone cold destroyers when they step between the ropes. Neither appreciates the kind of pre-fight smack talk from opponents that they feel crosses into disrespect, not just of them but of boxing itself. When middleweight contender Curtis Stevens took to social media to post an image of he and some friends standing with a casket they had made for Golovkin, the Kazakh champion responded with a prolonged pummeling of his American foe, closing with an angry postfight exhortation to the beaten opponent – and the world at large – that “you must respect box.” After calling out Crawford and promising to take the Nebraskan’s junior welterweight title back to Canada, Dierry Jean received a 10-round beating punctuated by Crawford yelling at him, “Did you get what you’re looking for?”
But their greatest commonality is that both Golovkin and Crawford are extremely good at their job – so much so, in fact, that they have at times appeared to be too good for their own good. Golovkin has spent the past several years bludgeoning one overmatched foe after another while waiting for a meaningful challenge; he finally received that challenge in March, in the form of Daniel Jacobs, and his reward at overcoming the New Yorker is the matchup he has long coveted: a blockbuster showdown with Canelo Alvarez, which will take place on September 16 on HBO PPV.
Somewhat like Golovkin, Crawford has been going through the gears, taking on a succession of opponents who, through no fault of his own, have been no match for him. For David Lemieux, Martin Murray or Matthew Macklin, substitute Ray Beltran, Hank Lundy, or John Molina. But Golovkin’s plaintive call for a Canelo clash has now been answered; Crawford is more reticent about naming his would-be big-name foil, but his promoter has been more forthcoming. Should Crawford overcome Felix Diaz on Saturday (HBO World Championship Boxing, 10:15 PM ET/PT), and perhaps claim the last remaining belt in his division from Julius Indongo, then the reward that may very well await him, the bauble that has been dangled in front of him teasingly for over a year now, is Manny Pacquiao.
Step one, however, is Diaz – and in Saturday’s contest there could conceivably be another parallel with Golovkin. Like Daniel Jacobs before his encounter with the Kazakh in the same Madison Square Garden ring in which Crawford and Diaz will lock horns, the Dominican is an amateur standout with one defeat and a reputation as a tough and skillful fighter. The prevailing narrative surrounding Crawford-Diaz, as it was for Golovkin-Jacobs, is that the challenger is likely to provide a stern test before being overcome. In the event, Jacobs pushed Golovkin farther and harder than anyone had done before; Diaz will be aiming to do that and more – not just exposing vulnerabilities in Crawford but upsetting the apple cart entirely and taking the American’s place in the Pacquiao stakes. Crawford may be looking ahead to the prospect of the biggest opportunity of his career, but for Diaz, that opportunity comes this Saturday, and he does not intend to blow it.
Weights from New York:
Terence Crawford 139.2 pounds | Felix Diaz 139.4 pounds
Ray Beltran 134.6 pounds | Jonathan Maicelo 134.8 pounds
Watch the Terence Crawford vs. Felix Diaz official weigh-in livestream from Madison Square Garden beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT.
Crawford vs. Diaz happens Saturday, May 20 live on HBO beginning at 10:15 p.m. ET/PT.
HBO Boxing Insider Kieran Mulvaney goes one on one with Terence Crawford at his media workout in New York City on Wednesday, May 17.
Crawford vs. Felix Diaz happens Saturday, May 20 live on HBO beginning at 10:15 p.m. ET/PT.
HBO Boxing Insider Kieran Mulvaney goes one on one with Felix Diaz during his media workout in New York City on Wednesday, May 17.
Terence Crawford vs. Diaz happens Saturday, May 20 live on HBO beginning at 10:15 p.m. ET/PT.