Dispatching Dulorme, Crawford Picks Up Right Where He Left Off

Photos: Will Hart

By Nat Gottlieb

Terence Crawford had a sensational year in 2014, grabbing a world lightweight title on Ricky Burns’ home turf in Scotland and winning two tough title defenses on his way to receiving Fighter of the Year honors. In 2015, he's picking up right where he left off, with an impressive performance against another much-ballyhooed young contender, Puerto Rican Thomas Dulorme.

While Crawford was widely considered the more skilled boxer, there were questions about whether the 27-year-old Nebraskan, who was moving up from lightweight to the 140-pound division to take on Dulorme, could continue his dominance in the bigger weight class.

Questions asked. Questions answered. Emphatically.

Fighting with remarkable poise and focus, Crawford (26-0, 18 KOs), seemed to be measuring and sizing up Dulorme through the first five rounds. Then, in his corner before the sixth, Crawford’s trainer Brian McIntyre told him “to step it up.” And like a push-button machine, Crawford did just that.

Becoming suddenly aggressive, Crawford let his hands fly with bad intentions, knocking down Dulorme with a huge right hand just 28 seconds into the round. After that, with Dulorme fighting on shaky legs, the outcome of the fight seemed to be academic. Twice more Crawford sent the Puerto Rican plunging to the canvas before referee Rafael Ramos called the fight at 1:51 of the round.

The victory was of major importance to the rising star, both for him and the division. In dispatching Dulorme, Crawford put himself in line for several big fights in the loaded junior welterweight division, including a possible matchup against the participants of the second fight in the split-site double header between sluggers Ruslan Provodnikov and Lucas Matthysse. 

Dulorme (22-2, 14 KOs), once hyped as the next great Puerto Rican fighter until he was knocked out by Argentine slugger Luis Carlos Abregu in 2012, had been solidly on the comeback trail. Crawford knocked him off the rails, and it's unlikely he'll fully recover his stature.

The super-patient Crawford seemed content in the early going to let Dulorme play the aggressor while he measured and studied him like a cat getting ready to pounce. Dulorme outworked Crawford, perhaps winning two of the first four rounds just on aggression, but his punches were mostly picked off by Crawford's gloves or dodged with superb body and head movement reminiscent of a young Floyd Mayweather. And then Crawford turned it on.

“My corner told me to pick it up,” Crawford told HBO’s Max Kellerman after the fight. “I felt bigger and stronger at 140 pounds.”

The ease with which Crawford dispatched Dulorme, who was coming down from welterweight and appeared to be the bigger man in the ring, was stunning to watch. Through five rounds Crawford didn’t waste a punch or take one of any significance. But it will be interesting going forward to see how Crawford deals with some of the biggest punchers in the division, including Matthysse and Provodnikov. He has the potential to become a pound-for-pound contender, but he has his work cut out for him before he can stake claim to that label. 

Watch: Fighters Weigh in Ahead of Saturday's Action

Everybody’s Under The 140-Pound Limit

Matthysse-Provodnikov Photos: Ed Mulholland | Crawford-Dulorme Photos: Will Hart

By Eric Raskin

The best boxing matches are typically the ones that provide the most drama. The best boxing weigh-ins are typically the ones that provide the least drama. All you can hope for is that the fighters make weight and avoid getting into an impromptu brawl that risks scuttling the contest. Going by those criteria, the weigh-ins for this Saturday night’s HBO split-side doubleheader were both smashing successes.

Lucas Matthysse, Ruslan Provodnikov, Terence Crawford, and Thomas Dulorme all weighed in without incident, coming in under the 140-pound limit on their first attempts. At Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York, Matthysse tipped the scales at 139, followed by Provodnikov at 139.5. In Arlington, Texas, Dulorme checked in at 139.2, followed by Crawford at 139.8. This is former lightweight titleholder Crawford’s first fight as a junior welterweight and he looked positively ripped, making you wonder where he was finding an additional five pounds to cut just five months ago.

While the actual making of weight for Crawford-Dulorme was drama-free, their engagement in the traditional stare-down moments later packed plenty of intensity. They went nose to nose for a solid minute, and when underdog Dulorme’s promoter Gary Shaw tried to get the fighters to face the audience and the bank of cameras to pose for photos, both pugilists refused to break their gaze. Instead they started talking trash (inaudibly for the viewing audience, sadly, and presumably in different languages) while their eyes remained locked on each other until members of their teams finally pulled them apart with no formal fighting poses ever assumed.

“I’m ready, this is my year,” Dulorme said through an interpreter. “2015 is the Dulorme year, and I’m going to rip him apart tomorrow.”

Crawford was asked about his move up in weight and whether Dulorme appeared bigger than him. “Not at all,” said the reigning Fighter of the Year. “I feel great. I feel physically strong.”

Some 1,500 miles northeast, Provodnikov and Matthysse got along significantly better than their counterparts in Texas. Their stare-down ended after just a few seconds when Provodnikov broke into a smile, with Matthysse flashing his own pearly whites immediately upon seeing his opponent’s.

“I’m focused, I’m determined, I’m ready to go,” Matthysse simply stated.

“I can only say one thing: I’m not going to disappoint any of my fans,” said Provodnikov. “You’ll see everything you expect to see tomorrow.”

Let’s hope so. The weigh-ins both went according to script. If the fights do as well, this will be a memorable night of gloved warfare indeed.

A Son of the Caribbean, Thomas Dulorme Fights for His Place on the Boxing Map

Photo: Will Hart

By Diego Morilla

Among the dozens of shiny little belts being passed around in the world of boxing these days, the true meaning of the title  “world champion” has lost its meaning for many people.

Thomas Dulorme is not one of them.

As a French-speaking native of the island of Saint Martin in his early childhood, and as a resident of Dominican Republic later on, Dulorme developed a strong connection to each of the island-nations where he lived.

But it wasn’t until he found a country of his own to fight for that he came to understand the global nature of his quest for a championship.

“Saint Martin is my origin, the place where I was born, but I lived in Puerto Rico since I was very young, and Puerto Rico has given me everything,” said Dulorme, during a recent telephone interview during the last leg of his training camp in his homeland, adopted or not. “I always represented Puerto Rico, but I love all Latinos.”

Dulorme (22-1, 14 KOs) will have a career-defining chance to represent his people this Saturday April 18th on a HBO Boxing After Dark split-side doubleheader, when he will face lightweight titlist Terence Crawford (25-0, 17 KOs), in what will be Dulorme’s first crack at a world title after being hailed as the next boxing idol to come out of Puerto Rico a few years ago.

Now, Dulorme is in the final stages of a full recovery after being stopped in an early crossroads fight by Argentine challenger Luis Abregu in 2012. But Dulorme has managed to amass a 6-0 winning streak since that fateful night, and the long-awaited title bout is surely a reward for the hard work he has put on since then.

For that, he has recruited a group of similarly globetrotting trainers and advisors to guide him through this challenge, in an effort to minimize the margin of error and to make the most out of an opportunity that many people thought should have come earlier in his career.

“I have a great team for this fight,” said Dulorme, naming people such as Anthony Otero, Felix Pagan Pintor, Oscar “Don Khan” Seary, and the team’s newest addition in Jose Rosa, a former Olympian in Montreal 1976, in what comprises a team that has a combined amount of years of experience in boxing that could easily rival any boxing team in the world. “Some of them give me some great pad work, some others are focusing on correcting mistakes, others are great at hand-wrapping. Each one gives me something different.”

The loss to Abregu, as devastating as it may have been, did leave a few lessons on Dulorme, and learning not to underestimate his opponents appears to be one of them. His new team provide him with just enough combined knowledge to keep him ahead of his challenge, and opens a new chance for him to fulfill his once-limitless promise of becoming the next great Puerto Rican boxing hero.

No stranger to traveling through uncharted territory to get to the promised land, Dulorme believes his chance to finally shine on the big stage is near.

“I think I am closer now,” said Dulorme, when asked about his dream of becoming the new face of the illustrious Puerto Rican boxing tradition. “I think that if I win on Saturday I will be on track to be a great champion and get the big fights. I only have to win on Saturday and remain focused looking ahead, and continue winning.”

That path, however, is not uncharted territory for Dulorme. As an accomplished amateur fighter who started boxing when he was little more than a toddler, Dulorme has won the Puerto Rico Golden Gloves, Saint Martin Golden Gloves and Dominican Republic Golden Gloves, winning 142 amateur fights and losing only 2 of them in the process.

Continuing his winning streak in this stage of his career will require him to summon all of that mojo and then some. And he has managed to find that inspiration in a particularly unnerving situation.

“He did say a few disrespectful comments about us Latinos and I got a bit angry about that,” said Dulorme about his public dispute with Crawford’s trainer, Brian “BoMac” McIntire, who made a few seemingly inappropriate comments about Latinos. “It is nothing personal. But I still support and defend my people.”

One can only assume that Crawford has his own personal brand of pride to defend as well. But Dulorme believes this will only add pressure to his opponent, not to him.

“I think he is fighting before his own crowd, and they may be thinking that he has to look good, or be thinking on how to give a good impression. I am not thinking about that. I am thinking about making weight, staying focused and winning the fight,” said Dulorme about the task at hand, without forgetting that the attention of the boxing world will be divided between his bout and the Matthysse-Provodnikov bout that will follow from a different location.

“We are four great fighters in two terrific fights this Saturday, and they are both on HBO. I believe every boxing fan should be watching those great fights.” 

CompuBox: Crawford vs. Dulorme

Terence Crawford's rise from obscurity has been nothing short of startling and illuminating. Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, Crawford toiled in virtual anonymity until March 2013, when he was summoned as a late sub for then-140-pound titlist Khabib Allakhverdiev to fight Breidis Prescott. After decisively out-pointing Prescott, Crawford rolled off five more wins that included a WBO lightweight title and a 2014 campaign that many thought was worthy of Fighter of the Year status.

Now, the "Hunter" is seeking new prey in a new weight class. The one-time sub for a junior welterweight titlist is fighting for a vacant belt at 140 against once-beaten and one-time super prospect Thomas Dulorme. Will this story come full circle? We'll see.

Statistical factors that may determine the outcome include:

Crawford's Many Sides: During his run Crawford has proved himself to be, arguably, the most versatile fighter in the sport. Not only can he switch-hit with fluidity and equal effectiveness, each fight appears to reveal a new wrinkle. Against Sidney Siqueira Crawford was a volume puncher (81 per round) that featured an excellent body attack (40 body connects among 101 landed power shots). In beating Prescott he threw far less (43.2 punches per round) and he boxed more than he slugged (286 jabs, 146 power shots) but he was very efficient, especially in his power punching as he boasted a 44%-19% bulge). As in the Presoctt fight, Crawford proved he could out-box a taller man in Ricky Burns. There, he upped his punch rate to 67.6 per round, used a balanced attack (422 jabs, 389 power shots) and produced lopsided numbers (213-76 overall, 52-27 jabs, 161-49 power). Against Alejandro Sanabria Crawford featured an almost perfectly balanced offense (112 jabs, 121 power shots) but was extremely accurate (36% overall, 50% power) and defensively responsible (23% overall, 27% power) and showed off one-punch explosiveness as a hook dropped Sanabria in the opening moments of the sixth.

Against Yuriorkis Gamboa, Crawford proved he can come back from a slow start and show off a previous untapped wild side in producing the knockout. From round five onward he out-landed Gamboa 116-41 overall and 80-38 power and was extremely efficient in his power percentages (78%, 53%, 71%, 73% and 67%).

During his most recent victory over Raymundo Beltran, Crawford showcased his extraordinary jab, which was also effective against Andrey Klimov (36.5 thrown/8.8 connects per round). The Beltran numbers were eye-popping: His 12.5 connects per round more than doubled the 5.1 lightweight average and he reached double-digit connects in eight of the 12 rounds, including a stretch of 20, 18 and 18 in rounds four through six and finished the fight with four more in rounds 9-12. That table-setter allowed Crawford to post massive connect gaps (243-96 overall, 150-23 jabs, 93-73 power) and impressive accuracy across all phases (38% overall, 34% jabs, 46% power). The only cause for pause -- Beltran landed 36% of his power shots, a higher figure than in other bouts.  Crawford's put up good numbers in his last 4 fights. He landed 46% of his power punches (wgt. class avg.: 36%). He also landed 8 jabs per round (wgt. class avg.: 5)

The Comeback Trail: Dulorme has won six straight since his disastrous seventh round TKO loss to Luis Abregu in October 2012, a fight that saw the prospect dropped twice and hammered consistently (121-54 overall, 103-29 power while tasting 46% of Abregu's power shots). While Dulorme has won, he hasn't shown the same explosiveness that marked his rise to prominence. He has scored two KOs in those six fights as compared to the 12 KOs he scored in 16 fights before facing the Argentine.

In six pre-Abregu fights Dulorme averaged 60.5 punches per round, averaged 27.2 thrown jabs and 5.7 jab connects per round and landed 46% of his hooks, crosses and uppercuts while his opponents averaged 35.8 punches per round, landed 1.6 of their 11.9 jabs per round and connected on 23% overall, 13% jabs and 28% power. Conversely, in three CompuBox-tracked post-Abregu fights the numbers have dropped precipitously. Dulorme's work rate plunged to 39.5 per round to his opponents' 34.8. He has landed 3.9 jabs and thrown 18.8 jabs per round to his foes' 2.4 and 13.8 and the accuracy gaps in Dulorme's favor have shrunk to 30%-25% overall, 21%-18% jabs and 38%-30% power.

Not only has he become a more reluctant fighter offensively, he has shown signs of fatigue late in bouts. Against Francisco Figueroa Dulorme started well as he averaged 51.8 punches per round in rounds 2-5 and out-landed Figueroa 48-21 overall and 48-20 power in that stretch. But in rounds six and seven Dulorme's output dipped to 47 and 34 respectively (40.5 per round) and out-landed Figueroa 16-9 overall and 13-8 power before scoring the TKO in the eighth.

Karim Mayfield's ugly style induced a mauling, slow-paced fight (30.8 per round for Dulorme, 28.4 for Mayfield) that included underwhelming accuracy (27%-21% Dulorme overall, 22%-20% Mayfield jabs, 36%-21% Dulorme power). Dulorme established a lead in the first six rounds by prevailing 47-28 overall and 31-20 power. But in round seven Mayfield led 11-8 in total connects while Dulorme's work rate dropped from 35 punches to 26. In fact, in three of the final four rounds Dulorme's output was below 30 (26 in the seventh, 27 in the ninth and 24 in the 10th) while Mayfield's rose from 31 in the sixth to 33, 35, 39 and 29 in the final four rounds. Dulorme hung on to lead 83-61 overall, 34-25 jabs and 49-36 power, but he failed to put the hammer down when he could have.

Dulorme's most recent fight with Hank Lundy was a tale of two halves. Dulorme kicked off the fight with a first-round knockdown and a first half that saw him build bulges of 74-66 overall and averaging 48.6 punches per round to Lundy's 42.2. But the fight turned in the sixth round and from that point forward his output dropped to 40.8 per round while Lundy's surged to 48 and saw Lundy prevail 85-80 in total connects, thanks largely to a 10th round in which Lundy out-threw Dulorme 62-37 in thrown punches and out-land him 25-17 overall. In the end, Dulorme clung to a slim 152-151 lead in total connects, which accurately projected the split decision that would follow.

Needless to say, this habit of fading late in fights could be disastrous against a multi-faceted yet consistently excellent fighter in Crawford.

Prediction: Crawford is a man on the rise while Dulorme, while still winning, is not the same fighter who caused so much excitement early in his career. Yes, Dulorme is the naturally bigger guy (he's had seven fights where he's weighed 145 or more while Crawford's career high was 142 against Andre Gorges in April 2012) but the Nebraskan's talent level has proven to be elite while Dulorme has yet to reach that plateau. Crawford by late-round TKO.

Matthysse and Provodnikov Face Off in Sure-Fire Fight of the Year Candidate

Lucas Matthysse vs. Ruslan Provodnikov Photos: Tom Hogan | Ed Mulholland

Lucas Matthysse vs. Ruslan Provodnikov
Photos: Tom Hogan | Ed Mulholland

By Hamilton Nolan

The term "Fight of the Year" is misleading. For fans of boxing, the sweet science, the thinking man's chess, Fight of the Year would be the most flawless expression of skill, of split-second decision-making under pressure, of defensive mastery and the implementation of strategy and the brilliance that emerges when a man is at the very pinnacle of his craft. The fight of the year would be a thing of beauty – were we all talking about the same thing.

That is not, in practice, what the Fight of the Year is. What ends up being enshrined as Fight of the Year is, more commonly, the most violent fight of the year. Strategic jousts between canny competitors do not usually win this particular crown. When the pundits and broadcasters and old know-it-alls start talking about the Fight of the Year candidates, they reel off a reliable list of the contests that were both evenly matched, and very, very bloody. To the extent that casual boxing fans watch boxing not for science, but for smashing, the popular pick for Fight of the Year often conforms to their preferences. Defense makes great boxing matches. But two determined men with good chins and not so good defense standing toe to toe makes for a Fight of the Year.

Which brings us to the matchup between Lucas Matthysse (36-3, 34 KOs) and Ruslan Provodnikov (24-3, 17 KOs). Far be it from me to insinuate that either of these fine men is more concerned with putting his fist through an opponent's cheek than he is with perfecting the art of the shoulder roll defense. That said, this is widely expected to be a very strong Fight of the Year candidate. It is not difficult to figure out why. Ruslan Provodnikov's fighting style is to stay small, move forward constantly, and position himself for the sort of left hook that leaves his body twisting off its axis and seems capable of launching a man's head into the sixth or seventh row of seats. Provodnikov is both extremely deliberate and extremely single-minded in his pursuit of knockouts. He is the opposite of a volume puncher. He stalks, and then he smashes. If he succeeds in catching his prey, he wins. If his prey is nimble enough to escape him without being smashed, as Tim Bradley and (arguably) Chris Algieri were, he loses. This is his nature, and it does not change.

Lucas Matthysse's fighting style bears a certain resemblance to Provodnikov's, at least in temperament. Matthysse, too, comes forward and looks for knockout shots. But he is, if not exactly slick, a bit more of conventional boxer than Provodnikov, throwing combinations, and jabs, and things of that nature. What sets Matthysse apart is his absolutely lethal punching power. He belongs to that small and special class of fighters who are able to make you wince looking at a punch they missed, in contemplation of the carnage that would have resulted had it landed. Matthysse is certainly the deadliest puncher in his division, and one of the hardest pound-for-pound punchers in all of boxing. He has left a trail of bodies across America in the past five years. Even those who were able to defeat him, like Devon Alexander and Danny Garcia, probably would not welcome a rematch.

And so, with Provodnikov meeting Matthysse, we have two men who come only to kill. The last matchup that was this likely to produce nonstop action was Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado (previously a Fight of the Year winner), and this fight promises to be even better, since Matthysse and Provodnikov are better boxers than either Rios or Alvarado, who are both flat-footed sluggers. The two men will try to knock each other's faces off. They know no other way. We know that Provodnikov will push forward, and look to set up one big blow. And we can say with a fair level of confidence that Matthysse will catch him with sickening, vicious combos to the body and head while he is doing so. Matthysse is the more complete fighter, and the more active puncher, and possesses a slight edge in power. The fight, though sure to be a near-death experience, is his to lose. As Danny Garcia proved, though, Matthysse can be hurt as well. A single well placed left hook by Provodnikov could give him a win, just like that. It's two very strong grizzly bears, dancing on a razor's edge. Fun.

***

On the uncommonly good undercard, lightweight champ Terence Crawford (25-0, 17 KOs) faces Thomas Dulorme (22-1, 14 KOs). In Crawford, we have a legitimate champion, a complete and polished fighter, only a step or two from placing himself solidly in the midst of the pound-for-pound lists. In Dulorme, we have one of the world's most freakishly talented young fighters—his hand speed and power are both world class—struggling to prove that he belongs in the championship ranks, having completed his ladder of comeback fights after a devastating loss to Luis Carlos Abregu in 2012. Dulorme has yet to mold his gifts into a total package, as Crawford has. He may find that his ladder to the top still has a few rungs yet to go.

WATCH: Fight Highlights - Lemieux vs. Rosado

Dulorme Hangs on for a Split Decision Victory

Photo: Will Hart

 

By Hamilton Nolan

At the age of 24, Thomas Dulorme (22-1) is one of the purest young talents in all of the boxing world. He has the eye-blink hand speed, two-fisted power, and athleticism that are the ingredients of A-list boxing stardom. Then again, he’s 24. And it shows. He has not quite been able to pull all of his talents together into the sort of directed, concentrated package that would actually make him an A-list boxing star. And in 2012, Luis Carlos Abregu, a far more polished fighter, TKOed Dulorme (for his only loss) in a demonstration of veteran skill overcoming youthful raw energy.

Hank Lundy (25-4) counts as a crafty veteran too by this point in his career, though one that combines his slickness and economy of motion with a notable streak of aggression. Dulorme’s jab and right hand are completely straight, twin bolt guns, hard and direct; Lundy bends constantly at the waist, throwing hooks and overhands and uppercuts, moving on many more planes of motion. Dulorme dropped Lundy in the first round with a right hand to the top of his head, and managed to combine his straight-ahead power with measured defense. By the second half of the fight, Lundy had begun to time Dulorme’s speed, and began walking him down--chasing him, almost--with huge overhands that mostly missed. After a while, the two fell into a pattern: Lundy moving forward, stalking, throwing bombs, rarely connecting, and very occasionally eating a right hand counter. Dulorme clearly fell victim to fatigue, and someone tuning in late in the fight could have been forgiven for not knowing that Dulorme was, in fact, the far scarier puncher of the two, when he managed to punch.

In the end, Dulorme pulled out a split decision, and a fair one. He still needs work. He is talented, and fearsome, but predictable, with a toolbox that does not seem to hold too many different tools. Forgiveable, for a young fighter. With a little work, he may be the next Amir Khan.