A Star is Born in Omaha
Omaha waited for 42 years to see another world title boxing fight. It was worth the wait.
Pride of Omaha
Terrence Crawford stopped the previously unbeaten two division champion Yuriorkis Gamboa in the 9th round to retain his WBO Lightweight title in front of 10,493 paying fans at the Century Link Center in Omaha, Nebraska USA.
It was the perfect homecoming for Omaha’s pride who fought in his hometown for the first time in his professional boxing career. Three months ago, Crawford had traveled all the way to Glasgow, Scotland to take away the belt from Ricky Burns. After winning the title, Crawford told his promoter Bob Arum that he wanted to fight next in his home town of Omaha, Nebraska. Arum obliged, because he believed that Crawford could become a star in Nebraska. He was right.
A Star is Born
Electricity filled the Century Link Center as Crawford entered the ring. Omaha last saw a world title fight on May 25, 1972, when Heavyweight champion Joe Frazier knocked out Omaha’s Ron Stander in five rounds. But there would be no heartbreaks this time for the hometown crowd as Crawford delivered a performance of a lifetime which might have created a new boxing star in America.
Most experts predicted a chess match between these two unbeaten boxing stars who coincidentally had the same 23-0 record with 16 KOs. But it was obvious from the beginning that Crawford didn’t just want to win, he wanted to make a statement.
Top Rank Vice President Carl Moretti later said that “what was thought to be a tactical fight turned out to be a tactical brawl.”
It was Yuriorkis Gamboa who came out of the gates fast. Sensing that he would be having a hard time fighting the taller and longer Crawford from a distance, Gamboa threw caution to the wind right from the very start by sacrificing defense to land his combinations. Gamboa was relatively successful as he appeared to win three of the first four rounds with his aggression and determination.
But Crawford, who said he was feeling out Gamboa’s power in the first couple of rounds, never panicked made the adjustment by switching to southpaw in the third round. Gamboa was still able to pepper him with head and body shots but it appeared that Crawford had started to turn the tide to his favor.
In the fifth, Crawford finally controlled the tempo of the bout and knocked down Gamboa with a clean right hand. Gamboa was visibly hurt, but he immediately got up and continued. But his legs were rubbery and his knees buckled every time the champion hit him with clean blows. Gamboa survived the round, but that was just the beginning.
It was pretty much Crawford from there as Gamboa was never really able to recover his bearings after the first knockdown. The former Olympic gold medalist looked like a fighter simply going through the motions after round five. Then Crawford dropped him again with a counter right in round eight, but this time Gamboa was already taking a lot of punishment as Crawford had obliged to brawl.
But early in the ninth round, a badly beaten Gamboa mustered enough courage to hurt and back up Crawford. But instead of folding, Crawford pummeled him with a left to the chin that dropped Gamboa for the third time in the bout. Again, Gamboa rose to his feet but he looked done. Crawford ended Gamboa’s night with a right uppercut that sent him sprawling to the canvass, causing referee Genaro Rodriguez to wave off the bout at the 2:53 mark of round nine.
The Sky’s the Limit
With his sensational victory, which ESPN”s Dan Rafael called the “fight of the year so far in 2014”, sky’s the limit for Crawford. The dilemma now for Omaha’s pride is whether he’ll remain in the 135 lbs division where he is a sure star or if he’ll move up to junior welterweight where big money fights are available.
Top Rank’s Bob Arum said that with Crawford, he has a “special guy” because he is a “technical fighter who can slug it out.” Arum credited Crawford for “fighting intelligently.” Arum even hinted at the possibility of pitting Crawford against someone like Manny Pacquiao next year. He said that “it’s possible” and that it would be a “huge fight and great fight.”
But that may be looking too far ahead. Right now, Crawford should enjoy being America’s new boxing superstar. He deserves it.
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