Terence Crawford vs Viktor Postol, Oscar Valdez vs Rueda, Benavidez vs Santana, Gvozdyk vs Karpency
BY KID HERSH
In a bout between the two very best at 140lbs, both Terence Crawford and Viktor Postol had to sacrifice for this one to happen as they both missed the birth of their children! Crawford missed the birth of his fifth (a son) and Postol missed the birth of his twin boys in Ukraine. It was live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, promoted by Top Rank and on PPV via HBO.
Next up was Oleksandr Gvozdyk (10-0, 8KO's) vs Tommy Karpency (26-5-1, 15KO's). Kenny Bayless was the referee. In the first round we got a real big surprise when arpency landed a short right to Gvozdyk's chin and dropped him in the final minute of the round. He got up and was on unsteady legs but surprisingly Karpency backed off after only very briefly going for a knockout. In the second round Gvozdyk took the fight over with his footwork and output. I have to admit though; that knockout record is very inflated because he gets zero leverage behind his shots. It sounds like a tennis ball being hit when he lands flush when he is supposed to be this big puncher. But alas, he was clearly winning the rounds and drew blood from Karpency's nose in the fifth round. In the sixth round the fight was over as Karpency's nose was bleeding profusely and he was severely winded (perhaps from taking the fight on short notice) and the fight was over when he went down from a body shot and chose not to rise - claiming that he could not see from his left eye due to a punch, plus the accumulated damage.
Next up was Francisco "Chia" Santana (24-4-1, 12KO's) vs Jose Benavidez Jr (24-0, 16KO's). Benjy Esteves was the referee. The first round was a thriller as the men went to work on the inside trading punches and their best shots. Santana was a bit sloppy with his shots but they were landing and working. Benavidez on the other hand was picking his spots with good distance but by the end of the round was drawn into a close battle war. This close battle war continued into the second round and should not have been too much of a surprise because Benavidez has been drawn into these before in the past when you have to wonder why in the heck he is not just boxing his man. Benavidez had the stronger punches, as evidenced by the head snapping of Santana and even stunning his man in the second half of the second round, but Santana was being given the only type of fight he can win which has to be a head scratcher. Maybe it is still the fact that Benavidez is only 24 years old - not yet "matured". Benavidez was landing knockout blows but Santana continued forward with great willpower. The third round was no less amazing between the two brawlers as Benavidez allowed himself to get backed into the ropes where he covered up and let Santana unload. He would counter with hard punches occasionally but was being outworked by the blue collar Santana. It had shades of the Mauricio Herrera fight for Benavidez, which is exactly what Harold Lederman pointed out in the fourth round. In the fifth round both fighters were completely exhausted and by the end of the round could barely lift their arms let alone muster up enough strength to knock out the other man. Over the coming rounds it was a bit tough to pick just who was carrying the action. Chia was throwing more punches and seemed to be mostly carrying the fight but Benavidez would land one really good shot occasionally that was what you would "remember" as the telling blow in an exchange period. No doubt Benavidez should not have his back on the ropes nearly as much as he has but again you can see him back into the ropes all on his own vs Santana driving him there. The matchup of "will and skill", as the crew called it, continued and Benavidez had himself a great eighth round by simply keeping off the ropes and sharp shooting and moving on Chia. Going down the stretch it was a great fight but one that Benavidez pulled off down the stretch with his conditioning and staying in the middle of the ring instead of on the ropes. Santana seemed to have blown his load early on with his very high output but I think another factor that comes into play is the fact that Benavidez has heavier hands and cleaner, straighter blows that did more damage when landing which broke Santana down more than vice versa.
next up was Oscar Valdez (19-0, 17KO's) vs Matias Rueda (26-0, 23KO's). Russell Mora was the referee. In the first round it was target practice for Valdez as he landed left hooks a plenty and right hands that were standing up Rueda straight and hurting him while bloodying up his face. It seemed almost a bit amazing that he did not go down by the end of the round because he took some serious damage from a serious puncher. Rueda also showed that he does not know how to clinch. It did not take much longer for Valdez to get the knockout as in the second round as he landed a vicious liver shot for the first knockdown and then followed it up with another to become a world champion. His reaction in the ring was amazing - truly a show of emotion and a guys hard work and dedication for years and years paying off in one night and less than five minutes at that. Cannot wait to see him in there against fellow champions and elite fighters. A star was born with Oscar Valdez tonight.
Next up was the main event of the two best 140lb'ers in the world Terence "Bud" Crawford (28-0, 20KO's) and Viktor "Iceman" Postol (28-0, 12KO's). This is the type of fight that all the boxing fans out there claim to want to see. Well, here we have it folks - the two best in the division and both of them are undefeated and in the prime of their careers. Referee was Tony Weeks. In the first round there was not much action as Postol pressed forward and did lots of feinting while measuring up Crawford. Crawford, on the other hand, was changing between convention and orthodox stance while showing lots of movement. In the second round it was more of the same but Crawford was throwing a few more jabs and landed an overhand left at the end of the round that drove Postol back. It was more feinting and "war of the nerves", as Lampley called it, in the third round but they started to pick up the pace at the end of the round. Postol landed a couple of really nice right hands to end the round but Crawford ate them very well, smiling and showing that Postols best shot is not going to do anything to him. In the fourth round Crawford did what he always does; starts to pull away. He nailed Postol with left hands repeatedly in the middle of the round that Postol took well and plowed forward for more. This tactic of ignoring Crawfords power really cost him in the fifth round because he went down two times from lefts. The first one was at the very beginning of the round and was more of a flash knockdown where he was also caught off balance because it was so fast the viewers nearly missed it. But the second one in the middle of the round was from a very hard left hand that caused Postol to reel backwards and his hand touched the canvas. He made it through the round but in the coming rounds Crawford was establishing his superiority by moving nonstop and completely confusing frustrating Postol, who was relegated to standing like a statue with his right hand plastered to his face. To show this you have to look no further than the ninth round where he landed 1 of 10 punches! Crawford put it on cruise control and won the wide unanimous decision easily with his amazing footwork. Postol was deducted a point in the eleventh for hitting behind the head and had some good moment sin the twelfth and final round while going for broke but he tossed far too many rounds overall to consider it a good performance or even effort really. I am very surprised he did not press harder but I guess he did get hurt and then backed off the gas. Postol only threw a measly 244 punches - 20 per round - which no one can expect to win a fight off of.