On March 1, WBO lightweight titlist Terence Crawford accomplished the biggest victory of his career. Ironically, it was an achievement that most U.S. audiences didn’t get a chance to see — sans HBO coverage, Crawford traveled to the UK and defeated long-time belt-holder (or belt-warmer, depending on your perspective) Ricky Burns. It was a move that most U.S. fighters, especially those being groomed by a major TV network, wouldn’t have taken. During his lightweight run, Adrien Broner balked at traveling overseas. But Crawford took a calculated risk that’s now paid off three months later in the form of a high-profile title match against the explosive, undefeated Cuban Yuriorkis Gamboa.
On paper, you’d say Crawford holds several key advantages. He’s naturally bigger, having previously competed at 140 pounds and holds a five-inch reach advantage (70″ to 65″), which should help Crawford exploit Gamboa’s defensive lapses. Not to mention, Gamboa has looked flat-out bored in recent fights, resulting in him suffering knockdowns in all his recent fights.
With that said, Gamboa is still deadly in the two areas that can change a fight in an instant — speed and power.
Just one day before they complete the final pre-fight ritual of the weigh-in, Crawfords details Gamboa’s style, his future at lightweight, and navigating the politics of boxing.
Knockout Nation: This will be your first fight in your hometown since 2006. But we’ve seen fighters struggle to stay focused with all the distractions that come with that. How did you approach it?
Crawford: I made sure I didn’t train here. I just got back for the fight. This was an all-around camp – I didn’t feel I needed to focus on any particular area. We firmly believe we have all the tools to get the job done against Gamboa.
KO Nation: Was there any concern on the business side about taking this fight considering what happened with Gamboa’s fight with Mikey Garcia?
Crawford: Oh nah, there were no worries. I figure that everything happened for a reason and that situation opened the door for this fight. This was meant to happen.
KO Nation: What do you expect Gamboa’s strategy to be?
Crawford: I see him coming out trying to potshot me. But he can be wild and unpredictable so other than that I don’t know how he’s going to fight. I watch a little bit of my opponents – I’m not a fan of not knowing what you’re coming up against in the ring. But as far as studying every day, that’s not me.