Terence Crawford retains title vs. Jose Benavidez Jr.

Not even an undefeated former world champion who fights the fight of his life is a match for Terence Crawford.

The Omaha, Nebraska, native gave his home crowd a remarkable show on Saturday and cemented his position as the best boxer in the world by systematically taking apart Jose Benavidez Jr. in their bout for the WBO welterweight title.

Crawford was far ahead on the scorecards entering the 12th, but dropped the brash Benavidez literally on his head with a crushing right uppercut. After Benavidez got up, Crawford showed why he’s known as the best finisher in the game.

He jumped on Benavidez and finished him with a relentless assault, forcing referee Celestino Ruiz to jump in to save the defenseless Benavidez.

It thoroughly entertained all but a few of the 13,323 who packed the CHI Health Center Omaha Arena to witness the greatest fighter in the world do his thing yet again. Only Crawford’s mother, Debra, wasn’t pleased. She wanted him to finish Benavidez in the 10th.

“She said, ‘It took you too long,’” a grinning Crawford said afterward. “But it was all right.”

It was one more step toward a showdown with IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence, who is also undefeated and has the kind of punching power that would make a fight with Crawford a modern-day Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns.

Because they’re on different television networks and because Top Rank and the Premier Boxing Champions haven’t worked well together in the past, it’s not expected that Crawford and Spence will fight next, even though it’s the match fight fans want to see.

It’s a shame because that fight has the chance to be one that will be talked about for decades afterward.

Crawford is ensuring each time out that he’ll be remembered as one of the best to have ever done it. His only shortcoming is that he doesn’t have a long list of elite opponents on his résumé, but he dominates everyone he faces.

Benavidez stalked Crawford for months and the two nearly came to blows several times in the build-up, including at Friday’s weigh-in when Benavidez shoved Crawford with both hands and Crawford threw a right hand that just missed.

There was plenty of heat and tension between them, and Benavidez came out determined. He simply wasn’t experienced enough to deal with a guy like Crawford, who switched from conventional to southpaw with ease and broke him down expertly.

The punch stats compiled by CompuBox showed Crawford’s dominance. He landed 186 of 579, while Benavidez landed 92 of 501.

“I take nothing from him,” said Benavidez, who said that his leg which was injured when he was shot two years ago bothered him in the fight. “He’s the best of the best.”

That he is, and with Spence also a top five pound-for-pound fighter, a match between them could be one for the ages.

Crawford wouldn’t mention Spence’s name in the ring, saying he only wants to fight “all of them,” in regard to the division’s best fighters.

He also grudgingly gave respect to his vanquished opponent.

“He made me work for it and earn it,” Crawford said. “I couldn’t figure it out at first, but once I got my distance, it was a wrap.”

That it was.

And now, hopefully, on to the Spence fight.

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