Analyzing The High IQ Boxing Mind Of Bud Crawford
By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent: After conquering both the 140 pounds and 147 pounds professional boxing divisions across all major worldwide title belts-the WBC, the WBA Super title, the WBO, and the IBO-Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford, 40-0 with 31 knockouts, Omaha, Nebraska, may have Jermell Charlo or Tim Tszyu in his sights next in an attempt to win a third unified world title next at 154 pounds in the super welterweight and junior middleweight higher weight class.
The fifth belt, the outsider International Boxing Organization IBO world title, is apparently not in Bud’s line of consideration. Crawford will have to wait until Charlo’s date with big cash mega destiny against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez at 168 pounds on September 30, 2023, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
A WBO ruling will allow Charlo to retain his distinction as undisputed 154 pounds champion through the ring announcements by Jimmy Lennon. As soon as the Alvarez versus Jermell Charlo bout begins, interim 154-pound WBO world champion Tszyu will be elevated to full champion status. Thus ‘Bud’ Crawford will have to beat both of them at 154 pounds if he wishes to achieve undisputed status as a world champion in a third weight class.
An in-depth analysis of southpaw Bud Crawford’s game plan against Errol Spence Jr. at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, last week, on July 29, 2023, reveals Bud spotted the first round to Spence to see and decode what the Spence game plan of attack would be. Bud’s upraised gray glove blocked the numerous jabs of Spence and revealed Spence lacked the punching power to do any significant damage of consequence so far as Bud was concerned.
The CompuBox statistics told the true story. Bud landed 185 of 369 punches overall for a connecting rate of over 50 percent during the nine rounds of the bout with Spence! Bud also landed 98 of 163 power shots thrown, a remarkable connect rate of over 60 percent for power shots thrown! Spence landed only 33 of 269 jabs thrown, a connect rate of only 11 percent, or landing only three or four jabs per round. Spence landed only 96 of 480 punches thrown overall, a connect rate of only 20 percent overall.
Crawford appeared egoless. Not underestimating the abilities of Spence, Crawford calculated the creation of unique angles for pinpoint head and body shots and began to raise the bar in round two. By this point, Bud had deduced nothing Spence threw could hurt him. Bud tested both his counterpunching and power shot capacities with a short counter jab in round two, which quickly and immediately decked Spence for the first time in his career near the end of the round and did not do damage.
The knockdown did give Bud Crawford a one-point edge on the scorecards going into round three by virtue of the 10-8 round. By winning round three, four, five, and six, Bud increased his scorecard edge to five points ahead. After scoring two knockdowns in the seventh round, Bud was now eight points ahead, meaning if Spence had somehow been able to win rounds nine, ten, eleven, and twelve, Crawford would still win the bout 116-112 on all three judges’ scorecards.
Bud’s flooring of the gas pedal in round two was part of a slow but sure process designed to gradually break Spence down. Spence was wasting his energy, throwing an incredible number of jabs. 236 Spence jabs missed. Crawford had anticipated a ‘Plan B’ from Spence, who instead kept throwing jabs that were either blocked or thrown into the air in stupidity for the next four rounds, a Spence game plan which accomplished nothing.
The consequence of Bud’s pinpoint counter shots had Spence backing up the whole time while getting significantly hit. Spence, down five points entering round seven, had to win the last six rounds of the bout to win. This meant Spence would have to take chances in round seven and have to switch to a power shot attacking templet. Spence would be forced to take chances to throw power shots which would hurt Bud, leaving himself open to counter power shots from Crawford. When Spence went for broke, his power shots did not hurt Bud, but they did create counter power shot opportunities. This enabled Bud to deck Spence twice and build up a seven points scorecard lead going into round eight.
After scoring the two knockdowns, Bud assessed Spence did not completely look all right. Bud had gone completely southpaw for southpaw Spence, 28-2 with 22 knockouts, Desoto, Texas. Once Spence realized any jab he threw resulted in significant counter-punishment from Bud, Spence needed to come up with a ‘Plan B’ but waited too long to come to that conclusion.
Crawford listened to his corner, boxing patiently, countering patiently, and utilizing a tight defense, superior movement cutting off the ring, and pinpoint accuracy with punches landed. Bud presented both an extremely difficult target and a brilliant counter-offensive attack.
When the end came at 2:32 of round eight, Bud was staggering Spence around the ring, helpless and about to meet his certain tomb, tumbling backward all over the place. The defense of Spence shattered, the offensive skills of Spence eroded and meaningless, Bud Crawford revealed Spence at the championship level to be only a limited eight round fighter against fighters at Bud’s level, and by virtue of the knockdowns, Spence was seen as a very limited eight round fighter at that.
Having come off a bad car accident and eye surgery, some skeptics could argue the Erorl Spence Jr. version represented against Bud Crawford was not the Errol Spence Jr. the boxing public once knew. There was no evidence these factors influenced nor played a part in this bout. Simply put, Crawford beat Errol Spence Jr. not just to the punch but by executing the plan of attack which he knew would work. Spence could no longer rely on his famed jab to pull him through. Crawford demonstrated he could outwork the likes of Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis. However, a power hitter like Ennis would probably pick apart Spence with the same game plan utilized by Crawford.
When dealing with power hitters like Crawford and Ennis, who are also talented technical boxers, a jab fighter has to be able to switch to power shot power hitter. If he cannot, the jab artist will get picked apart. Fighters like Sugar Ray Leonard, Wilfredo Benitez, and Roberto Duran would have been significant 12 or 15 round challenges for Bud. Against the likes of Thomas Hearns versus Bud Crawford, whoever won the bout, the winner would likely have gone home early.
Crawford versus Spence reminds this reporter much of the Aaron Pryor versus the late Alexis Arguello in their second match at Caesars Palace Outdoor Arena in September 1983. That is to say, this is the sort of bout Spence would have had to fight with Bud Crawford to make a go of it. Pryor had Arguello down in the first round, as Bud Crawford had Spence in the second round, both Pryor and Crawford having ascertained early they had the bout and counter-power to win in a long drawn out contest.
Pryor had Arguello down in round four, and Crawford had Spence down twice in round seven. In such a give-and-take battle between Crawford and Spence, Spence would have to match the accuracy of Crawford. Bud Crawford, like Pryor, is a master closer. Referee Harvey Dock never gave Bud the chance to close the show. Crawford is a much better counter-puncher than Pryor. It would take a higher stakes power shot bomber like Roberto Duran to really mix it with Bud Crawford.
Tszyu versus Bud Crawford could be next on the horizon at 154 unless Crawford takes on Boots Ennis next. Those are the significant challenges for Bud Crawford on the table now. Crawford could opt for a Spence rematch, but the public would see such a rematch as non-competitive.
The loss to Crawford by Spence will not be easy for Spence to recover from; Spence, responding to reporters in the post-fight press conference, stated he would fight a rematch with Crawford again, but “hopefully at 154 (pounds).”
Spence admitted he “I could not take it up a notch (my fighting ability). Weight issues could have affected Spence, who appears ready to exit the 147 pounds division, like Bud, for higher skies.