The world is about to meet Terence “Bud” Crawford, the lightweight.
The unbeaten Omahan impressed boxing pundits in March when he moved up from his natural weight class to dominate hard-hitting Colombian junior welterweight Breidis Prescott in Las Vegas.
Now, he's returning to the 135-pound division for the first title fight of his professional career.
Crawford (20-0, 15 knockouts) meets Alejandro Sanabria (34-1-1, 25 KOs) of Mexico for the vacant North American Boxing Organization lightweight championship Saturday at American Airlines Arena in Dallas. The bout, which will be televised live on HBO, is scheduled to begin at 9:45 p.m.
It will be Crawford's second consecutive appearance on the network. In his TV debut, he handled the dangerous Prescott easily in the first 10-round bout of his career despite taking the fight on short notice.
The boxing world has been buzzing about the Omahan ever since.
“When it came to making another fight on HBO, there was no problem selling a Terence Crawford fight,” promoter Bob Arum said at Thursday's press conference. “Now, Terence Crawford is recognized by everyone. And he's recognized as one of the best, if not the best, 135-pounder out there.”
Said Crawford: “If I'm getting ready for a fight and everyone is still talking about my last fight, that's a good thing.”
Last weekend, HBO announcers mentioned him as a potential future opponent for unbeaten former featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa, who recently moved to 135 pounds. But first Crawford must get by Sanabria, who is fighting for the first time outside of Mexico.
Normally a busy boxer, Sanabria hasn't had a bout since November. The nearly six-month layoff is his longest inactive streak since going almost seven months between bouts after his biggest victory to date, a 12-round decision over former U.S. Olympian Rocky Juarez in early 2009.
Like Crawford before the victory over Prescott, Sanabria is a virtual unknown to most boxing fans, though he's ranked 10th by the World Boxing Organization.
“The way I see it, he's in the same place I was before my last fight,” Crawford said. “He's coming in trying to make a name for himself.”
Crawford is rated No. 5 by the WBO and No. 4 by the International Boxing Federation.
The North American Boxing Organization is a regional body of the WBO. Winning its lightweight belt Saturday would put the victor closer to a title shot against WBO lightweight champ Ricky Burns of Great Britain.
“It makes it a lot more intriguing because it's for a title. It would be my first title in the professional ranks,” Crawford said. “The plan is to be successful Saturday with a victory and look forward to fighting a (world) champion or in a title eliminator.”
Team Crawford spent four weeks in Colorado, training at altitude, for Saturday's bout. The fighter from Omaha said he isn't concerned about the fact that little is known about Sanabria.
“I take the first couple of rounds on any opponent just to feel them out,” he said. “I never go in there too confident, thinking I'm just going to knock this guy out. That's how you end up losing or not performing to your best potential. I'm just going to go in there and do my thing.
“I always look at it like I've got work to do. I've got unfinished business because I haven't won the title yet. And after winning the title, I've got much more to prove and show for myself. I'm never satisfied. I'm always trying to work to get better.”
Contact the writer:
712-325-5756, email@example.com, twitter.com/BooneOWH