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Terence Crawford takes a big step towards superstardom with sizzling stoppage win over Yuriorkis Gamboa

WBO lightweight king Terence Crawford looked superb last night in handing former amateur superstar Yuriorkis Gamboa his first pro defeat. Too big, tall and rangy he may have been for former featherweight Gamboa, but nothing should be taken from Crawford’s win. Looking for all the world like a Thomas Hearns clone, Crawford displayed power, accuracy, speed and, most of the time – barring the occasion in the 9th-round when he was hurt before turning things back around in his favour – patience.

Gamboa, at a major disadvantage in terms of reach, had to, as commentator Larry Merchant said, “try and make things happen,” and in doing so, by coming in and trying to land dome hurt on his taller opponent, the Cuban talent put himself at serious risk. Crawford of course took advantage of this and buzzed his challenger a number of times. Only Gamboa’s ridiculous heart and courage kept him in the fight, and Gamboa even stated post-fight that, after the second hurtful knockdown of the 9th and final round, he’d wanted to continue.

Crawford, though, was never going to let his win slip away and it’s a good thing the referee stopped the action when he did. So what now for both men? Gamboa lost, but at least he lost in spectacular fashion in a very exciting fight – meaning, the fans will pay to see him again. Too small for lightweight, Gamboa has to move back down to super-featherweight if he can do so. One loss does not a career end, and this particular cyclone, though blown out last night, can go on to cause more havoc.

As for Crawford, it is a big compliment indeed comparing him to the great Thomas Hearns, but his facial likeness to Hearns aside, Crawford, long and rangy, and, as we saw last night, powerful, did conjure up images of the legendary “Hitman” with his stunning victory/performance. Is Crawford already the best lightweight on the planet? It sure looks like it. It also looks as though Crawford, now 24-0(17) can fight his way through the weight divisions; possibly all the way up to welterweight.

Gamboa had craved the big fight opportunity that came his way yesterday, instead it was home town hero Crawford who capitalised. In the process, Crawford might have burst into the pound-for-pound rankings. Again, Gamboa may have been out of his depth fighting at such a high weight, but nothing can be taken from Crawford’s win. One special fighter beat another special fighter last night.