New York City’s Madison Square Garden will host a Top Rank Inc. event featuring pound for pound ranked Terrence Crawford and contender Felix Diaz in the main event. The matchup itself is flying under the radar as is Crawford’s opponent who sits around a +900 underdog on the betting books. Terence Crawford, a two-weight champion and Omaha, Nebraska native, is primed to carry the torch for the next generation. The problem is his resume lacks real depth and name recognition to spark a light to that heavy torch. Although Felix Diaz is not a name to heighten Terrence’s stature he may present problems to the 140-unified king as Yuriorkis Gamboa did almost three years ago.
Terence Crawford is as talented of a fighter as any active pugilist in the world. He makes adjustments to opponents on the fly like few can in the sport. As a smooth operator Crawford switches from orthodox to southpaw effortlessly. He can box with ease and also has a knack for making his opposition kiss the canvas with perfectly timed accuracy.
Crawford long ago passed the eye-test when given a chance to sharpen his sword against the top-level. In there lies the current dilemma of finding a suitable dancing partner to raise his profile enough to match his elite skills.
In walks 2008 Dominican Republic Olympic medalist Felix Diaz who is a live dog no matter what Las Vegas tells us. It took a while for Felix to develop in the pro ranks but he appears to be peaking at the right time. After struggling his way to a majority-decision versus Adrian Granados, Felix showed his worth in October 2015 facing Lamont Peterson. Peterson getting the benefit of the doubt on the judge’s scorecards was likely due to home-turf.
One could make a case for the home fighter but not to the tune of 117-111 or frankly 116-112. The third judge was possibly correct on with a 114-114.
Felix Diaz won’t wow anyone with power punching, speed, or body type. What Diaz lacks for intangibles compared to Crawford he’ll more than make up for with a workhorse mentality mixed with legit skills. By far Yuriorkis Gamboa gave Terrence his toughest fight to date thru four rounds. Crawford showed his inner-dog combined with skillfulness and delivered a helluva performance by closing the show in high fashion.
Felix Diaz fights out a southpaw stance doing quality work on both the inside and outside. With sufficient defense, Felix often throws lead left hands usually of the overhand variety with a charging-type offensive style.
Not just limited to head hunting, Diaz attacks the body as well using angles as he quick-spurts to get in range.
Once in range he’s adaptable finding the openings to score points and remain active. From a weakness standpoint, Felix tends to lunge with his lead punches and is very susceptible to uppercuts and hooks.
In the first handful of rounds look for this to be a closely-contested scrap similar to how several of Crawford’s bouts have played out. Instead of adjusting and then completely dominating as Terrence has done in the past, Diaz will remain competitive to the final bell. Or until he gets caught with something flush, likely an upper cut or counter check-hook as described.
Terence’s craftiness switching to southpaw will fluster Diaz and possibly make him hesitant. Crawford will blend movement with pocket presents as he counters Diaz coming in. In the end Felix will be Terrence’s toughest customer to date but the unified junior welterweight will still win clean.
My Official Prediction is Terrence Crawford by Unanimous Decision
Side Note: Newly crowned IBF junior lightweight champion Gervonta Davis looks to kick start a dual-site Showtime quadruple header on Saturday starting at 6pm eastern time against fellow unbeaten junior lightweight Liam Walsh from Great Britain. Also on FS1 later that night, undefeated super-middleweight prospect David Benevidez gets a firm test facing Rogelio ‘Porky’ Medina to top the card.
Written by Chris Carlson Host of the Rope A Dope Radio Podcast available at blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio Subscribe on Apple Podcasts (ITunes), Player.FM, Tunein, & Stitcher. Visit The Rope A Dope Podcast YouTube Channel & Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio