Terence Crawford is arguably the baddest man in boxing and it’s not because of his knockout power.
His relentless mean streak in and out the ring is what turned Crawford into a former undisputed champion and a top three pound-for-pound boxer.
Crawford, 31, intimidates opponents with unforgiving confidence during fight week and embarrasses them on fight night in every way possible and he’ll do it by sticking out his tongue. Most of Crawford’s opponents are mentally defeated before entering the ring.
That won’t be the case Saturday when Crawford defends his WBO welterweight title against Jose Benavidez Jr. The event in Omaha, Nebraska, is scheduled to be televised at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
Crawford’s scare tactics haven’t worked on Benavidez, who has barked back. This will be Benavidez’s third fight since being shot multiple times while walking his dog in Phoenix two years ago.
Benavidez has faced death and was told by doctors he wouldn’t fight again. There’s nothing to be scared about.
This welterweight bout could be much closer than the betting odds, and a lot more compelling than the boxers’ cringeworthy trash talk this week, which featured burrito and yo momma jokes.
Benavidez (27-0, 18 knockouts) is a plus 1,400 underdog and Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) is a minus 4,000 favorite at the Westgate sports book.
“It’s been real since day one, since the fight has been announced,” Crawford said on the bad blood. “It ain’t been nothing but real.”
There were big expectations for Benavidez, 26, when he went pro eight years ago. Before the gun shots, Benavidez was hanging with the wrong crowd and there were questions about his commitment to the sport.
Benavidez’s younger brother, David, has since taken the family torch. David Benavidez is viewed as arguably the best fighter in the super middleweight division and a rising star.
This is the older Benavidez’s golden opportunity to get back on track versus the world-class technician in Crawford’s hometown of Omaha.
“It’s time to show the world what I can do,” Benavidez said. “I’ve been waiting for this my whole life. I am here. I am going to take over this city, and I am going to take his belt. I’m not scared.”
Fights at the Hard Rock
Golden Boy Promotions returns to the Hard Rock Hotel on Saturday for a junior flyweight world title fight.
Puerto Rican knockout artist Angel Acosta will defend his WBO belt against Mexico’s Abraham Rodriguez.
“Abraham Rodriguez will come very well prepared, and I’m sure we will give a great fight between Puerto Rico and Mexico,” said Acosta, who has won all 18 of his fights by knockout.
In the co-main event, Bakhram Murtazaliev faces Norberto Gonzalez in a 10-round junior middleweight bout.
The first bell at The Joint is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. with the first bout streamed at 6 on Facebook Watch. Tickets start at $10 and are available on ticketmaster.com and The Joint box office.
More boxing: Follow all of our boxing coverage online at reviewjournal.com/boxing and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.More boxing: Follow all of our boxing coverage online at reviewjournal.com/boxing and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.
Saturday: Golden Boy Fight Night, Hard Rock Hotel, 6 p.m., Facebook Watch
Oct. 20: Ryota Murata vs. Rob Brant, Park MGM, 7:30 p.m., ESPN Plus