Terence Crawford was a heavy favorite against Viktor Postol on Saturday night, but the WBO champion from Nebraska was still fighting with a chip on his shoulder.
Crawford had listened to a week’s worth of praise for Postol’s left jab. On fight night, Crawford took away Postol’s trademark punch along with his WBC belt to become the unified junior welterweight champion.
Crawford (29-0) turned in a dominant performance to defeat Postol by 12-round unanimous decision (118-107, 118-107, 117-108) in front of an announced crowd of 7,027 at the MGM Grand Garden. Postol (28-1) entered unbeaten.
“I watched him and they said he had the best jab in the game, in the division,” Crawford said. “I proved different today.”
Crawford left no doubt about who is best in the 140-pound division, and a matchup with Manny Pacquiao now looms Nov. 5 at the Thomas & Mack Center. But don’t expect Crawford to chase the future Hall of Famer. Crawford said if Pacquiao wants the belts, the fight will be contested at 140. Pacquiao has fought at 147 the latter part of his career.
“I want it to be at 140, it will be at 140,” Crawford said.
Crawford, a natural righty, took control against Postol when he went to a southpaw stance toward the middle rounds. He rocked Postol with left hands and frustrated the Ukrainian with right jabs. Postol never got the jab going and looked frustrated by Crawford’s speed and constant movement.
Brian McIntyre, Crawford’s trainer, also had something to prove. Freddie Roach, who was in Postol’s corner, had said he would outcoach McIntyre.
“And they told me I wasn’t on Freddie Roach’s level. Freddie Roach who?” McIntyre said. ”(Freddie) said we was in over our heads. All we had to do was take away Postol’s legs and don’t let him get set.”
Postol looked puzzled and confused while Crawford kept rocking him with left hands. By the end, Crawford stuck out his tongue, shook his head at Postol and raised his right glove with 35 seconds left in the fight.
On the undercard, Oscar Valdez of Mexico recorded a second-round knockout of Matias Rueda of Argentina to win the vacant WBO featherweight title.
Valdez’s sensational performance had the crowd on its feet.
The last time Valdez was in the ring, he had called out two-division champion Vasyl Lomachenko. The message wasn’t received, but Valdez now holds a belt to get the best boxers’ attention. He won’t need to call out opponents anymore.
“I have the belt and I know I will get people calling me out,” Valdez said in the ring. “So let’s do it.”
Valdez (21-0, 18 knockouts) twice dropped the Argentinian to one knee, but he didn’t get up the second time to end the bout 2:18 into the second round. Valdez connected with four head shots, then capped it with a left hook to the body.
“It’s a dream,” Valdez said. “I started boxing to be a world champion. … I repeat, I’ll fight anybody.”
The undercard’s most competitive fight was a blowout on the scorecards. Welterweight Jose Benavidez Jr. defeated Francisco “Chia” Santana by unanimous decision (100-90, 96-94, 98-92), but the crowd booed the scores. The fight had nonstop action with Santana working the body and Benavidez landing the bigger shots upstairs.
“I connected on more punches. I did everything possible to win,” Santana said.
Benavidez said he next wants to fight WBO champion and Las Vegan Jessie Vargas.
The night almost started with a major upset. Heavy underdog Tommy Karpency caught Oleksandr Gvozdyk with a right hand to drop the Ukrainian in the first round. Gvozdyk, who won a gold medal at the London Olympics, bounced back to knock out Karpency in the sixth.
Gvozdyk delivered a body blow that forced Karpency to one knee. Karpency, who had a bloody nose, was told by his corner not to get up.
“We got caught in the first round. It’s all part of boxing, he was able to recover,” said Robert Garcia, Gvozdyk’s trainer.
Contact Gilbert Manzano at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0492. Follow him on Twitter: @gmanzano24