WBO World lightweight champion Terence Crawford defends his title in his home state of Nebraska at the CenturyLink Center, Omaha on November 29th. He faces a tough, hungry challenger in the shape of 33 year old Mexican Raymundo Beltran, who is vying to hold the title which he once should have owned himself.
Terence Crawford, the unbeaten Ring Magazine number one ranked lightweight on the planet, has established himself as the man to beat in the 135lbs division after his last two victories and virtuoso performances against elite calibre opposition. He won the WBO strap by beating the then Scottish world champion Ricky Burns in his hometown of Glasgow leaving the judges with absolutely no doubts as to the winner with a comprehensive unanimous points victory in a notoriously raucous atmosphere and tough place to gain a decision win. However things would get even better for the 27 year-old Nebraskan who then made his first defence of his title against the unbeaten and much feared Cuban, Yuriorkis Gamboa, who was largely tipped to rip away the title that he had only just won. Crawford had other ideas though and in dominant fashion sent Gamboa to the canvas four times before inflicting a first loss on Gamboa with a ninth round TKO.
Beltran is taking his second shot at the WBO title after losing in his first bid in hugely controversial circumstances. Beltran was the first of the two to travel to Glasgow for a shot at Ricky Burns but despite fighting like a man possessed, breaking his opponents jaw in the second round and knocking down his opponent in the eighth round Beltran was denied by the judges as Burns was awarded the split decision victory. It was a result that left a sense of injustice all round even in the eyes of many of the home supporters. It will be a great motivation for him to win the title knowing he has to chance to hold what should have been his and he is a proven and worthy challenger.
However he certainly has a different proposition to overcome against Crawford who is fighter very much in the peak of his career and on right top of his game. Beltran’s aggressive come forward style has worked effectively for him in the past but Crawford is a much bigger hitter than the like of Ricky Burns as he proved in his last fight against Gamboa, so Beltran will have to be calculated in applying his pressure. Beltran is the type of fighter that is easily underestimated but Crawford is yet to show any chinks in his armour and looks right at the peak of his powers possessing both slick boxing ability and power so it’s hard to see any fighter dethroning him anytime soon.