On Saturday 23rd of July two undefeated light welterweight boxing world champions will collide in a unification bout that will crown the king of the light welterweight division. Too often in this day and age boxing match ups exceed their use by date when two champions of the same weight division wait far too long to compete against one another, this fight between rising star Terence Crawford & unlikely hero Viktor Postol however has been made at the perfect time notably one of the rare times in recent history the fans have got the fight they wanted whilst the interest is still at its peak. There has been some negative reaction to this fight being on ppv, but if two promising fighters in their prime battling for the top spot in their division isn’t worthy of ppv then I’m not sure what kind of fight is worthy.
The betting favorite in this match up is Terence Crawford who first achieved recognition by traveling to Scotland & challenging Ricky Burns for the WBO lightweight title in March of 2014, winning an impressive decision away from home additionally displaying a well rounded skill set in the process. Three months after capturing the world title Crawford then made his first defence in his home town of Omaha against the undefeated, dangerous and talented Yuriorkis Gamboa, the fight did not disappoint it was a fight of the year candidate ending in 9th round KO going the way of Crawford and raising his stock considerably. Crawford returned to the CenturyLink center in Omaha for what would be his final fight in the lightweight division against Raymundo Beltran, The contest ended in a unanimous decision win for Crawford consequently Crawford was crowned the Ring magazine champion and credited as the undisputed champion of the lightweight division. Moving up to the light welterweight division Crawford and Thomas Dulorme met for the vacant WBO Light welterweight strap which Crawford earned with a TKO in round six and has since stopped lesser known foes Dierry Jean & Hank Lundy racking up two defences of his title in the process. On this undefeated run Crawford has climbed to the number six position of Ring Magazines pound for pound list asserting himself as one of the premier fighters on the planet.
Viktor Postol’s rise to boxing fame has been more immediate, Postol was scheduled to fight Lucas Matthysse in October 2015 & Coming into this fight Matthysse was a heavy favorite boasting an impressive record consisting of 37 wins with 34 of them coming by way of stoppage. Among most experts and fans this fight was not going to make the distance and looked like a routine victory for Lucas on paper, Viktor Postol however did not read the script. Early into the fight it was clear Viktor was well prepared for his opponent and went about executing a brilliant game plan and controlling the pace of the fight with his superior reach which in turn caused Matthysse to become frustrated and take chances. Late into round 10 Matthysse took one chance too many and was dropped by a straight right with only 15 seconds of the round left on the clock, a Mixture of disgruntlement and being wobbled lead to Matthysse refusing to answer the referees count. Just like that Viktor Postol is the star of his own underdogs tale and subsequently introduces himself as a threat to anyone in the light welterweight division due to the manner of victory, after claiming the vacant WBC title in that fight Postol now gets the chance to write another chapter to his underdogs story.
Making a case for Postol
Lets touch on what Viktor Postol does well and how he can use it against Terence Crawford, the takeaway from Postol’s fight against Matthysse was how well Postol controlled the distance with his long jab & in this fight with Crawford Postol has a three and a half inch reach advantage as well as a three inch height advantage. Crawford has a habit of starting slow he likes to watch and read his opponents before setting things up, early in this fight if Postol gets the jab going and landing frequently he can steal some early rounds which will come in handy should the fight be a close affair. The other part of his game that impressed me was Postol’s efficiency, he doesn’t throw every shot with the same power and at the same speed, his punching is not linear he often breaks the rhythm of his combinations. This is effective for two reasons, the first being its hard for your opponent to time his shots if you’re consistently changing the pattern of your combinations and the second reason is you don’t waste energy when your shots don’t land clean or miss together. Postol moves well for a bigger guy and will need to for success in this contest, the plan should be to work behind the jab and force Crawford to find a way past it, whilst Crawford is trying to cut Postol off its essential that Postol looks for openings to land his combinations to keep Crawford on the outside. If Crawford does manage to get inside Postol’s reach it would be in Postol’s best interest to hold and cause the ref to break the action. A plan similar to the Matthysse fight wouldn’t be a bad idea for this fight the only thing Viktor Postol needs to be wary of is he wont get the same amount of success throwing the same combination over and over, Crawford has a better fight IQ than anyone Postol has previously faced so he must keep asking different questions of Crawford or risk being figured out.
Making a case for Crawford
The most talked about aspect of Terence Crawford’s game is his ability to switch and fight effectively from both the orthodox and southpaw stance, in the words of the great Roy Jones jnr “ive not seen anyone switch this effectively since Marvin Hagler”. we have seen how effective this ability can be during the Gamboa fight where Crawford opened up in the orthodox stance and was struggling it seemed till he switched to southpaw forcing Gamboa to reset, during that period Crawford started landing his jab (which he was having little success with from the orthodox stance) and suddenly the complexion of the fight changed dramatically. Crawford needs to find a way past Postol’s Reach as soon as possible, either by countering or forcing Postol to miss with effective movement and educated pressure which in turn will allow Crawford to break the distance and make Postol Hesitant to use the jab. Once Crawford is inside its imperative he forces Postol to work and not just tie him up, the earlier Crawford eliminates Postol’s Jab the more Postol will be forced to trade with Crawford which is a scenario that up to now Crawford has done most of his damage.
Viktor Postol has all the size advantages as well as the legendary trainer Freddie Roach in his corner, he’s got the tools to give Crawford a tough night at the office and is definitely the caliber of opponent that Crawford cannot afford to overlook. For me the biggest factor and something that’s often overlooked is Crawford’s fight IQ, anytime he’s had mid fight adjustments to make he’s made them immediately almost as immediately as the commentary team has pointed it out. I cant look past Crawford’s ability to problem solve and for all the problems Postol brings i don’t think its quite enough to keep Terence Crawford at bay, I see the Omaha native putting in an impressive performance & cementing himself as a firm candidate to become a marquee boxing attraction that can achieve solid ppv numbers. My prediction is therefore,
Terence Crawford wins by TKO in round 10.