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Terence Crawford is the degrader and Amir Khan is his latest victim



Photo: Frank Franklin II (AP)

NEW YORK CITY ̵

1; Terence Crawford is thin, almost bony, with the gaping smile of a child's was just caught when he had stolen Honey bun in the canteen. It's a bad smile. He did not go out of his way to foster the soft fan-friendliness that the best fighters often use for big money, like lotions for marketing purposes. Terence Crawford is mean and you can see to the vulgarity. It is not hidden. You can think of him as a small, inconspicuous young man who has been picked up and made mean and spent the years that followed to bring it to life. The world has discovered, to their chagrin, that this little guy is very good at beating his ass if he wants. And he wants it. He is equally happy and graceful. He slides his thin legs across the ring like a water insect moving across the surface of a pond. And then he stings.

Crawford is either the best or second best pound-by-pound boxer in the world. With this status, fame, wealth, wake of groupies, Ferraris and pet tigers can emerge. But what apparently motivates Terence Crawford is kicking butt. He is from Omaha and his nickname is "Bud". There is no big hassle towards Hollywood. He just does not give any indication that he really cares about becoming an influential figure in American culture. He gives every hint that it is important to him not only to beat, but anyone who chooses to enter with him in the ring, convulsively punish and humiliate.

On Saturday night, this victim was Amir Khan, a fighter with world-class skills and world-class hearts, but whose career has been adversely affected by the fact that he likes to be both aggressive and very easy to defeat. Khan has a bad chin, as they say, which is not a moral judgment, but a simple physiological fact. Fighters who are unable to absorb really big punches have to focus their boxing style on this fact. Amir Khan has never bothered about it, and that's why, although he's about as good as the world's best welterweight, he has been spectacularly knocked out a few times. You can see why he does not want to be a defensive fighter. I think Khan has the best pure hand speed in the whole boxing, which means he can hit his face faster from his shoulder than anyone else in the world. His hands are so fast that he often throws with straight shots, so he looks like a man who drives with a handwheel at great speed – bipipipipipipes. It beats people faster than with strength: even if the stroke is not exceptionally hard, it comes to you before you have toned up and dropped your muscles. Like all faulty superheroes, his speed controls him more than he does. When he starts letting go of these blows, he can not resist leaping forward and acting. His eyes were widened by his own abilities. Then he gets into trouble. He is the classic, fearless warrior who dies in the end.

Khan is from Bolton, England, and the British were in full force on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. British fight fans like to travel, I suppose that is better everywhere than at home. The good places were full of the same people, English and Americans, but also otherwise: young men who spend a lot of money on professional beard care and wardrobe, embarrassing tight suits without a tie, Balmain jackets and too high shirts Number of buttons unbuttoned not up, pumping his arms to the club's sticks, to young Wall Street men, or to those who profess the same lifestyle, the man's cruelest form, full of testosterone and outward symbols of masculinity. Boxing matches characterize these guys who see the sport as an accessory worn like a gold chain. Their immodesty is proof that they have never thrown the shit out of their feet like the boxers.

This fight was a very instructive example of the difference between very good boxers and really great boxers. Amir Khan is very good. And you can immediately see why, when you see him fight. His speed is clearly overwhelming. His gifts are obvious to the naked eye. Watch him two rounds and you'll understand exactly why he's dangerous.

Photo: Al Bello (Getty)

Terence Crawford, a great fighter, presents his gifts not so fast. Like many great fighters, you may need to watch ten of his fights to really get an idea of ​​what makes him so good. Yes, he has all the physical qualities of a top boxer, but there is no sledgehammer power or blind speed or conspicuousness that pops out and says: Here I am, the great gift! Instead, what makes great fighters great is always their opinion. They make better decisions than anyone who opposes them. That's why they are unbeatable. This attribute can lead to many different characters among the big fighters, but the attribute itself is universal. For Mayweather, it made him a defensive genius who knew how to do just enough to win rounds; for Andre Ward, it became a chameleon, adapting every battle plan to his opponent; For Crawford, it allows him to read and respond to challenges that would destroy fewer fighters. Crawford is meaner than many other great fighters. He has the special characteristic not only to beat you, but to hurt you as well. His distance is ethereal. He can deal with bigger men, hurt them and get out without scratches, while he does not seem to work too hard at all. He is very relaxed. He holds his gloves with the palms in the manner of patties and pushes a lead jab out only halfway; As soon as this draws a reaction kick from his opponent, he bangs the bump on the rest of the way. He does it all the time, constantly and it always works. He is the fly fisherman and his opponent is the fish. This bait never stops looking delicious.

I have no doubt that Amir Khan's coach has spent the last few months telling him to box carefully and not get too aggressive early. Nevertheless, he came out aggressively. It is his nature. In response, he was knocked down in the first round . Crawford glanced straight through this unmistakable Khan movement, marking him with a right hand that dropped him. It was such an amazing start – an immediate confirmation of the worst suspicion of all. Khan seemed anxious to hold back, though it was more like he was being held back by the force in front of him.

In the third round Crawford moved to the south paw position. He is one of the few fighters who is equally good on both sides. He does this change purely for psychological reasons, just to give Khan something to think about. He also beat him well from the other side. You could see Crawford in just over a lap, and once he finds you out, his self-confidence grows and then he gets more courageous. And meaner. In the fourth round, he really dug in Khan with both hands and stuck out his tongue. When Crawford's arms start to walk, he looks like a man beating you with two long rubber sticks.

In the sixth, he threw a big, hard left overcut directly into Chan's nuts. Khan doubled in pain, winced for a few minutes and then gave up. He could not continue. That was it's. The rule is that if you hit with a low blow, you have five minutes to recover, and if you can not recover, it is a TKO. So Khan has lost so. On the one hand, he was thoroughly and forcefully controlled and was probably happy to accept this invitation to end the fight. on the other hand, you have to admit that this part of the boxing rules leaves a lot to be desired in terms of fairness, as it gives little incentive not to beat someone as hard as possible in the nuts, just to see if you can explode them. This is a topic for another day.

In the interview after the fight, Khan was covered with bloody scratches on his shoulders. He was dominated and he knew it. He gave much credit to Terence Crawford's skills. And what did Terence Crawford say about the man he'd just defeated – the man whose trademark is his speed? He said, "Benavidez and Gamboa were ten times faster than him." Benavidez, struggling against Crawford, wore a huge knee brace and could barely move his leg.

Well, that's a mean motherfucker.


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