By Ian S Palmer
Unbeaten WBC and WBO Super Lightweight Champion Terence Crawford will be defending his titles at Madison Square Garden in New York this Saturday, May 20th when he squares off against Felix Diaz of the Dominican Republic. The 12-round bout can be seen live in North America on HBO while UK fans can catch the action on BoxNation. Crawford won the WBC title last July when he beat Viktor Postol of Ukraine by unanimous decision and then defended it against John Molina by eighth-round stoppage in December. Diaz also fought in December when he stopped Levis Morales in the sixth round.
The 29-year-old former lightweight champion Crawford enters the ring with a perfect record of 30-0 with 21 Kos. He possesses excellent foot and hand speed and better-than-average power. He’s an accurate puncher who sometimes changes to southpaw and owns a solid chin, but sometimes gets off to a slow start. Basically, Crawford is the total package and is considered as one boxing brightest stars. He could eventually move up to the welterweight division at 147 lbs, but can’t look past Diaz. Crawford stands 5-feet-8-inches tall with a 70-inch reach and has boxed 155 rounds since turning pro in 2008.
Crawford also owns wins over the likes of Thomas Dulorme, Raymundo Beltran, Dierry Jean, Hank Lundy, Breidis Prescott, Ricky Burns and Yuriorkis Gamboa and his current knockout ratio stands at 70 per cent. He beat Dulorme by sixth-round stoppage for the vacant WBO title in April of 2015. He’s defended the WBO title four times and the WBC crown twice. Crawford isn’t impossible to hit though, but Diaz doesn’t have much power and will likely try to outbox the champion. Crawford usually improves as the fight goes on and he’s comfortable in both a boxing match and a slugfest.
The 33-year-old Felix Diaz Jr. is a southpaw and former two-time Olympian who won a gold medal as a welterweight at the 2008 Games in Beijing, China. His lone loss as a pro was a 12-round majority decision to former titleholder Lamont Peterson in October of 2015. Diaz will climb into the ring with a record of 19-1 along with nine Kos. He has a three-inch height and reach disadvantage against Crawford as he’s just 5-foot-5 and has a wingspan of 67 inches. Diaz has 115 rounds under his belt since turning pro in 2009 and his current knockout ratio is 44 per cent.
Diaz hasn’t fought any top contenders either other than Peterson and perhaps Sammy Vasquez, but he performed quite well in those bouts. He isn’t the most powerful puncher in the division and has to rely on his fine boxing skills. Let’s put it this way, they don’t hand out gold medals at the Olympics to just anyone. However, because of the height and reach disadvantages he needs to get on the inside against Crawford, but lacks the power to keep the champ off of him. Look for the Crawford to use his size to advantage and nail Diaz as he gets into range.
Diaz is going to have to get close to Crawford and outbox him since it’s unlikely he has the power to stop the champ. However when all is said and done, Crawford should still be the champ and likely by decision.