Crawford wins unanimous decision over Ray Beltran
Nov. 30, 2014
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — WBO lightweight champion Terence Crawford strengthened his bid for Fighter of the Year with a unanimous decision over top-ranked contender Ray Beltran on Saturday night.
Crawford won his third fight of 2014 and announced afterward he would move up to the 140-pound division.
"That's it," Crawford said. "I'm out of the 135. That's the last time you'll see me at this weight again."
Crawford was in control throughout the 12-round fight, using his jab to keep Beltran from getting inside and landing some timely big shots to remain unbeaten.
After the final bell, Crawford raised his hands in victory as his hometown crowd of more than 11,000 cheered him at CenturyLink Center.
The 27-year-old Crawford is 25-0. Beltran is 29-7-1.
In the co-main event, IBF featherweight champion Evgeny Gradovich and Jayson Velez fought to a 12-round draw.
The atmosphere at CenturyLink Center was as electric as it was in June when Crawford stopped Yuriorkis Gamboa. With billionaire Warren Buffett sitting ringside, "Crawford, Crawford!" chants started before the opening bell and were heard whenever the action heated up.
Crawford said he got caught up in the euphoria late in the fight.
"I tried to get a knockout because of my fans," he said.
He didn't land the knockout punch, but he didn't need to against Beltran.
Beltran came to Omaha intent on winning a belt that he thought should have been his last year when he went to Glasgow, Scotland, and fought to an unsatisfying draw with champion Ricky Burns.
Burns lost to Crawford in March, and after Crawford beat Gamboa, the stage was set for a fight with Beltran.
Crawford switched from orthodox to southpaw in the second round, and he used his speed and his jab to keep Beltran away.
Beltran delivered a powerful right to the head in the third but Crawford quickly recovered. Action picked up in the seventh round, with Crawford connecting consistently.
Beltran finally got to Crawford in the ninth, landing a big left hook. But he couldn't build off it, and Crawford ended the 10th and 11th rounds with Beltran on the defensive in a corner.
After the 11th, Crawford wore a big grin as he took the long way back to his corner.
"He's a great champion," said Beltran, Manny Pacquiao's longtime sparring partner. "I couldn't handle his timing or his counter punching. He's an amazing fighter."
The announcement of the draw in the 12-round Gradovich-Velez bout was greeted by boos. Most thought Gradovich (19-0-1) had won.
The Russian tried to take the fight to Velez but was frustrated by the Puerto Rican's jabs in the early rounds. Gradovich looked to take control in the middle rounds, and he landed several shots to the head in the ninth and hurt Velez in the middle of the 11th with a big right hook.
Velez (22-0-1) wouldn't stop and looked to catch a second wind in the final round, when the two traded blow after blow to the end.