OMAHA, United States (AFP) – Terence Crawford retained his World Boxing Organization lightweight title and kept his undefeated record intact with a unanimous decision over the number one contender Ray Beltran on Saturday.
The 27-year-old Crawford dominated the 12-round fight, switching to a southpaw stance at times to land shots, and making Mexico’s Beltran miss before counterpunching effectively.
In the final round, Crawford (25-0, 17 KOs) was going for the knockout but Beltran managed to hang on and even landed a few left hooks of his own to keep Crawford at bay.
“I felt he was slowing down,” said American Crawford, who was fighting in front of his hometown crowd at the CenturyLink Center arena in Omaha, Nebraska. “I didn’t want to get careless. I just stuck with what was working.
“I saw his eyes swollen but I just stuck to the game plan.”
Crawford, who came into the ring almost 20 pounds heavier than at the weigh-in, wants to move on from the 135-pound division to 140 pounds.
“This is it for (lightweight division)” Crawford said. “I been at 135 since I was 17. I am 27 now. It is time to move up.”
Crawford landed 243 punches compared to just 96 for Beltran and also had a big lead in total punches thrown, 436-162.
Despite all the punishment he was taking, Beltran (29-7-1, 17 KOs) continued to plough forward and even had enough left in the tank to make it an entertaining 12th round.
“I prayed to God to give me the strength, but I forgot to pray to take it away from him,” Beltran said.
Russia’s Evgeny Gradovich kept his world title after fighting Jayson Velez to a draw in their featherweight fight on the undercard.
The three judges were deadlocked with one having Gradovich the winner 117-111 and another gave it to Velez 115-113. The third scored it even 114-114.
Both fighters remained unbeaten with Gradovich moving to 19-0-1, nine KOs and Velez on 22-0-1, 16 KOs.