Crawford Dismantles Kavaliauskas
By Robert Ecksel on December 15, 2019
It was a dramatic end to a competitive, action-packed bout. (Mikey Williams/Top Rank)
In Saturday’s main event televised live on ESPN from Madison Square Garden in New York City, Terence “Bud” Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs), the three-division champion from Omaha, Nebraska, retained his WBO welterweight title by stopping number one ranked Egidjius “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas (21-1-1, 17 KOs), the two-time Olympian from Kaunas, Lithuania, at 0:44 of round nine.
Fighting out of the red corner in black trunks with red and white trim, Crawford controlled the pace and distance from the opening bell and again showed why many consider him the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport. In addition to the requisite speed, power, killer instinct, and Mensa-level ring IQ, he also, as we learned tonight, has a granite chin, which was tested by the 16:1 underdog hoping to dethrone him.
Kavaliauskas, fighting out of the blue corner in black trimmed with gold, deserved his shot at the crown. He came to fight and came to win and gave as good as he got during the back-and-forth exchanges in the first half of the bout. The “Mean Machine” appeared to stun Crawford, an ambidextrous boxer-puncher who fought mostly from a southpaw stance, and had more success against the champ than any man he had previously faced.
Crawford switched to orthodox past the midway point and proceeded to take over the fight for good. He dropped Kavaliauskas with a looping right hand behind the ear as round seven was drawing to close. After reasserting his superiority in round eight with some picture-perfect uppercuts, the champion dropped the challenger twice in round nine, first with an uppercut following a three-punch combination, then with a hook that forced referee Ricky Gonzalez to save Kavaliauskas from both Crawford and himself.
It was a dramatic end to a competitive, satisfying, action-packed bout.
After the fight, Crawford said of Kavaliauskas, “He’s a strong fighter. He’s durable. But I walked away from everything he threw all night. I was loading up a lot because the first couple of clean shots I landed, I knew I hurt him. I wanted to give the crowd a knockout. But once I let my hands go, I saw he was affected by my fatal shots.”
Teofimo crushes Commey
In the co-main event, Teofimo Lopez (15-0,12 KOs), the sizzling hot prospect from Brooklyn, New York, stopped Richard Commey (29-3, 26 KOs), the reigning and defending IBF lightweight champion from Accra, Ghana, when referee David Fields waved it off at 1:13 of round two.
Lopez planned the end with precision. Commey followed Lopez dipped down low—and got nailed with a hard right hand that dropped him to a knee. Commey tried standing, but he was on Queer Street and tumbled face-forward to the canvas. He was in no condition to continue.
Many have declared Teo a superstar in the making, and none as insistently as Teo himself, and while some had their doubts, especially after his last outing against Masayoshi Nakatani, the disbelievers have been silenced in light of his stunning victory over a highly-regarded champion.
“I’m at a loss for words,” said Lopez after the fight. “Anything is possible. It’s a blessing on blessing. Dreams come true.”
With his ascent to IBF champion, 22-year-old Lopez is guaranteed a lightweight unification bout against Vasiliy Lomachenko, who holds the WBO, WBC and WBA titles, and is also promoted by Top Rank.
That fight is slated for April 2020.