Jose Benavidez Jr talked a great game, and then Terence Crawford walked one.
Crawford improved to 34-0 (25 KO) with a 12th round stoppage of his rival, retaining the WBO welterweight title in the process. The official time of stoppage was 2:42 of the final round.
Crawford and Benavidez (27-1, 18 KO) looked well enough matched for the first half of the fight, but then, as usual, Crawford turned it up and started to run away with the bout. Benavidez, who had never been in near this level of a pro fight before, began to tire as the fight went on, and the lights just got a bit too bright for the man who was once considered a top, blue chip-level prospect.
Crawford dropped Benavidez with about 45 seconds left in the fight on a brutal right uppercut, and stopped him with 18 seconds remaining, when the referee stepped in as Crawford went for the finish against the ropes, a final right hook crashing into the side of Benavidez’s head.
For Crawford, it’s another win, a successful first title defense at 147 pounds, and hopefully the setup for something bigger, even if that’s more wishful thinking than anything. Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Roberto Arriaza are looking set for a WBO eliminator on November 16, and the winner of that is probably more likely to be next than someone like Errol Spence Jr or Shawn Porter.
As for Benavidez, he showed glimpses of that old promise, but eventually it was just a matchup a bit beyond his schooling, which was not at all unexpected. He still has plenty of potential at age 26, and if he can get back on track, could find himself back in world title fighters in the not too distant future.