Terence Crawford (26-0, 18KO) defends his WBO title against Dierry Jean (29-1, 20 KO).
Crawford always seems to overcome adversity. Thomas Dulorme was the ideal opponent to defeat Crawford this past April. Dulorme was taller than Crawford, had an arguably better reach, and far superior hand speed. Crawford was frozen by Dulorme's powerful combinations for the first several rounds. But Dulorme's combinations were predictable, allowing Crawford to time him with counters.
Dulorme's lack of endurance resulted in his punch output dropping severely as the rounds went on thus allowing Crawford to finally control the action with his own offense. Finally, Dulorme's reputation of a bad chin resurfaced whereby Crawford won by stoppage. Were it not for Dulorme's own shortcomings of stamina and punch resistance, he may have easily outpointed Crawford.
Crawford similarly struggled against Ricky Burns and Yuriorkis Gamboa early on before making adjustments. As with Dulorme, speed is what primarily troubled Crawford who himself has showed a slowness of hand speed and reflexes. Against Burns and Gamboa, Crawford adjusted to the speed by increasing his height and reach advantage by fighting southpaw. Even then, particularly with Gamboa, Crawford had a tendency to square up his shoulders in a way that negated his length and exposed him to straight right hands from an orthodox opponent.
|Crawford scored a big knockout over Yuriokis Gamboa last year. Image: RingTV|
On the other hand, Crawford dominated Ray Beltran whose only threat was his power.
Heaps of praise Crawford celebrates for his ability to fight both orthodox and southpaw. However, in every recent fight – all of them – in which Crawford switched to southpaw, it was because he struggled from an orthodox stance. Personally, I think Crawford has better balance, combinations, and power from an orthodox stance. There is a noticeable lack of follow-through with his straight left hand and a tendency to square himself up from southpaw. Truly, Crawford is better technically from orthodox than southpaw, but has been having most of his success from a southpaw stance.
Jean has the hand speed and reach to land effectively on Crawford. His vulnerability is in getting countered if he chooses to be aggressive. I expect Crawford to want to go southpaw here. From there, he can use his height to jab downward at Jean who has a tendency to keep his lead hand low. But this is also where Jean should become more aggressive because Crawford's balance and power are not as good from a southpaw stance.
The most likely outcome is a decision from Crawford based on the dominance of his jab from a southpaw stance. The way to gauge improvement with Crawford is to see how long and how successful he can be from orthodox.
Crawford-Jean airs Saturday at 9:30 US Eastern on HBO.