Terence Crawford retained his WBO lightweight title and kept his undefeated record intact with a unanimous decision over No. 1 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 Crawford, who was fighting in front of a 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 [were] swollen, but I just stuck to the game plan,” the American added.
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 [the lightweight division],” Crawford said. “I [have] been at 135 since I was 17. I am 27 now. It is time to move up.”
Crawford landed 243 punches compared with just 96 for Beltran and also had a big lead in total punches thrown, with 436 to his rival’s 162.
Despite all the punishment he was taking, Beltran (29-7-1, 17 KOs) continued to plow 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.
In the featherweight fight on the undercard, Russia’s Evgeny Gradovich kept his world title after fighting Jayson Velez to a draw.
The three judges were deadlocked, with one having Gradovich the winner 117-111 and, with Gradovich moving to 19-0-1, nine KOs and Velez on 22-0-1, 16 KOs.
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