Terence Crawford recognizes that some boxing observers believe Egidijus Kavaliauskas knocked him down during the third round of their welterweight title fight last December 14 at Madison Square Garden.
Crawford definitely disagrees with that viewpoint. The WBO 147-pound champion proudly points out, too, that what he did to Kavaliauskas thereafter is indisputable.
The undefeated Crawford withstood that third-round trouble, dropped Kavaliauskas once in the seventh round and sent him to the canvas twice more during the ninth round. Referee Ricky Gonzalez stopped their scheduled 12-round championship match 44 seconds into the ninth round, once Crawford connected with a right hook that floored Kavaliauskas for the third time in their fight.
Lithuania’s Kavaliauskas told BoxingScene.com before his subsequent bout that he knows he hurt Crawford with a right hand in the third round. Kavaliauskas contends that he should’ve been credited for becoming the first opponent to floor Crawford as well.
Kavaliauskas caught Crawford with a straight right hand with 1:35 to go in the third round that made Crawford bend over and wrap his arms around Kavaliauskas. Crawford’s left knee touched the canvas two seconds later, but Gonzalez ruled that Crawford didn’t go down as the result of Kavaliauskas’ punch.
Crawford gave his take on that controversial sequence during a recent interview with ESPN’s Andre Ward. Their conversation aired Sunday night as part of ESPN’s “Relentless: Terence Crawford,” promotional programming in advance of his title defense Saturday night against England’s Kell Brook.
“When I hit the canvas, you know, some people would say, ‘Oh, he got dropped,’ ” Crawford told Ward. “Some people will say, ‘Oh, well, he got pushed down.’ Whatever the case may be, you know, I was mad. You know, and in my mind and in my heart, I was just like, ‘I’m knocking this dude out.’ In my mind, I always said, ‘If I take your punch, your best punch, then you in trouble. Now, I know I can take your punch. I felt it. Now let’s see if you can take mine.’ So, then the fights begin.”
The more he hit Kavaliauskas, Crawford realized his previously unbeaten mandatory challenger wouldn’t last all 12 rounds.
“Every time I get close to him and I land a meaningful punch,” Crawford said, “I hear him, ‘Ugh!’ And I’d see it on his face, that he didn’t wanna fight. When I hurt a guy and I see that he’s hurting, it’s kind of like a lion chasing a gazelle with three legs. It’s food. You hurt, I’m coming. I’m coming to finish you.”
The 33-year-old Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs) will look to finish Brook (39-2, 27 KOs) in a 12-round main event ESPN will televise Saturday night from MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas (10 p.m. EST; 7 p.m. PST). Premier Sports 1 will begin its Crawford-Brook coverage in the United Kingdom early Sunday morning, at 12:30 a.m. GMT.
The Brook bout will mark Crawford’s first fight since he stopped Kavaliauskas (22-1-1, 18 KOs) almost 11 months ago in New York. Odds-makers have established Crawford, a three-division champion from Omaha, Nebraska, as at least a 14-1 favorite over the 34-year-old Brook.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.