Undefeated World Junior Welterweight Champion and top pound for pound fighter TERENCE “Bud” CRAWFORD (30-0, 21 KOs), of Omaha, Neb., will make his 2017 debut, Saturday! May 20, at the Mecca of Boxing, Madison Square Garden.
This will also be his debut headlining in the big room — a testament both to his talent and his growing popularity. Crawford will be defending his unified World Boxing Organization (WBO) / World Boxing Council (WBC) / Ring magazine titles against former Olympic gold medalist and top-rated contender FÉLIX DÍAZ (19-1, 9 KOs), of Brooklyn by way of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in a marquee all-action fight. It will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing, beginning at 10:15 p.m. ET/PT.
Crawford and Díaz, along with their respective promoters, Bob Arum and Lou DiBella, made themselves available in training camp for a pre-fight week Q&A Session.
Here’s what they had to say:
TERENCE CRAWFORD: I am very excited for this fight and looking forward to fighting in the big arena where all of the greats have fought. I am looking to put on a great show next week.
Most boxers do not call you out. Diaz has been calling you out for the last couple of fights. How do you feel about that? Do you get annoyed?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: When you are at the top of the division, everyone wants to fight the guy at the top, especially when they can get their name out there to boost their ratings. I didn’t take it as nothing really.
So it didn’t take much to get the fight done?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: Yes, of course, I never ran away from any challenge. He’s got the skills, he’s a good fighter, he is an Olympic Gold Medalist and this is the fight that a lot of people were calling for, and we are here now.
Diaz lost a razor close decision to Peterson that a lot of people thought he won. Did you see the fight and what did you think?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: It was a real close fight. Lamont was the favorite in that fight and he did what he had to do to get the job done, and this fight could be different.
Is Diaz the type of opponent that can bring out the best in you? Unlike Molina and Postol, do you think Diaz can give you a better challenge?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: We shall see. A lot of people look a the fights and ask who will bring out the best in Terence Crawford, who is going to bring out this in Terence Crawford – we want to see Terence Crawford in these types of fights. But again, I make my adjustments and it’s just that. So we are going to have to see how the fight is going to go or what is going to happen. I just fight the fight.
Bob, what are your thoughts about going up against Diaz, and maybe he is the guy that can bring out the best in Terence?
BOB ARUM: Felix Diaz in an Olympic Gold Medalist and that means something. A Gold Medalist has a lot of confidence and a lot of credentials and ability. I am delighted that he stepped up to the plate. His promoter Lou DiBella was very helpful in making the fight and very cooperative. It is going to be a terrific fight for the fans and Terence only wants to fight the best. Whoever is the best that steps up is the one Terence is going to fight. Terence has never ducked anybody. The whole time he has been with Top Rank he has never ducked an opponent. It’s not a question of matching him correctly. It’s not a question of being cautious. Terence will fight anybody who steps up to the plate.
Are you looking forward to the day where you get in a big like, a la Chavez-Taylor or Hagler-Hearns where you have to dig deep? Would you like that kind of fight?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: That’s what training is for. That’s what you train hard for. That’s what you prepare for because again, you never know what is going to happen in the ring. You have to prepare yourself for whatever your opponent might bring. I am prepared to go to hell and back to get the win. I train to prepare for whatever.
Even though Diaz is a Gold Medalist – there have been many Gold Medalists before him that didn’t make it as a pro such as Gamboa – do you think he can bring this out of you?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: We have to see. Like I said I have never fought the man yet, so I can’t say if he is my toughest opponent or not.
When you look at Diaz’ resume, what stand out to you?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: I don’t look at a fighter’s record. If a fighter can fight, he can fight, and that’s that.
Do you feel as though he has enough power to make you worry?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: I never underestimate any opponent. I just go in there and make sure I don’t get caught with anything – I don’t want to go in there and be careless.
If you were to give a report on his strengths and weaknesses, what would you say?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: I don’t know if I can give that because every fight is different. Each fighter fights every opponent different. If he had one weakness in his previous fights that might be different when he fights me. I have to make sure that I am prepared 110% for whatever he brings to the table.
You have been moving up in the P4P lists – do you pay attention to that? What do you think about the Canelo-GGG fight?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: I pay a little bit of attention to it but at the same time I look at it as status playing a big part in ratings but at the same time I just worry about winning and everything else will fall into place. GGG and Canelo – that is going to be a tremendous fight. I am looking forward to watching it whenever it happens, and yes, I think my name should be mentioned up there with theirs.
What do you think fighting in the big room will do to elevate your status in the boxing world?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: For me, going from the Theater to the big arena right now – that says a lot right now. I have to keep winning and putting on great performances and eventually my name is going to be bigger than it is right now.
Is there anything new in preparation for this fight?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: Nothing really new. Just trying to get better and working on the things that we know that we have to do to be the best.
RED SPIKES: I have no concerns. Terence trains hard. He listens. We get better in each camp. We make the proper adjustments to adjust to the opponents – his size his strength, his speed – and just making sure that Terence is the best person himself and properly prepared for the fight and after all the hard work is done in training camp there is nothing to be concerned about.
Gamboa has never been the same since you fought him – what do you think about that?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: I don’t know what I may have done to him in the fight. I can’t say I did this to him or I did that to him – you will have to ask him that.
Have you notice in his performance that he hasn’t been the same fighter?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: He’s been going through a lot of promotional battles and he can’t seem to stay active – that is one thing that I have noticed.
Bob, what does it mean for Crawford to fight in the big arena?
BOB ARUM: Obviously fighting in the main arena as the main event makes a statement and it’s what our plans are, and our plans are that Terence Crawford, before he hangs up his gloves, will be recognized as the greatest fighter of his time. That’s going to be up to Terence but he has the tools, the personality and the ability to reach that goal. And our job as a promoter is that he has every opportunity to show the world that he is the best fighter of his era. Fighting on the big stage that is Madison Square Garden where Ali fought and where Marvin Hagler fought, where Oscar De La Hoya fought and now where Terence Crawford is fighting is a step in that direction. It’s clear – obviously we could have taken the fight to Omaha and have a massive sellout like we always do, but we decided that we wanted to showcase Terence at the Mecca of Boxing, Madison Square Garden. We are going to have a tremendous crowd – tickets are going extremely well and we have dressed up the card with really great young fighters – like Shakur Stevenson; like Fazliddin Gaibnazarov the Olympic Gold Medalist in Rio who comes from Uzbekistan; Teofimo Lopez, a rising star in the sport; and it will all come down to the main event, which will feature Terence Crawford and it will be a statement that he will make in his quest to become the best fighter of our era. Simple as that – there is no place else in boxing, with all due respect to Las Vegas and other arenas, there is no place in boxing that has the symbolism and the history of Madison Square Garden. Now Terence will have the opportunity to perform on the biggest of all stages – the Mecca of Boxing.
Terence, can you speak about fighting outside of Omaha and becoming a draw in other places?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: Yes, I have been fighting away from home all of my career – basically all of my life, that I never really had a lot of amateur tournaments in Omaha, Nebraska, so it says a lot. I have been traveling and traveling and traveling to fight here and there. The first time I had the privilege to fight in Omaha, it was a big turnout, so big that everybody that came in felt like this was the only place that I ever fought at – in Omaha. So for me to go to other cities and being able to sell out, and have a lot of people from Omaha follow me, shows the type of career that I am having – and it’s a tremendous career.
What do you think people will learn about you in the “Camp Life” video?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: You can learn that I train real hard and that I am a real humble guy. You should watch the “Camp Life” and you can be the judge.
The fight many would want to see is Pacquiao-Crawford, is that a fight you could see happening if they get through their opponents?
BOB ARUM: I don’t like to project too far ahead, but I would agree with you. I am not content with guys fighting once or twice a year. That is BS. Guys have to fight regularly. Terence will fight in May and Manny is fighting in July. Terence would I think if he gets through this fight well, to get back in the ring again in the summer and then we will look to the fall. Would Pacquiao and Crawford be a good fight, a big fight, a big attraction? You bet your ass it will and we will, all things being equal, we will do our best to make that fight. I think the public wants to see it and the public will support it. Manny Pacquiao has been a great fighter and a great attraction. I love Manny Pacquiao. Manny Pacquiao is the kind of guy who is not afraid to step up and fight anybody. Terence Crawford is the rising star in boxing. Everybody would love to see that fight, but that’s all I can say about it. I agree with your assessment, that it’s a fight that the fans want to see, and if it’s a fight that the fans want to see, a promoter has the obligation to make it happen.
Would that fight, if it came about, be at 140 or 147? Terence, do you have thoughts about moving up in weight?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: Well, right now I am fighting at 140 and that is my main focus right now and who knows what the future may hold. If I need to fight at 147, I’ll fight at 147 and if I need to fight at 140 I’ll fight at 140. Right now I am focused more on Felix Diaz than anything else.
Is Pacquiao on your radar? Is that somebody you’d like to fight?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: No question Pacquiao is someone I would like to fight, but if it’s not in front of me then I am really not worried about it.
Barring Pacquiao and assuming you get by this fight, who else is at 140 that you could fight that could bring you A) the kind of money that you could make (B) the kind of attention hat you would like and (C) in your weight class. Is there anyone?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: Julius Indongo is.
So you would like to unify the titles?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: Of Course
CARL MORETTI: Indongo will be at the fight.
BOB ARUM: He is a good fighter this kid. That’s a guy that people haven’t heard of because he hasn’t fought in the United States but our matchmakers say he is a damn good fighter and apparently looking forward, down the line. I disagree that there are not any fighters at 140 that want to fight. Mikey Garcia keeps shooting his mouth off about going up to 140 to fight Terence – I mean that’s a possibility. Again, if we put him in with Manny – Manny is a 147 pound champion, but Manny goes into the ring at 144 pounds and to even go in the ring at 144 he has to eat about 5000 calories a day, or more, when he is training, because Manny is not a big welterweight.
How about besides Pacquiao?
BOB ARUM: Besides Pacquiao, there is this kid, Julius Indongo that is coming on that is a very good fighter that I think holds the other two titles now at 140 – that’s a possibility and there is the possibility of Mikey Garcia.
There was an announcement with Indongo after he beat Ricky Burns, that his promoter was going to work with Eddie Hearn – have you spoken to them?
BOB ARUM: Indongo is coming to the fight and we will all talk to him when he comes to the fight. If the kid wants to fight Terence, then that’s the time to talk to him. If he doesn’t want to fight Terence then Eddie Hearn or the African promoter or any other promoter, then there is no sense talking. If the kid says he wants to fight Terence, and that’s the fight, then we’ll make it happen. And you will have the opportunity, I assume, to interview this kid on Saturday at The Garden.
Would he be coming to the fight if he wasn’t interested in fighting Terence?
BOB ARUM: Well, there you go.
There has only been one other time in boxing history where the fighter has unified all four titles so it is extremely rare…
BOB ARUM: For people that think that’s important, that would be a great thing.
TERENCE CRAWFORD: Well, I never kept track of how many people have ever had held all four titles, but it is one of my goals to say that I am undisputed champion.
Bernard knocked out Oscar to unify the four middleweight titles and then Jermaine won to win those four titles, so those were the two guys but only the one fight to unify the four titles. Did you watch the Indongo-Burns fight and what did you think?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: I watched the fight and he put on a great performance. He did what he had to do to get the job done. He’s tall and rangy and he can box. It would be a good fight.
Stylistically it seems like it would be a crowd pleaser – do you think?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: Of course.
This will be the first time in a long time you have fought a true left-hander. Did it change preparation?
TERENCE CRAWFORD: I prepare for whatever. I have fought left handers before in both the amateurs and pro and it won’t be any different come Saturday night.
RED SPIKES (Assistant Coach): Just what Terence said. He was No. 1 in the amateurs for three years in a row and fought all over the world against, Cubans, Canadians, Venezuelans, left hand, right hand, tall, short – he is one of the best in the game at adapting. He’ll be OK Saturday night.
LOU DiBELLA: I am really looking forward to what I think is a really good fight and I am really happy with all of the karma coming out from the media with this fascination with Indongo who has never fought in the US and does not have the resume that Felix does because the more you talk about Indongo, the more mojo is thrown in our direction. I know how good Crawford is. Felix knows how good Crawford is. The media knows how good Crawford is, but he is not G_d, he is not unbeatable. He’s had tough fights and I think he’s had tough fights with guys like Gamboa, who was a little guy who gave him a tough fight for a while and Diaz has a lot of the same attributes when it comes to pressure and style which could make it a very difficult night for Bud. Felix has wanted this fight forever. This is a kid that grew up with nothing. A poor kid from the Dominican Republic that became a top amateur and became the Dominican’s only Olympic Gold Medalist in the history of the country in 2008. The only gold medal for boxing in the Dominican. This is the culmination of a professional boxing career that began in 2009. Joel Diaz in California trains him. He moved up to welterweight and had a big win against Sammy Vazquez. He had to move up to welterweight to get that opportunity. He’s got a lot of other quality wins and I thought he beat Lamont Peterson. He’s beaten Emmanuel Lartey and Adrian Granados and Gabriel Bracero before he lost to Peterson. I think this is the toughest challenge that Terence Crawford has ever had and I’m looking forward to it – it is going to be in New York and there will be a nice Dominican contingent there to support Felix.
Felix, you worked hard to call out Terence, which a lot of people do not do. How do you feel now that you have the fight?
FÉLIX DÍAZ: I called out Terence because Terence is the best in the division. It is a big opportunity for me to fight at Madison Square Garden against Terence Crawford.
What is it about Crawford that you think you can beat him?
FÉLIX DÍAZ: With his style, I know I can beat Terence Crawford. Crawford has fought no one like me. Stylistically, I can beat him.
Indongo is going to be ringside for the fight and Bob Arum hopes that if all goes well they can set up that unification fight.
FÉLIX DÍAZ: I am definitely motivated that I am being overlooked and that I am the underdog. But I have my own plans. I am going to destroy Top Rank’s plans.
What could you take away from the Lamont Peterson fight – that many people thought you won?
FÉLIX DÍAZ: I learned a lot in that fight and got the experience of fighting one of the great fighters in the division. It is great to have the experience to go in there and go 12 rounds with that guy. Adapting to each fighter is different for each fight but having that experience of 12 tough rounds will really help me.
Do you feel that you have the power to scare Crawford at all?
FÉLIX DÍAZ: There is going to be a difference. I feel a lot stronger at 140. If you look you will notice that every person I fought at 140, I knocked them out, except for Granados, who I knocked down twice (rounds 9 & 10).
What did you see in the Postol fight that impressed you?
LOU DiBELLA: I didn’t see much about Postol that impressed me at all. Postol was fighting a really good fighter and that may have had something to do with it, but I don’t care if he was fighting Bozo the Clown, Postol brought nothing to that dance.
FÉLIX DÍAZ: I saw nothing from Crawford in the Postol fight – he did not impress me.
What were you not impressed with the Postol fight?
FÉLIX DÍAZ: I did not get to see the whole Postol fight but the parts I did see I was not impressed.
Do you think Crawford is overrated?
LOU DiBELLA: I think he is a damn good fighter. Do I think he is overrated? I think he has fought some smaller guys. I don’t think his resume screams of the best in the world but in this day and age not a lot of resumes do. Until someone proves otherwise he is a terrific fighter and Felix wanted this fight because he views Crawford as the best. I do believe that now he will be in there with a guy with real credentials who is a real 140-pounder. He has maybe fought a lot of guys that were smaller and not at the level of Felix. But I take nothing away from the guy – he is certainly one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the game today. Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of resumes that look like Hearns, Leonard, Duran, Whitaker or those kinds of situations any more because we have to do a better job of getting the best in with the best. I think the people should come out to The Garden on May 20 because this is an example of the best fighting the best.
How much do you think Crawford will switch back and forth to southpaw?
FÉLIX DÍAZ: It all depends on Crawford. When he sees what I am bringing in, he is going to have to adjust to me. I really can’t answer that question until we get in the ring to really see. I cannot anticipate what he is going to do until we get in the ring.
What does it mean to fight at The Garden?
FÉLIX DÍAZ: It is great to be able to fight at Madison Square Garden, the Mecca of Boxing and the Mecca of history. I know that a lot of the Dominicans from Manhattan and the Bronx and the Dominican communities will be coming out to support me.
What did you take away from the Peterson fight in Virginia?
FÉLIX DÍAZ: I don’t feel that I lost the fight. I did everything possible to win that fight. The judges were not on my side, maybe it was because of the style of the fight, but I feel I did enough to beat Lamont Peterson. I regret that I didn’t knock him out but
LOU DiBELLA: I think we learned that it’s not an ideal situation to fight a Virginian fighter in Virginia.
LOU DiBELLA: It took a long time to make this and maybe not under all of the terms we would have liked, but thank you to Top Rank and Terence Crawford’s team for giving Felix the opportunity and Felix is going to make the most of it on May 20.
FÉLIX DÍAZ: I would like to thank everyone that has made this fight possible and you will see on May 20 what I am able to bring to the table and I hope that people take notice.
The HBO telecast will open with RAY “Sugar” BELTRAN (32-7-1, 20 KOs), of Phoenix, AZ by way of Ahome, Mexico, and JONATHAN “The Last Inca” MAICELO (25-2, 12 KOs), of North Bergen, New Jersey by way of Callao, Peru, going mano a mano in a high-stakes battle of world-rated lightweight contenders. Sanctioned by the International Boxing Federation (IBF) as a world lightweight title elimination bout, the winner of the 12-round rumble will also lay claim to the vacant World Boxing Association (WBA) International and the NABF and NABO lightweight titles, currently held by Beltran. The world championship event will also feature the Pride of Newark and 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist SHAKUR STEVENSON (1-0). Stevenson’s bout and all the undercard bouts will be streamed liveexclusively via www.toprank.tv.
Promoted by Top Rank®, in association with DiBella Entertainment, Tecate and Madison Square Garden, remaining tickets to the Crawford vs. Díaz world championship event are priced at $250, $150, $100, $75, $50 and $35. They can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster charge by phone (866-858-0008), and online at www.ticketmaster.com and www.thegarden.com.