Crawford has world of options

Terence “Bud” Crawford short-listed himself for title of Fighter of the Year with another superlative performance and could well be pound-for-pound king within a couple of years.

Crawford retained his WBO lightweight title with a unanimous points verdict over the bullish Ray Beltran at the Century Link Center, Omaha, Nebraska, on Saturday.

It was Crawford’s third world title bout this year and afterward he announced moving up from 135 pounds to the 140-pound light-welterweight division. Having campaigned at lightweight for the past 10 years, Crawford said he felt ready to move up to for fresh challenges.

Unbeaten Crawford thrilled the 11,000 fans who turned out to see their hometown hero as his record improved to 25-0. Beltran is 29-7-1.

Beltran dedicated this fight to the 43 students who were killed in Mexico recently.

“The children were killed by the Mexican government,” Beltran, 33, said. “I’m from Mexico and we have real problems there. There is no justice for the poor.

“Abuse of power. I want to do what I can to stand up for what is wrong, so I dedicated this fight to those lives that were lost.”

There are plenty of quality matches Crawford, 27, hopes for, top one being Manny Pacquiao, who fought last week. His trainer Freddie Roach said that the Filipino superstar is moving back to light-welter from welterweight.

With a match against Floyd “Money” Mayweather unlikely, Pacquiao wants a highly respected opponent to maintain his profile, boost his bank balance and increase public clamoring for a clash with the reluctant American.

Crawford fits the bill perfectly for Pacquiao, who, unlike Mayweather, is prepared to take on the best to reinforce his legacy.

In June, Crawford boxed superbly in overpowering the teak-tough Yuriorkis Gamboa in nine rounds. Three months earlier, Crawford went to Glasgow and comprehensively outpointed Scottish hero Ricky Burns to take his title.

Crawford has single-handedly revived boxing interest in Omaha, the last big professional match there being a title fight when heavyweight legend Joe Frazier stopped challenger Ron Stander in 1972.

Crawford may face Ruslan Provodnikov next, one of Roach’s fighters.

If that does not happen, the likes of Danny Garcia, Adrien Broner, Lucas Matthysse, Lamont Peterson, Chris Algieri and Jessie Vargas are viable opponents. Any one of them would draw back the paying public that has long lost patience with mismatches at championship level.

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