By Bill Dwyre
Las Vegas – Speed kills. Saturday night, in a big-time boxing arena, in a big-time battle for future fame and riches, a Porsche took on a Ford Fairlane. The result at the finish line was never in doubt.
"The Iceman" Viktor Postol, a nice 140-pounder from Kiev, Ukraine, with a title belt that said WBC, summarized: “He was too fast. I had no answer for him.”
Freddie Roach, a Hall-of-Fame trainer who had prepared Postol, seconded that summary: “He surprised me how fast he was.”
The “he” in all this was Terence "Bud" Crawford, the pride of Omaha, Neb., and now lineal king of the sport’s 140-pounders, with ownership of both Postol’s World Boxing Council (WBC) belt and his own World Boxing Organization (WBO). In boxing, they call that title unification. Also in boxing, they call what Crawford did to Postol, in front of 7,027 in the MGM Grand Garden Arena here, a rout.
The three judges, Guido Cavalleri, Don Trella and Dave Moretti, made the rout official. Cavalleri and Trella scored it 118-107, or 10 rounds to two with a 10-7 fifth round, when Crawford knocked Postol down twice. Those were both kind of rinky-dink knockdowns, Postol losing his balance and touching his knee down after a routine punch, and then later touching the canvas with his glove after another. The most interesting part of the scoring was Moretti’s 117-108 that included a 10-9 round for Postol, even though he had been penalized a point during the 11th round by referee Tony Weeks for hitting Crawford behind the head.
Those details mattered much less than the significance of Crawford’s victory, and the domination therein. Top Rank Promotions, of whom Crawford is a part, must now find the best-possible opponent for its star, Manny Pacquiao, who took a boxer’s retirement (defined as saying you are going to quit and then you don’t) and will fight Nov. 5 at the Thomas and Mack Center here. If boxing is to creep back into the sports’ public mainstream, as it recovers from the 2015 Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr., farce, Pacquiao’s next fight must be appealing and actually competitive. Not just promoted as such.
While Saturday night’s Crawford - Postol fight wasn’t one of those on-the-edge-of-your-seat battles, Crawford’s speed and excellence will certainly give some fans hope for some real drama against Pacquiao. Bob Arum, Top Rank’s founder and chief executive, kept it close to his vest after the fight, saying that the night was for celebration for Crawford and not for decision-making quite yet on a Pacquiao foe. All reports had Arum grinning as he said it.
Boxing is in deep need of mainstream superstars. Crawford may have just sprinted into that picture. The current biggest name in the sport -- Mayweather is retired, too, and likely will be back soon -- is Gennady Golovkin, known affectionately as Triple G. Golovkin has a hard time getting big-name fighters to box him. Most recently, one of those, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, beat Amir Khan impressively and motioned to Golovkin, in the audience, that he wanted him next. But after Canelo and his handlers slept on it, they decided to take a different fight in September in Dallas. Speculation now is that Canelo will be ready to fight Triple-G sometime around 2040, if they can find an arena in a rest home.
After Crawford-Postol, the only hesitation in canonizing Crawford might be the question of just how good Postol really was. He had earned the spot in this fight with a stunning knockout of Lucas Matthyyse. But once Postol got in the ring with Crawford, it was readily apparent that a good fighter was taking on a great one.
Postol tried to stalk Crawford, but it was like trying to catch a bird with your bare hands. Postol was like a hunter, trying to adjust his gunsight. But once he did, the target had disappeared. He fought from a straight-up, jab-arm-extended stance that triggered memories of grainy news-reel films of Max Schmeling. Crawford’s strategy was simpler: Now you see him, now you don’t.
Crawford gave credit to his trainer, Brian McIntyre, who studied Postol on film and concluded that he had to be stationary to throw a decent punch.
“We kept moving, so he couldn’t do that,” Crawford said.
The only possible negative for Crawford Saturday night was his hot-dogging and trash-talking in the 12th and final round. Postol was trying his best to swing for a knockout. He and all 7,027 in the place knew that was his only chance. Crawford, of course, was too fast for that, but taunted Postol’s valiant effort. Crawford could take a lesson on that from Mayweather, who probably made close to a billion dollars in purses in his splendid and unbeaten career, but had fewer fans than he might have, had his comportment been a bit less abrasive.
As it turned out, the 7-1 Vegas odds on Crawford that so many found out of line -- Roach called that outrageous and said it should have been an even fight -- were about right. Roach had even put down a $1,000 bet on his fighter, but it is clear now that that was more in investment in public relations enhancement than a real expectation of a cash windfall.
Crawford’s windfall from Saturday night was $1.3 million. That’s likely a pittance compared to what he might get to fight Pacquiao.
Postol will take home $675,000, and that may go fast. When he arrives, he will see, for the first time, his twin sons, born last Tuesday. Diapers aren’t cheap.
Bill Dwyre will be writing a series of weekly columns on the Crawford vs. Postol world championship event. Bill was sports editor of The Los Angeles Times for 25 years, ending in 2006. He was a sports columnist for 9 1/2 years at The Times, ending Nov. 25 with his retirement. Boxing was among his most frequent column topics. Bill can be contacted at BillPatDwyre@gmail.com or via Twitter at @BillDwyre.