In Thursday’s announcement of his new multiyear deal with Top Rank Boxing, Terence “Bud” Crawford reiterated his desire to square off against all of the other champions in his sport’s toughest division.
To get those fights, the WBO welterweight champion from Omaha must first get through an unbeaten challenger from Phoenix who has been clamoring for a fight with Crawford for years.
Crawford (33-0, 24 knockouts) and Jose Benavidez Jr. (27-0, 18 KOs) will finally meet in the ring Oct. 13 at the CHI Heath Center in a title fight that will be televised nationally on ESPN. Tickets for the WBO welterweight championship bout, priced from $38-$178, will go on sale Sept. 11 at 10 a.m.
“The Crawford-Benavidez fight is an old-time grudge match,” said Top Rank founder and CEO Bob Arum, who promotes both Crawford and Benavidez. “These are two elite fighters who don’t care for each other, to put it mildly. They will battle each other at a fever pitch. I can’t wait to watch the action.”
Arum suggested in June in Las Vegas that this matchup could be coming. That came after Benavidez annihilated unbeaten Frank Rojas in just 84 seconds on the undercard of Crawford’s welterweight title bout with former champion Jeff Horn. It appeared to be the fight he was targeting to bring to Omaha all along.
“The kid wants Terence,” Arum said then. “And I don’t think it’ll be a difficult match to make.”
Benavidez made it known in Vegas that he wanted a shot at Crawford’s WBO belt. His one-round demolition of Rojas came in a WBA eliminator, putting him in line for a welterweight title opportunity.
“Of course I want to fight Crawford,” Benavidez said then. “I’ve been wanting to fight him for years now. I don’t duck and dodge anyone. And I’ll fight anyone at 147. You name it, I’ll fight him. I don’t care.”
Benavidez claimed that Crawford’s team passed on fighting him when both were competing at 140 pounds. Crawford dominated at junior welterweight, unifying the four titles before moving up to 147.
“I was supposed to fight Crawford twice, and it didn’t happen,” Benavidez said. “I said yes on my part. Our team said yes. We don’t dodge anyone. We want to fight the best. That’s what we’re here to do.”
Earlier this year, Crawford and Benavidez exchanged words in Corpus Christi, Texas, before the latter was scheduled to fight there. Crawford told his next foe to focus on his fight or he wouldn’t make it to the ring.
“When you’re weighing in, you’re kind of cranky, and he was right there smiling,” Benavidez said of the incident that was captured on video. “I don’t like taking (expletive) from anyone. And I told him, ‘They offered you the fight twice, and you didn’t accept it. If I’m that easy, why not fight me to shut me up.'”
Crawford, who then told Benavidez they could take the exchange outside, now intends to do that.
“This fight is the fight he has been calling for, and now he will get the chance to see what it’s like to be in the ring with a real champion,” Crawford said. “I’ll happily give him his first (loss).”