Terence Crawford retained the WBO lightweight title he won off Ricky Burns in March thanks to a thrilling ninth-round stoppage of Yuriorkis Gamboa in his home town of Omaha, Nebraska.
Crawford stepped into the ring in his own backyard for the first time a s a professional in the first world title fight to be held in the city in 42 years, and he did not disappoint his raucous following.
Cuban Gamboa, a 2004 Olympic champion, came into the fight unbeaten in 23 bouts and made a confident start with his quick hand speed taking him into a big lead when arguably winning all of the first four rounds.
But Crawford responded in style and floored Gamboa four times on the way to victory, the first coming in the fifth round which helped turn the fight in the American’s favour.
Gamboa was down again in the eight after being backed into a corner, but he continued and in desperation he rocked Crawford in the ninth with a heavy right hand.
26-year-old Crawford hit back though in a thrilling round and put Gamboa down twice more – the second of the round and fourth of the fight enough for referee Genaro Rodriguez to stop the fight.
I told Gamboa he picked the wrong fighter and the wrong city and I was right, Crawford said. I never felt any danger in the fight.
I was warming up, getting used to his style the first couple of rounds, just wanted to test him out, see where he was and adjust.
He caught me with a good shot. I got careless. I commend him. He caught me with a good shot I wasn’t ready for, and I felt I came back strong.”
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum plans to bring Crawford back to his home town of Omaha, and is eyeing a step up in weight for Crawford and a possible fight with superstar Manny Pacquiao.
We’ll be back in Omaha with him before the end of the year, Arum said. When you get a guy like Crawford, who is a great technical fighter but who also can slug, you have something special.
Down the road – and it’s very possible – that a year from now we put him in with Pacquiao. That would be a huge fight and a great fight. If you really think you have a great fighter with superstar qualities you move him that way, you don’t protect him.”