Newly crowned welterweight world champion Terence Crawford is slated to return to the ring on Oct. 13 in an ESPN-televised world title defense against Jose Benavidez at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska, FightNights.com has learned.
Crawford (30-0, 24 KO's), a Nebraska native, who trains in Colorado Springs, has won world titles in three different weight classes, and became the first undisputed champion since 2004 with a third-round knockout of former champion Julius Indongo in a four-belt unification bout last August. The fight marked the first four-belt unification fight since Bernard Hopkins knocked out Oscar De La Hoya to claim all the belts in the 160-pound division.
The 30-year-old Crawford, one of the top pound-for-pound boxers in the sport, made his highly-anticipated debut in the welterweight division in June, and he made his mark as he clinically dismantled WBO titleholder Jeff Horn, who was never in the fight, and was picked apart by Crawford's clean counter shots.
Last week, Crawford was recognized by the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame for being named 2018 Fighter of the Year at their annual awards show in Las Vegas.
Long one of the sport's top prospects, the 26-year-old Benavidez (27-0, 18 KO's) scored a controversial unanimous decision victory over Mauricio Herrera to win the interim WBA super lightweight title in December 2014. He made one defense before moving up to welterweight to seek a title in that division. However, his world title aspirations were put on hold in August 2016 after he nearly lost his life when he was shot in the leg by a lone gunman while taking his dog for a walk in a Phoenix neighborhood. He was also shot on the pinky finger of his right hand and sustained injuries to his left leg. A suspect was never apprehended.
After 18 months out of the ring, Benavidez returned in February with an eighth-round TKO over journeyman Matthew Strode, and a first-round knockout of unknown Frank Rojas in June on the undercard of Crawford-Horn at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
There is some bad blood between both fighters. In February, before Benavidez hit the scale to weigh-in for his scheduled bout on a Top Rank show, he spotted Crawford, who was in attendance to help trainer/manager Brian McIntyre prepare for his role in helping with the commentary of the Top Rank telecast, and confronted him about why he had "ducked" him.
"I don’t duck you," said Crawford, who was smiley at first, but things quickly mushroomed. Now with a stern look on his face, Crawford warned Benavidez to, "Focus on your fight, ‘fore you not make it to your fight.’"
On Oct. 13, we should find out who is the better man in the ring.