A deal is nearly finalized for newly crowned welterweight world champion Terence Crawford to return to the ring in an Oct. 13 ESPN-televised world title defense against Jose Benavidez at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska, FightNights.com has learned.
Sources say Benavidez has signed the contract and Crawford should sign within the next week.
Crawford (30-0, 24 KO's), a Nebraska native, is currently training in Colorado Springs.
The 30-year-old Crawford has won world titles in three different weight classes, and became the first undisputed champion since 2004 when he knocked out former titlist Julius Indongo in a four-belt unification last August.
Crawford, who ranks as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, stopped Jeff Horn in a one-sided bout in June to win the WBO welterweight title.
Last month, Crawford was named 2018 Fighter of the Year by the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame at their annual awards show in Las Vegas.
Benavidez (27-0, 18 KO's), 26, a fellow unbeaten Top Rank prospect, won an interim super lightweight title in December 2014 by controversial unanimous decision over Mauricio Herrera. He made one defense before moving up to 147-pounds to seek a title as a welterweight. His world title aspirations, in a scary event, 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. A suspect was never apprehended.
Benavidez fought for the first time in 18 months later this past 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.
Crawford and Benavidez got into it this past February before Benavidez was set to weigh-in for his fight with Strode, with "Bud" extending a cordial invitation to "step outside," even walking to the nearest exit to try and coerce his future opponent
Benavidez has called out Crawford for "ducking" him in the past, but if Crawford was willing to settle it on the street, Oct. 13 should be an intriguing night for both men.