Projected for greatness by the older fighters at the C.W. Boxing Club as a youth, Terence “Bud” Crawford lived up to lofty expectations by becoming a top-ranked amateur and then Omaha’s first world champion.
The Omaha Bryan graduate made history in March 2014 when he dethroned longtime WBO lightweight champ Ricky Burns over 12 one-sided rounds in his hometown of Glasgow, Scotland. In doing so, he became Nebraska’s first world champion since Perry “Kid” Graves in 1914.
Crawford then defended his belt twice in Omaha later that year.
In June, he knocked down former Cuban Olympic gold medalist and three-division world champ Yuriorkis Gamboa four times in a sensational nine-round technical knockout. The action-packed contest, the first world title bout held in the city in 42 years, was later named the WBO’s Fight of the Year for 2014.
On Thanksgiving weekend at the CenturyLink Center, Crawford cemented his status as the best lightweight in the world by dominating the division’s No. 2 fighter, Raymundo Beltran of Mexico, in a nearly flawless 12-round unanimous decision to claim the vacant Ring magazine lightweight title belt.
The three masterful performances, in the first three world title fights of his career, earned the Omahan the Boxing Writers Association of America’s Sugar Ray Robinson Award as its 2014 Fighter of the Year.
Crawford moved up to junior welterweight to open 2015 and became a two-division champion by knocking out Puerto Rico’s Thomas Dulorme in a WBO title fight in Arlington, Texas, in April. The victory earned the unbeaten champion a spot on Ring magazine’s coveted top 10 pound-for-pound list.
In the summer of 2015, Omaha’s champ was a finalist for the ESPY Award for fighter of the year.
Although virtually no one from the Midwest would fight him as a teenager, Crawford had an outstanding amateur career. He was ranked No. 1 in the U.S. at lightweight, won the National Police Athletic League title, finished second at the 2006 National Golden Gloves in Omaha (although most believe he won the championship bout) and placed third at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials before turning to the pro game.
Even with his amateur accomplishments, Crawford didn’t land with a top-notch promoter for quite a while. He believes the reason he was overlooked was because he came from a place off the boxing map.
“If I wasn’t from Omaha, my name would’ve been bigger,” said Crawford, who proudly wears “Omaha” on his trunks. “It would’ve been out there more because I’d have been in a hotbed of boxing. Being in Las Vegas, California or even Texas, there’s a lot of boxing going on out there, and there’s nothing here. Whoever came out of Omaha, Nebraska, for boxing besides Max Baer — and he moved when he was a little kid? Nobody.”
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Best athlete from Nebraska played with or against: “My cousin, AJ Kercheval. Everything we did, he was better than me. It didn’t matter if it was racing, football, basketball, flipping, boxing; he was always better.”
Best moment as an athlete: “Going over to Scotland and winning the title. That was the best moment of my life.”
Early sign of greatness: “When I started playing sports, I could do anything if I put my mind to it. I was a great athlete in any sport I ever did. When I was 10 or 11, I finally started really noticing.”