In a match Ricky Burns needed to win to prove he was still atop the lightweight class, Terence Crawford took both the belt and the throne away as he pummeled the Scottish champion to remain undefeated.
The new WBO Lightweight Champion had to go to a decision against Burns, but Top Rank Boxing provides a look at the final scores, which prove Crawford was in control:
It was never going to be an easy win for Crawford, especially given the fact that he was behind enemy lines in Scotland. But his cool demeanor and hard-hitting hook were the equalizers during his resounding win on Saturday night.
Leading up to the fight, Crawford spoke about the situation and how prepared he was for the bright lights in Burns' home country, per David Anderson of The Mirror:
Ricky has got the whole of Scotland depending on him. In the States, we’ve got lots of world champions. In Scotland there’s only one - Ricky Burns. The whole country is riding on Ricky because, without him, what is Scotland?
The fans won’t like it, but I am fine, I don’t care. What can they do apart from yell and scream? I’ve fought the boos before and I’ll do it again on Saturday.
Needless to say, Crawford wasn't going in scared—and why would he?
Bud experienced a breakout year in 2013 when he defeated the likes of Breidis Prescott, Alejandro Sanabria and Andrey Klimov. Those three boxers had a total of 76 wins, five losses and one draw, with each bout slowly working him up the ladder to take on Burns.
Klimov was previously undefeated at 16-0 before stepping into the ring with Crawford and lost by a unanimous decision.
With a win over an undefeated opponent already, the fights didn't get any easier against Burns. The Scottish champion had gone 21-0-1 since 2007 but was coming off a fight in which he broke his jaw against Raymundo Beltran.
Despite all of the pressure leading up to the match, Crawford didn't succumb to any of it and crushed the crowd, as Dan Rafael of ESPN points out:
Burns been on borrowed time for the past few fights. Crawford went to his turf and took it, no doubt about it. #boxing— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) March 1, 2014
While Crawford is sitting on top of the lightweight class now, Burns experienced a steep fall from grace in front of his home crowd.
Following his bout with Beltran, the controversy swirled around Burns due to the finish. Beltran believed he won the match cleanly and should have been the one defending the belt against Crawford, according to Sky Sports:
Burns is just making excuses to look good to his fans and prove that he is a brave guy, which I agree he is brave, but stop lying and keep it real. [...] The fact is that at the end of the day I whooped him. I broke his jaw, I sent him to the canvas and I beat him clear.
He just had the advantage because I wasn't just fighting him; I was fighting the referee and the judges. If we fight in a neutral place he knows what's going to happen.
The last part of that comment once again shows why Crawford's win was so big for his career. The win was so decisive that even the judges in Scotland couldn't deny him the belt.
Will Crawford be able to defend his belt?
But with the loss and subsequent handing over of the belt, Burns' career is taking a rough turn in the wrong direction. Many, including Beltran, believe that the 30-year-old should have two straight losses and have his career firmly on the mat.
Moving forward, it should be interesting to see who Crawford squares up with in his next match to defend his title. While Beltran seems like a prime candidate, the Nebraskan has made it known that he wants to fight in his hometown of Omaha.
At juts 26 years old, Crawford could be set for a sensational career as the undefeated WBO Lightweight Champion. But if Burns proved anything about the sport, it takes just one tumble to be considered headed in the wrong direction.
Crawford has earned his belt; now he has to defend it against the world's best.