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Terence Crawford’s Jab

Terence Bud Crawford's Power Jab
"Bud" Crawford often chooses to fight southpaw, despite being a right hand dominant fighter. His resulting jab is devastating.

Throughout his star-studded career, Terence “Bud” Crawford has scored numerous knockdowns using his jab. From the orthodox position, Crawford’s right hand would be in an expected orientation. But he often chooses to fight southpaw, despite being a right hand dominant fighter.

This puts his power punching hand right in front, nearest his opponent, and in a dangerously deceptive position while it’s there. The old adage is that you’re supposed to jab a jabber, and some opponents even have limited success jabbing with Crawford. But trading jabs with Terence Crawford over the course of a fight is a painful, nonsustainable strategy.

Chances are, you won’t take his jab away; he’s too long. A junior welterweight with a 74″ reach, blinding hand speed, knockout power, cat-like reflexes and seemingly impenetrable defense is difficult to hit. “Bud” Crawford knows this before he gets into the ring with his opponents, even if sometimes they don’t.

It completely disrupts an opponent’s gameplan when Crawford lands a hard right hand with the speed of a jab at an awkward angle from the southpaw position. Some don’t see it coming at all, and have no idea what happened after it lands.

Terence Crawford vs. Ricky Burns

Ricky Burns’ corner seemed to advise him, correctly, to start working his own jab. But throwing a jab back to try to disrupt Crawford’s jab just opens you up to run into Crawford’s power jab even harder, amplifying it’s already devastating momentum. It wasn’t long before Burns decided to abandon the jab as an offensive weapon. That’s when his trouble with Crawford really started. 

But before that happened, Ricky Burns attempted to contend with Crawford for jab dominance. Burns has lots of hand speed and power, and had some success touching Crawford in the early rounds. But by the time Crawford slid into his rhythm, Ricky struggled more and more to find him. 

Crawford vs. Burns Jab Exchange

Crawford sets a trap for Burns

In this exchange, Crawford stalks Burns low, showing an opening in his defense. With his right hand low and his head at chest height, Burns couldn’t resist but try to land a quick left to Crawford’s head. You can’t blame him, it looks like Crawford is at the perfect range.

But that range is just long enough to entice a Burns jab, which Crawford anticipated. Catching him in the trap, Crawford unleashed his own punch with the southpaw right hand over Ricky Burns’ jab. Burns tried to follow through his combination but Crawford knew it was coming, slipping deftly to the outside, leaving Ricky out of position.

Burns was clearly thrown off balance by the power of the counter right hand from Crawford and the unexpected loss of equilibrium resulting from it.

Crawford Hooks Off Burns’ The Jab

terence crawford splits ricky burns' guard

Crawford was already having success with his jab against Burns, and had earned his respect with it. Every time it hit him, it had a serious effect on him. In round 5, Burns and his corner were starting to understand that they needed to take away Crawford’s jab before it ruined their whole night. When Crawford threw a sharp right jab and split the high guard of Ricky Burns, Ricky immediately unleashed a counter.

But Crawford hadn’t commited his weight completely to the initial jab; his excellent technique and extra long reach allowed him to deliver the shot at full force and turn over a right hook to Ricky’s head when he reached in to counter Crawford’s jab. It happens so quickly, that many probably missed it.

Crawford Catches Burns

But Ricky didn’t. He stopped trying to counter the jab immediately, leaving Crawford to encroach upon his space further and further.

Crawford vs. Brook

Terence Crawford Lands a right against Kell Brook

Terence Crawford vs. Kell Brook was a much shorter fight than Crawford vs. Burns. From watching, it seemd possible that Brook understood he needed to take away that devastating jab of Terence Crawford when the two met at welterweight. Brook used speed, quickness, and uncanny timing to hold him at bay. Eventually, he decided it was time to make a stand against Terence Crawford, and he stood in front of him for a few seconds.

Fighting a southpaw as an orthodox fighter can be uncomfortable if you’re used to fighting other right handed fighters. Fighting Terence Crawford look like it’s just always uncomfortable. Terence uses a deep understanding of the discomfort he can cause by fighting in an open stance.

He knows what’s going to make things difficult for a right handed fighter, because he’s a right handed fighter. He knows what works as a left-handed fighter because he’s…well, a left-handed fighter too. Because he’s so fluidly ambidextrous, Terence “Bud” Crawford has a unique perspective on the subtleties that will cause an opponent’s gameplan not to work.

Crawford knew that Brook was priming his right hand for a counter as soon as he came within range of him. As soon as their gloves touched, Brook knew that he was within range to land a sharp straight right. He’d leaned forward slightly, loading the punch up, but before he even threw it, Crawford’s right jab landed flush to the center of his face.

Brook’s right hand technically still landed, and popped Crawford’s head back a little, but Crawford’s right handed landed much harder, seeming to scramble Kell Brook completely. He never recovered from this shot, and Terence stopped him soon after.

Crawford vs. Horn

Jeff Horn was billed as the toughest opponent Terence Crawford had ever faced. Horn had come off a controversial decision win against the legendary Manny Pacquiao in Australia prior to this fight, and made a name for himself as a tough, inside brawler with dubiously absent technical boxing skill. Many thought this was the type of opponent to give Crawford the unsoluble problem.

All throughout the leadup to the fight, there was much ado about a perceived size disadvantage that Crawford would have to overcome. It was expected that Crawford, having moved up in weight all the way from 135 lbs., would struggle to deal with the size and physicality of Horn, a filled out welterweight.

In the Pacquiao fight, Horn used pressure and did a lot of leading with his head. Eventually, a clash of heads, ruled an accidental headbutt, caused a fight altering cut behind Manny’s hairline. He fought on valiantly, but the sight of the blood may have been enough to convince the judges that Horn had beaten Pacquaio. Seeing his success using these tactics in the Manny fight, Team Horn likely saw fit to try that same play against the very different Terence Crawford.

But instead of bullying a smaller finesse fighter who’d moved up in weight just a bit too far, Horn ended up eating steady courses of Crawford’ punches. Power jab after power jab eventually had the effect of taming Jeff Horn, slowing his charges and making him respect the right hand. Crawford’s speed and reflexes aided him in establishing great distance control. Even when Horn sprinted directly at him from short range, Crawford somehow still had ample time to drop heavy, concussive counter shots regularly throughout the fight.

Crawford’s jab can be the difference maker in his fights, but then, so can a lot of his other skills. When he’s forced to adapt by an opponent, he seamlessly switches to new styles and stances and shows similar levels of mastery in each. What usually stays consistent is his ability to disrupt an opponent’s offense with his deceptively powerful jab.

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