Crawford vs. Kavaliauskas Keys to Victory: Can "The Mean Machine" pull-off massive upset?
Tonight at the legendary Madison Square Garden, current WBO Welterweight champion Terence "Bud" Crawford (35-0-0, 26 KOs) will attempt to make his third successful title defense against the very hungry and undefeated Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KOs) of Lithuania.
The championship contest will be the main event of a brilliant Top Rank triple-header, which will be televised on ESPN right after this evening's NCAA Heismann Trophy presentation. Although official coverage begins at 9:00 PM ET, avid fight fans can view the entire fight card from NYC on ESPN + at 5:45 ET.
This is Egidijus Kavaliauskas' big opportunity. The "Mean Machine" has been fighting the great majority of his life just for this moment. For a prizefighter to compete in the Mecca of Boxing while battling for the WBO Welterweight championship is indeed a dream scenario. But against a rare talent like reigning titleholder Terence Crawford, will the Lithuanian fighter's dream quickly become a nightmare?
Keys to Victory for Egidijus Kavaliauskas
How does a fighter solve the "Crawford Cube" in the squared circle? Short of bringing a baseball bat and a machine gun into the ring, being the first man to defeat the boxing enigma that is Terence Crawford will be nothing short of miraculous. Especially when he's facing a very motivated TC, who genuinely believes he's being overlooked and ignored by several ranked fighters in the Welterweight division.
1) Close the Distance - One of the major problems Kavaliauskas faced in his long five-month training camp was preparing for both orthodox and southpaw stances in the ring. Because Bud is ambidextrous and can fight proficiently as a right and left-handed fighter, he had to spar against both orthodox and southpaw boxers. How does a fighter come up with an effective game plan against both styles?
The only way to take away an opponent's southpaw or orthodox position is to proficiently cut off the ring and close the distance between them. The Mean Machine will have to make this a short-range fight if he hopes to have any success in the ring. Because Crawford is so much faster than the Lithuanian native, it won't be easy. Egis absolutely must be patient and not try to lunge in from mid-range or he will get countered while out of position. He has to cut off the ring before trying to close in on the elusive WBO champ. When in range, Egidijus has to let his fists fly to both the body and head.
2) Be willing to trade punches- While Manny Pacquiao was in this prime, most of the Pacman's opponents were at an incredible disadvantage in speed. To overcome such a wide handicap, a fighter like the great Juan Manuel Marquez had to possess an iron chin, a willingness to trade punches, and the discipline to sit in the pocket while taking Pacquiao's best shots just to land his own effective counters.
To be successful against TC, who has a similar advantage in hand speed, Kavaliauskas will have to implement the same dubious JMM strategy and be absolutely fearless in the ring. Because TC has the much faster hands in this match-up, Egis must be willing to open up his offense while TC is throwing punches. It's the only chance the title challenger has to land something big due to the drastic disparity in quickness.
3) Be sporadic with different Jabs - Kavaliauskas likes to throw his lead left hand, which is usually a very intelligent maneuver. It's a fighter's first line of defense and the punch that sets the table for his entire offensive arsenal. In this case, the "Mean Machine" will have to "mix it up" and disguise his primary weapon. Although Egis likes to throw a strong, telephone pole type of jab, he'll have to combine it with lots of feints and touch jabs in different intervals to disrupt the timing and rhythm of a brilliant counter puncher like Terence Crawford. If he can effectively throw a mixture of feints, touch jabs and hard jabs with the same conviction, he could be successful against a real enigma like Terence.
If Kavaliauskas successfully implements all three keys to victory against one of the best P4P fighters in the world, he could shock the world and become the new WBO Welterweight champion!!
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