Boxer Terence Crawford has had a little more time to prepare for his NABO lightweight title bout against Alejandro Sanabria Jr. on Saturday at the American Airlines Center than for his prior match.
Just a week before the Mike Alvarado-Brandon Rios II fight in Las Vegas in March, Crawford received a call telling him he would move up from an undercard fight and take part in the co-feature event, replacing Khabib Allakhverdiev, who suffered an elbow injury in training before the fight against Breidis Prescott.
The Omaha, Neb., native also moved up to the junior welterweight division to take the fight.
Crawford, 25, believed then that this was his big shot.
“I’ve been put on a lot of big undercard fights and it was just my time, and I got the call and I was just like, ‘this is my time,’” Crawford said. “I’ve been a workhorse for eight fights, and now it’s time to put on.”
Crawford (20-0, 15 KOs) answered that call to action perfectly, going the distance in the 10-round bout and beating Prescott by unanimous decision in a fight he entered as a big underdog.
“I felt like Prescott underestimated me, thinking I was too small and he was too big and too strong and kind of looked over me,” Crawford said Thursday at the news conference for Saturday’s fight.
The win in his first HBO televised appearance vaulted him into a second nationally televised co-main event, this time battling for a belt.
He’ll face Sanabria, a fighter with two years more experience at the pro level and 16 more fights under his belt. Sanabria rides a 10-fight winning streak into the AAC on Saturday, including a signature win over 2000 Olympic silver medalist Rocky Juarez in a 12-round unanimous decision in 2011.
Sanabria (34-1-1, 25 KOs) has yet to drop a title fight in his professional career.
While slightly less experienced, Crawford has his fair share of skins on the wall, which include beating Saturday’s defending featherweight champion in the feature event, Mikey Garcia, as an amateur in the 2006 U.S. National Championships in Colorado Springs in an 18-7 decision.
Both fighters boast a 75 percent knockout percentage. Sanabria has much more experience going the distance in a 10-round bout, the scheduled rounds for Saturday’s co-main event, with a 4-1 record. Crawford has just one 10-round decision, his win against Prescott in March.
Dressed simply in his team-branded warm-ups among the sharp dress suits that lined the news conference stage, Crawford remained humble amid the hype surrounding Saturday’s fight and his budding career.
“I don’t feel the need to talk trash or say this or say that. I let my hands do the talking for me,” Crawford said. “I train hard and I prepare hard mentally and physically, and I’m just ready to fight.”