Crawford forces Diaz's corner to stop fight

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NEW YORK — Junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford showcased his considerable skills at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, doing pretty much whatever he wanted against a brave but outclassed Felix Diaz.

In the end, it was up to Diaz’s trainer, Joel Diaz, to do the sensible thing and tell referee Steve Willis to stop the fight, which he did at the end of the 10th round, giving Crawford (31-0, 21 KOs) a TKO victory.

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It was Crawford’s fifth successful defense of the 140-pound title. The outstanding performance probably didn’t improve his chances of getting a big-money bout with Manny Pacquiao, but he definitely proved he belongs in the ring with boxing’s elite.

“I’ve been saying that for years now,” Crawford said. “It’s not up to me. But everybody wants to know who’s the next guy that Terence Crawford wants to fight. I’ll fight anybody. It doesn’t matter who it is.”

Diaz (19-2, 9 KOs), the only boxer from the Dominican Republic to win an Olympic gold medal, was a quality opponent but was virtually helpless against Crawford’s mastery.

“No excuses, I lost to the best guy at 140 pounds,” Diaz said through promoter Lou DiBella.

Boxing from a left-handed stance, Crawford bedeviled Diaz with right-handed jabs, setting him up for ripping combinations. Crawford’s savvy footwork enabled him to fight at whatever distance he wanted and create advantageous punching angles.

Diaz, 33, just couldn’t get close enough frequently enough to do much damage. When he did get within range, Diaz was usually ineffective, and his wild swipes missed the mark more often than not.

Crawford, on the other hand, was painfully accurate, mixing his punches well and making especially good use of uppercuts on the inside. Diaz’s eyes began to swell as early as the fourth round, and if it were not for his courage and durability, the fight would not have lasted as long as it did.

Diaz’s best round was the seventh, when he buzzed Crawford with a left, but the moment passed quickly. The loss was Diaz’s second against 19 wins, including nine KOs.

“I stopped the fight because I didn’t want him to take any more punishment,” Joel Diaz said. “Enough was enough.”

Promoter Bob Arum said Crawford could next look to unify titles against Julius Indongo this summer.

Beltran knocks out Maicelo in Round 2

In the chief supporting bout Saturday night, Raymundo Beltran put himself in line for a title shot by scoring a one-punch knockout of Peru’s Jonathan Maicelo in the second round of a lightweight eliminator.

A wicked left hook to the head put Maicelo flat on his back, and referee David Fields stopped the fight at the 1:25 mark without a count.

Maicelo (25-4, 12 KOs), whose head bounced off the canvas, was taken from the ring on a stretcher but appeared to be conscious.

Beltran (33-7-1, 21 KOs), who is riding a late-career hot streak, went down in the first round from an accidental clash of heads, which Fields mistakenly ruled a knockdown. The impact cut both men, Maicelo on the scalp and Beltran over the left eye.

Beltran made sure the cut wouldn’t become a factor, ending matters in the next round.

During the buildup to the fight, Beltran’s lawyer said looking impressive would help Beltran’s chances of getting a green card and becoming a permanent resident of the United States. That remains to be seen, but he couldn’t have asked for a better performance.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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