Smith vs. Crawford: A Rare Moment of Poignancy
By Ted Sares - This, to me, is a dead-even fight. As always in fights such as this, the winner will be the boxer who can dig deeper. I’m leaning a little bit towards Smith to find the answers to the questions that will be asked of him in this first-rate match. --Graham Houston
Article posted on 11.10.2009
The fact that he made it out of that round [the sixth] was incredible --Steve Farhood
I’d rather him blame me and end it like I did than have them take him out on a stretcher --Mikey Red” Skowronski, Henry Crawford’s manager ..
On October 02, 2009, Henry Crawford (22-0-1) fought Antwone “The Truth” Smith (16-1-1) as a co-feature to the Allan Green-Tarvis Simms bout in Newkirk, Oklahoma shown on Showtime’s ShoBox. It was billed as an evenly matched and risky bout fight between two talented fighters who have fought close to the same number of rounds.
The fight did not disappoint as Crawford looked predictably sharp in the early going, but Smith, as is his wont, kept the pressure on and displayed some neat old school defensive moves including shoulder rolls and giving angles (though he clearly has some offensive flaws). Crawford began to gas around the fifth stanza as he reacted to Smith’s incoming, albeit somewhat plodding, tenacity. Then it happened.
In the sixth round, the tiring Crawford was decked and though it did not appear hurt initially, well, looks are deceiving. He was then subjected to two minutes of scary brutalization from “The Truth” who, the truth be known, is not a great closer. Crawford, who eyes were glazed and whose hands were down, was defenseless and on Queer Street big time and was knocked from pillar to post. The fight could easily have been stopped by Referee Gerald Ritter, but the bell rang saving Henry from further and potentially dangerous damage. This was not a pretty thing to witness. And what made it ugly was that as far as I could determine, the ring side doctor never examined Crawford between rounds. The trio of very able announcers, Curt Menefee, Steve Farhood and Antonio Tarver, agreed 100% with this assessment.
Crawford then regained some life and actually won the next two rounds putting together some neat combos, but they were more flash than pop. Smith, for his part, had tired badly from throwing so many shots in the malefic sixth round, and this allowed Henry to get back into the duke.
In the ninth, the fighters began evenly enough and it appeared Crawford may have gotten back his legs as he moved smartly around the ring, but then they exchanged simultaneous rights each designed to end matters and Smith’s landed first. Crawford fell back into the ropes and his eyes fell back into his head. He was as done as done could be, but somehow, someway got up. Before Smith could hit him again, the bell rang.
Right there and then, the fight should have been stopped. The courageous Patterson, N.J. native was totally out on his feet and wobbled staggered back to his corner at which point his trainer (Mike Skworonski) screamed, "Wake up! Wake him up!" When Skworonski asked him several times if he was good to go while sponging his face, Crawford indicated he was, but he did so on instinct. Then, and this is where the poignant moment took place, the trainer put his hands around his charge’s head acknowledging how brave he was. He immediately turned around and waived the fight off saving Henry Crawford from certain disaster. He did the right thing, even if the referee and ring physician may have seen things differently.
The question remains, however, where was the ring physician while Henry Crawford was on his stool between the ninth and tenth rounds? Indeed, why did he not visit the corner and examine Crawford’s condition asking him how he felt after the sixth and ninth rounds?
Now then, Larry Hazzard used to be criticized for being overly zealous when (as N.J Boxing Commissioner) he would leap into a ring and stop a fight before a referee, corner, or doctor made that decision. Larry Hazzard should have been ringside during this fight.
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