The Second Shot

08/09/2023 The Second Shot

By: Jeff Yoder

How Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford Overcame Bullets, Bullies & Boxers to Reach 40-0

You might think you know Terence Crawford. Unless you’re one of the few boxing aficionados who follows the sport religiously, you might only be aware of his impeccable record (40-0), his lengthy career (15 years), or his welterweight belt collection (all of them). But you don’t really know Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford. Heck, I’ll admit I didn’t really either. Until I was tasked with researching and writing this story, and I’m glad I did.


In our sports underdog features, the athletes overcome setbacks, losses, traumatic or unfortunate events, and rise into the spotlight, sometimes for a brief moment. In rare occasions, they reach sports immortality. And while I believe the underdog spirit lives in all of us, Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford is the underdog, evolved. He’s Underdog+ — the premium version. And after last week’s 9th-round TKO against Errol Spence Jr. for the unification welterweight crown, he’s due for the spotlight. If you don’t know Crawford, get ready.


The Early Life of ‘Bud’ Crawford

A tumultuous childhood in Omaha, Nebraska gave ‘Bud’ Crawford the nickname, resiliency and determination for one of boxing’s great origin stories. The nickname ‘Bud’ stemmed from the midwest rural moniker frequently given to a child — bud, buddy, etc. It stuck. But Crawford’s picturesque midwest family story stops there. His father was absent most of his life, and a chaotic relationship with his mother, Deborah, was often difficult and unwelcoming. Crawford was a fighter from the age of 7, getting in dust-ups at school and mingling with the wrong crowd.


He began boxing as a teenager and put his violent energy into something more constructive and organized. He lost more than a dozen fights as an amateur. But in 2008, Crawford turned pro, and an eye-opening moment changed his trajectory.


The Shot That Changed Everything

At 20 years old, Crawford reached a fork in the road. His career path would either lead him into professional boxing and a life away from Omaha, or he’d find himself stuck in a cycle. Or worse; dead. A matter of millimeters would decide the difference.


In September, 2008, Crawford was 4-0 as a budding pro and beginning to gain attention. In just a few short weeks, he would fight in the 140-pound division on ESPN. But instead of training, Crawford was shooting dice under a street light in Omaha, and winning, in the early hours of the morning. Once he was up big, he took his cash and called it a night.


Sitting in the driver’s seat of his 1986 Cutlass, he began to count his winnings when a stray bullet went through the rear window and into Crawford’s head, just above his neck and below his right ear. Had the bullet landed a fraction of an inch closer to his brain, the shot could’ve been fatal. The gun was fired by a man at that same dice game on the street, aimed at another individual. Crawford was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.


A few hours later, he laid in a hospital bed with his neck stitched up. His trainer, Bob McIntyre, was at his side. Contemplating life shifted his mindset, and there was no going back to the old cycle of immature decisions that could’ve ended his life.


“When I got shot, it changed my life tremendously, and put me on the right path… And that’s when everything started happening there for me with boxing and my family and just everything. My life just took a big turn and started going uphill.” (CNN Interview)


Shortly after, his son was born, and the legend of Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford — the father, professional, and business man — had a storybook opening. On November 8, less than two months later, he was back in the ring for his fifth pro fight. Another knockout (5-0).


40 Fights of Glory

After 15 years, 34 more fights, and an unblemished record (39-0), the 35-year-old went toe-to-toe last week with Errol Spence Jr. and cashed in a 9th-round KO. Crawford owned Spence Jr. all night before the referee mercy-ruled the 9th round. Now, he’s 40-0 with 31 KOs. The prize? The unification that makes him the undisputed welterweight champion in all four categories (WBO, WBC, IBF & WBA). And 40-0… That’s special. Real special.


In the history of boxing, less than a dozen fighters have started a career with an unblemished 40-0 mark. Usually, the bludgeoning of 40 fights would end your career somewhere along the way. Only few true legends have fought much beyond 40 bouts. Those iconic names are synonymous with monuments, movies, and statues across the world. Here are a few in the pantheon of boxing’s modern era, and the list could soon include Terence Crawford:

  • Muhammad Ali (56-5-0, 37 KOs)
  • Sugar Ray Robinson (175-19-6, 106 KOs)
  • Joe Louis (68-3-0, 54 KOs)
  • Mike Tyson (50-6, 44 KOs)
  • Floyd Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs)
  • George Foreman (76-5-0, 68 KOs)
  • Evander Holyfield (44-10-2, 29 KOs)
  • Lennox Lewis (41-2-1, 32 KOs)
  • Rocky Marciano (49-0-0, 43 KOs)
  • Joe Frazier (32-4-1)
  • Manny Pacquiao (62-8-2, 39 KOs)
  • Roberto Duran (103-16, 70 KOs)

And now, Terence Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs) flirts with boxing immortality. Some obstacles in life make us fight harder, but harder isn’t always the answer. In this case, a second shot at life pushed Crawford to fight for better. Better for himself, his family, his son… right into boxing’s short list of the everlasting.


Fight on, Bud.


Photo: Al Bello / Getty Images