It was, by any measure, a big win, one which suddenly launched Postol to the top of the list of contenders for Bud’s 140-pound crown. (While both men own title belts, Bud is the unquestioned leader of the division.) I was perhaps less impressed than most with Postol’s victory, however, having predicted the win after long subscribing to the theory that Matthysse was overrated for many of the same reasons that Postol may have been underrated. That is, because Matthysse looks so good in a boxing ring that it was easy to ignore his many flaws.


Given that I believe Bud is on a trajectory to become the best fighter of his generation, and that I once described Postol as looking like a scarecrow wearing boxing gloves, I should feel exceedingly confident that Crawford will win tonight’s fight. But that would be wrong. What makes boxing so compelling is the fact that anything can happen. The awareness that one punch can change any fight in an instant. It is the greatest leveler and lie detector in all of sports. When two undefeated champions on the rise meet in the ring, every second of every round is a new universe in which the old laws of physics no longer apply. Every exchange of every fight is a chance to fundamentally rewrite both history and the future.

My head says that Bud, preternaturally calm as ever (not “oddly detached,” as a recent Kevin Iole headline described him), does his thing tonight. That he feels Postol out for a few rounds, figures out what the Ukranian brings to the table, and then does what only Bud can do: morphs himself into an entirely new fighter, a bespoke opponent designed specifically to take away whatever Postol has, and finishes the job when the moment is right. A stoppage around Round 10 seems about right.


My gut, though, isn’t nearly as confident. It’s worried that the power Postol flashed for the first time against Matthysse may be real. That Freddie Roach has found yet another unpolished foreign diamond and begun shaping it into a point so sharp that it can cut steel. It’s worried that those long arms and awkward movements may catch Bud off guard. That the tantalizing prospect of a big money showdown with the dessicated husk of Manny Pacquiao in November may distract Bud from the very real challenge he faces tonight. My head is right more often than my gut, but it’s the feelings in my gut that dictate how much I will enjoy a fight. The butterflies I feel watching a fighter I love take on his most dangerous challenge are worth every penny of the price of entry.

Yes, there is nothing like a championship fight between two undefeated fighters. There is nothing like the feeling of watching when a punch land squarely, when the momentum of a fight shifts, when an almost imperceptible change in tempo or in posture heralds a tsunami of activity. Imagine if every moment of baseball was the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 7 of the World Series. Imagine if every moment of football was a two-minute drill at the end of the Super Bowl. If every horse race was the homestretch of the Kentucky Derby. That’s a championship fight. That’s boxing. That’s why tonight is worth your money. Enjoy.