Paul “Ferocious” Crawford lived up to his name at Front Street Fights 10 on December 9th, landing blow after blow with a heavy left hand to earn a first-round knockout of opponent Michael Fuentes. For Crawford, his first knockout win would be the last of his amateur career. That’s because the Wilder, Idaho fighter will return to CenturyLink Arena on February 24th, this time as a member of his first pro fight card at Front Street Fights 11, presented by Bodybuilding.com.
Crawford will square off with Jacob Hauck, who is stepping in for his fourth pro fight but his first in three and a half years. After one the most dominant performances on his fighting resume, Crawford intends to bring the same aggression to his bout with Hauck.
“I’m expecting to get another knockout. I’ve been training real hard and I think I’m going to get another knockout like last time,” said Crawford.
Preparing for a fight against a professional opponent certainly requires an athlete to raise his level, and Crawford has done so. In addition to returning to train at Combat Fitness with Coach Jesse Brock, Crawford has also given more attention to his endurance in the cage.
“I do more cardio now because the main thing I’ve needed to work on was my breathing. I do cardio every morning and I do a lot of running with the oxygen mask on,” said Crawford. “I do a lot of speed drills, running on the treadmill and that good stuff with footwork. I like to dance to and you’ll see a lot of that. I like to dance around and I put some of that to use too.”
Combat Fitness always has a strong presence at Front Street Fights, and working with Brock is helping Crawford to develop his ground game as well.
“They’re watching me and they’re helping me prepare for this fight, and I’m excited for that. (Brock) is a good coach and I like his attitude. It feels like home for me training with them,” said Crawford. “With my wrestling and grappling, they’ve got really good jiu-jitsu there. I’ve got to get that right, because I’m not trying to be tapped out early.”
Crawford views himself as a well-developed and complete fighter, saying he felt ready to turn pro in Texas when he took part in a fight at Fort Hood Military Base. That bout gave him the confidence which gained more steam after his win at FSF10, where all of his recorded fights have taken place.
A fighter making his professional debut can certainly benefit from having the crowd on his side, especially for a fighter that has already fought in front of Boise fight fans several times. Still, that rapport with the fan base is not built over night.
“When I first started fighting, I had a problem with the crowd. I was always nervous,” said Crawford. “Now, after my last fight, people come up to me and they want to see more. Now I feel like I can perform and do even more than what I was doing just a couple of months ago.”
That confidence is in part fueled by his knockout win, which is sure to give a fighter credibility with the crowds. But in addition to fan support, Crawford says that prayer helps keep him focused in the cage.
“It’s God who keeps me focused. When I’m in the cage I use my scriptures from the bible and it helps. When I’m in the cage I feel protected and I know God has my back,” said Crawford. “As soon as they blow the whistle I’m coming at you.”
With that, Crawford is only worried about himself and putting in the work to prepare physically, emphasizing the things he does well. Crawford is more worried about what he can do, as opposed to what he’ll see from Hauck.
“I don’t look at (opponents’) fights because someone can come at me different. I can look at their old fights but then they’re still going to come back at me every time,” said Crawford, noting that he did all of his damage in his last victory with his left hand.
“I noticed in my last fight that my opponent had his right hand glued to his chest, but I’ve got a right hand too and they haven’t seen that yet.”
FSF fans will see the right hand on the 24th, along with the best-conditioned and most focused version of Paul “Ferocious” Crawford that they have ever seen. For the first time they will see a professional Paul Crawford.
“Once my foot touches the floor of the cage, I’m good. I like to get hit and I’ll look for them to hit me, but if I smell the fear on them then I’m coming at them like I did last time,” said Crawford.
“I’m ready to get in there and perform great.”