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Kriegel delves into the enigma that is Terence Crawford: “I’ve never met anyone like him.”

This Saturday, welterweight champion Terence Crawford (33-0, 24 KO) will make his hometown title defense against Jose Benavidez Jr. (27-0, 18 KO) from the Chi Health Center in Omaha, Neb. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes 10:30 p.m. ET with undercards live at 7 p.m. on ESPN+).

ESPN boxing analyst Mark Kriegel sat down with Crawford for a conversation about his childhood, his relationship with his mom and fatherhood. The interview airs tonight during ESPN’s live coverage of the weigh-in (ESPN2, 5:30 p.m.). Kriegel also profiled Benavidez for ESPN.com.

“I profiled Terence Crawford for ESPN.com last spring – so I already had an idea where I was going here,” said Kriegel, who will also call the bout alongside Joe Tessitore and former world champion Timothy Bradley Jr. as well as reporter Bernardo Osuna. “The way Crawford is in the ring – able to switch from orthodox to southpaw, left to right – is a metaphor for how he is in the world, switching good to evil, sadism to empathy. I’ve never met anyone like him.”

If you delve into the lives of fighters, you’ll find moments of trauma and conflict that made them fighters. In my experience, it usually has something to do with his or her father – or lack thereof. In Crawford’s case, it’s his mother.

- Kriegel

During the interview, Kriegel gives fans a window into the man Crawford is outside the ring.

“He does a fair amount of charity work, particularly for kids, in his hometown of Omaha and in Africa, too. He enjoys helping people,” Kriegel said. “If you’ve seen him fight, you know he enjoys hurting them, too. It’s not a contradiction he feels a need to reconcile. He’s comfortable with the man he’s become, and what he comes from.”

To understand where he comes from, Kriegel spent some time with Crawford’s family, including his mother, Miss Debra.

“If you delve into the lives of fighters, you’ll find moments of trauma and conflict that made them fighters. In my experience, it usually has something to do with his or her father – or lack thereof. In Crawford’s case, it’s his mother,” Kriegel said. “I’d spoken to Miss Debra in the spring. This was different, though. This was on camera. You don’t know how people are going to react.

“She’s tough. She has a temper. I was pretty nervous,” he said. “Good thing then, that producer Matt Ruhe didn’t seem to be. Anyway, for someone who said she didn’t like being interviewed, Miss Debra made herself a thoroughly empathetic figure. As soon as she said she wasn’t comfortable with the word ‘love,’ you knew she had her own pain.”

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– Molly Mita