Crolla & Khan Face Mission Impossible
Boxing history tells us that sometimes seismic upsets do happen in the sport. James ‘Buster’ Douglas shocked Mike Tyson, the relative novice Leon Spinks beat the greatest heavyweight that ever lived. British fighters have also got in the act, Lloyd Honeyghan went to America to stun Don Curry, and Sugar Ray Robinson was beaten by Randy Turpin.
So there does appear to be some hope for Anthony Crolla and Amir Khan in their quest to overcome the seemingly mission impossible in the coming weeks.
But look a little bit below the surface and there were reasons why the likes of Tyson, Ali, Curry and Robinson got beat.
The rapid Tyson decline was already setting in, and an inspired and grief motivated Douglas obviously played his part. Ali was 36 and out of shape when he faced the 10-1 outsider and 7 fight novice in 1978. Curry was apparently dead at the weight when Honeyghan destroyed him in 1986 in an almost criminally small arena, Honeyghan deserved a much larger stage that night.
At odds of 5-1 Honeyghan gambled on himself to beat the unbeaten Curry, the heir apparent to Sugar Ray Leonard. With talk of a possible fight with Marvin Hagler, Curry himself gambled on another fight at welterweight and lost big time and his career never really recovered from the battering Honeyghan gave him.
Robinson had just fought 6 fights in 7 weeks in 5 different countries on his European tour. The great Sugar Ray had only suffered defeat once in 133 fights, a quite incredible record, but the outside and in-ring life meant Turpin would not be facing a prime Robinson.
But sadly for Crolla and Khan, they don’t appear to have that same luxury. There are no real signs that either Vasyl Lomachenko or Terrence Crawford are on the slide, you could even argue, and quite strongly, that it is Crolla and Khan who have seen better days and are not the fighters they once were, although even prime versions would probably not be enough.
I have seen odds on Crolla at 20-1 for his fight with Lomachenko and around 8-1 for Khan to beat the hugely impressive Crawford. The odds on both could realistically be much longer and nobody could seriously argue if they were.
Lomachenko and Crawford are way up on most experts pound for pound lists and defeat for either seem unthinkable. Crolla and Khan are viewed as minor obstacles for much bigger things down the road for their illustrious opponents, pugilistic lambs to the slaughter. There is a reason both are in this position, especially in Khan’s case.
With so many world titles on offer, there are much easier routes for Crolla and Khan to take, and both deserve credit for daring to climb the very highest peaks. But unfortunately the reward doesn’t always come with the ambition, and that is how I see both fights ending, brave but painfully denied.