Crawford vs Khan: A Task Too Big For Khan?
By Matthew Dean
Amir Khan (33-4-0. 20KOs) is feeling confident, he firmly believes he has the measure of Terence Bud Crawford (33-0-0. 25KOs).
Looking at this fight scheduled for 20th April I am going to be blunt. Not that it counts for much and I could misjudge the whole outcome but I am pretty sure I won’t and Khan will have an uphill battle and find himself hopelessly outclassed when the bell rings. I don’t want to sound like a total detractor of Khan but I am trying to be realistic, the odds tell the reality of the task ahead.
The most obvious facts to me.
Crawford is undefeated. Khan has lost 4 times.
Khan can be stopped this we know. Bud to my knowledge has never been knocked down.
Amir’s performances range from very good to mediocre. Crawford is sublime to behold at times but never awful.
As a young amateur star and flying the flag for Britain in the Olympics all those watching the fights were poised on the edge of their seats. Every point scored and each round progressed his maturity and ability shone through. His defeat against Mario Kindelan the Cuban great in the final ( earning him a silver medal) was a heartfelt moment in which we participated in his semi-joy & disappointment.
His brilliant revenge exacted on his Olympic conqueror as his last fight in the amateur ranks served as a majestic triumph to transition into the pro game.
Moving swiftly on the back of his Olympic success, win followed win and the crowd went with Amir. But the fast rising star was to fall badly against Breidis Prescott. A KO in round 1 barely a moment into the fight and Britain watched aghast as the dream exploded. All of a sudden the 18 previous W’s meant little. This was a devastating result and the outcome exposed the biggest flaw in Khan’s arsenal. Blessed with incredible hand speed, an intelligent boxing mind and exuding confidence, his weakness – a vulnerable chin.
This particular weakness is never the end of a career but it does mean that each fight is potentially an early night back in the dressing room. Khan bounced back racking up another 8 wins, besting the likes of Marco Antonio Barrera, Paulie Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana and Zab Judah. Then he met Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia and fell again twice (split decision and TKO respectively). Determined still he rose to defeat Luis Collazo, Devon Alexander and Chris Algieri then the crushing KO loss to Saul Alvarez and a two year hiatus from the sport.
In 2019 Khan returned and has two wins to his name but the opposition have been merely pedestrian traffic in comparison to some of the names he has faced or is yet to face. Chasing fights against Mayweather Jr and Pacquiao have proven fruitless pursuits. Yet here he is again at the cusp of greatness if only he can pull off a win against a three weight champion.
Stepping into the ring opposite him is a man who likes to hurt people. He almost seems to enjoy it. Not blessed with the same hand speed as a prime Khan, nonetheless he has a brilliant boxing brain. Added to that excellent defences and movement, a decent enough chin unafraid to take a hit to land some of his own, a former WBO & WBC lightweight champion, unified super lightweight champion and now WBO welterweight champion, Crawford is quite a handful for any fighter.
Khan is certain that the calibre of opposition he has faced is superior. But ultimately when that bell rings it isn’t who you beat in the past but what you can do in the current which will determine the outcome. Khan has fought twice since May 2016 so there are going to be elements of ring rust in technique. Crawford has fought 6 times by comparison.
We should remember that Khan was the Commonwealth lightweight champion, he has held the WBA & IBF super lightweight belts & WBC Silver welterweight & WBA international welterweight belts.
I appreciate not everyone rates the validity of some of these alphabet titles but they nonetheless exist. He has had good performances and bad and on the whole Khan has been a good ambassador for British boxing. Never afraid of a challenge or to step up no matter how great the risk. One of his greatest accolades.
There will also come a time for Crawford I suspect when the step up is too far but this we are yet to see. So this fight is the perfect mechanism to draw the buys if Crawford can get to IBF champion Errol Spence Jr.
Spence wants to fight Bud for the same reasons, legacies, money, recognition. So by fighting Khan a name well-known both sides of the Atlantic, Crawford has the chance to introduce himself to a wider audience. He also has another opportunity to settle in at the weight before mixing with the IBF title holder.
The line about a good big man will beat a good smaller man is true and Spence will certainly be the bigger man. As he proved in beating Mikey Garcia he isn’t just about power hitting, he really can box so Crawford is going to have a fight in his hands.
So come April 20th what is going to happen. I can’t say for certain as this is an uncertain world. Khan thinks he will come off best. Crawford has other ideas. There is a rematch clause in place but it is unlikely to be needed.
Undoubtedly Khan will be brave and put on a fine show for a few rounds but Crawford simply being who and what he is in the ring, when he senses blood, will ultimately prove to be just too good.