Terence Crawford: The Need For A Big Fight
By Sina Latif
The welterweight division has produced some golden era’s in boxing history. The 1980’s was really special, with legends such as Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Durán. The 2000’s was another great period, with the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr, Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley.
This current crop competing at 147 is also a golden era. It is increasingly competitive, consisting of fighters who could hold their own in previous generations.
Errol Spence Jr, Terence Crawford, Manny Pacquiao (STILL), Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia are the best of this current welterweight era.
However, there is a problem for Crawford. Whilst all the other aforementioned fighters are aligned with Premier Boxing Champions and fighting each other, Crawford’s signed to Top Rank as an outsider. Boxing politics is preventing Crawford from securing the big fights which could take the Omaha native over the edge from being considered a truly great fighter, to securing a permanent recognition of greatness.
Crawford has no regard for boxing politics. He just wants to fight the best. When Chris Mannix recently referred to PBC fighters as ‘across the street’ in an interview for DAZN, Crawford’s instant reaction was as follows:
“There’s no such thing as across the street. Back in the days you never heard of fighters say across the street. What street? This is boxing. Everybody fight everybody.”
Crawford is clearly a throwback fighter sadly without a time machine at his disposal. He has the mindset of the past greats, living in times in which boxing fans suffer, being denied the opportunity to witness fights that they want to see at the times when they should be seen.
It takes great opponents to cement greatness. Muhammad Ali did it by beating Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier and George Foreman. Leonard did it by beating Marvin Hagler, Hearns and Duran. That is the opportunity that a bout against Spence would provide Crawford with.
The soft-spoken Spence is a beast once he enters the ring. The Texas native has all the tools to dominate the division for a long while. The predicament is that both Crawford and Spence need each other in order to establish who the best of this era is.
If Al Haymon and Bob Arum cannot put their differences aside to make Crawford vs Spence, the all-too familiar dictum of “It is bad for boxing” will be continued. The truth of it couldn’t be denied either.
Pacquiao’s achievements mean that the Filipino legend stands in a league of his own in the current welterweight landscape. He is the only eight-division world champion in boxing history. His recent victory over Thurman to inflict a first career defeat on 30-year-old Thurman’s career to become the oldest welterweight champion in history at 40, showed that there are no signs of the legend slowing down.
This means that a fight for Bud against Pacquiao, both commercially and in the ring, would be a blockbuster mega-fight. A meeting between one of boxing’s current pound-for-pound best, and one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of all time.
Pacquiao’s opportunity to be reunited with Arum, his former promoter, and beat the man who replaced the Filipino as Arum’s main guy. Crawford’s opportunity to finally become the pay-per-view star which his talent merits.
Due to the tenacity of both fighters, it would be an amazing fight.
However, due to the Top Rank – PBC logistics, and the possibility that at the age of 40, Manny may be reluctant to enter the ring and have such a tough fight against the youthful and in-prime Crawford, means that this fight would also be highly unlikely.
Porter has an upcoming unification fight against Spence on September 28 at Staples Center, LA. Subsequently, again, Crawford vs Porter would be a great fight, but Al Haymon and Arum’s ‘beef’ would prevent it from happening.
Thurman and Garcia, same situation.
In the press conference prior to Crawford v Amir Khan, Arum said:
“When I talk about Terence, what I say is he is certainly the best welterweight that I’ve seen since Sugar Ray Leonard.”
This was not the first time Arum had compared Crawford to Leonard. Arum had previously said that Crawford is ‘equal if not better than Ray was’.
If there is to be any sort of substance behind these claims by Arum, Crawford needs to be matched up against the elite PBC fighters, and sooner rather than later.
Crawford is 31 years of age, and time waits for no man. When Leonard was 31, he had beaten Hagler, Hearns, Duran and Wilfred Benitez.
Crawford is still young, but he cannot be the heir to the throne of Leonard fighting the likes of Jeff Horn, José Benavidez Jr and Khan.
One thing is for certain, Crawford has the potential to be a truly great fighter. He is the most intelligent and versatile fighter in boxing today. He has a gift for being able to adjust to every fighter he faces after identifying their strengths and weaknesses.
Crawford has a natural ability to switch from orthodox to southpaw, or vice versa, so seamlessly that it is is barely noticeable. He carries power in both of his hands, and is a phenomenal counterpuncher with a solid defence.
Crawford may not just be the best welterweight in this golden 147 era, he may be the best fighter in the world, period. However, he needs to be given the opportunity to truly prove it.
Pacquiao is an absolute guaranteed future hall of famer. Spence and Porter are set to face off in the sort of showdown which builds towards such status.
Thurman and Garcia are still young and can easily be involved in big fights whilst ‘on the right side of the street’.
This era can easily be remembered as one of the very best, with many of the top fighters facing off against one another to prove their talent. It’s a shame that although Crawford may be the cream of the crop, he is not being given the opportunities to prove it.
Crawford needs a big fight soon!