Terence Crawford’s Need For A Big Fight

Terence Crawford’s Need For A Big Fight

By Sina Latif

This current crop competing at 147 lbs can be special. It is increasingly competitive, consisting of fighters who could hold their own in previous generations.

Terence Crawford, Errol Spence Jr, Manny Pacquiao (STILL), Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia are the elite of this current welterweight era, with the likes of Yordenis Ugas, prospects Vergil Ortiz Jr. and Jaron Ennis waiting on the wings for their break-through moment.

However, there is a problem for Crawford. Whilst all of the other aforementioned elite 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 from being considered a great fighter and one of the current pound-for-pound best, to securing a permanent recognition of greatness.

It takes great opponents to cement greatness. History dictates that greatness is achieved not only through the ability of the fighter, but the ability of the opponents. Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard were afforded the opportunity for greatness due to the opponents they fought. Ali cemented his legend by defeating Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier and George Foreman. Leonard did it by beating Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran.

Providing that Spence can return to 100% following his horrific car crash last year, that is the opportunity that a bout against Spence would provide Crawford with. A fight between the pair would represent a mega-fight between two American champions to resemble Leonard vs Hearns in 1981.

However, currently there is an uncertainty that surrounds Spence. It is unclear how well Spence can recover and until he returns to the ring in an expected fight against Danny Garcia, we just cannot truly gauge how much Spence has left in the tank.

With the recent Covid-19 pandemic meaning that many fighters may have to take a pay cut to fight in empty arena’s, Crawford has declared an unwillingness to do so, and has in fact not ruled out the possibility of not entering the ring at all during 2020.

Crawford will be 33 in September. For Crawford, this pandemic struck at the worst possible time. Having beaten an over-the-hill Amir Khan and a largely unheralded Egidijus Kavaliauskas in 2019, this meant that Crawford had to have a better 2020, facing a truly worthy opponent, and then disaster struck.

With the existing difficulty to get Crawford in the ring with the elites of the welterweight division, the delay due to the pandemic is a further blow to Crawford’s career.

Crawford’s monumental risk to Al Haymon’s PBC just does not match the reward. Besides Spence, which is 50/50 against a fully fit and healthy Spence, Crawford is the favourite against all the other elite PBC welterweights. Crawford is not exactly an outrageous bragger who makes headlines and sells large numbers of tickets. He is not much of an attraction outside of his native Omaha, Nebraska.

In his last fight last summer, Pacquiao inflicted a first career defeat on then-30 year old and previously undefeated Thurman to become the oldest welterweight champion in history at 40, showing that there are no signs of the legend slowing down.

Of course, Father Time can catch up with any fighter overnight and cannot be defeated.

This would be Crawford’s opportunity to finally become a pay-per-view star and receive the recognition his talent merits in a changing of the guard fight.

However, due to the Top Rank – PBC logistics, on top of Manny’s possible reluctance to face a youthful and in-prime Crawford with such a vast skill-set, this fight would also be highly unlikely any time soon, or ever. Considering the impact of coronavirus on all aspects of the industry, finding a suitable venue and bringing the two fighters together is more difficult than ever following Arum’s recent teasing of the potential fight.

Porter is a two-time champion at 147 lbs, a legitimate contender with proven credentials. Porter is not an easy night for anyone and provides the type of fight which can test any man’s true championship heart and grit. He lost a close decision to Spence last September in a competitive unification bout.

Porter would represent a step-up in competition, but again, following talks via media, no real steam has been built up for the pair to face off.

Thurman, Garcia and Ugas, same situation.

Crawford has the potential to be forever remembered as a truly great fighter. He is a very intelligent and versatile boxer. He has a gift for being able to make seemingly endless adjustments during a fight and tailors his game-plan to his opponent to ensure victory.

Crawford has a natural ability to switch from orthodox to southpaw, or vice versa, so seamlessly that it is barely noticeable.

‘Bud’ is a calm, calculated fighter with a mean streak. Once he has a fighter hurt, they are gone. He has incredible boxing IQ whilst being the best finisher in boxing today. This makes Crawford a formidable foe for anybody.

Crawford is special, we know this, but we won’t know how truly great he can be without the proper dance partner.

So, for now, we will have to rely on the eye test with Crawford, much like we did with Deontay Wilder. Power-punching Wilder looked like a world-beater who would knock out any man he faced until he had 40 pro fights and was glaringly exposed for his lack of fundamentals by Tyson Fury twice, getting stopped in the second fight.

Crawford’s career has not been a disappointment by any stretch of the imagination. Bud is a three-weight division champion, the former undisputed super-lightweight champion and the current WBO welterweight champion.

He has reached the pinnacle of the sport, being named No.1 on many pound-for-pound lists over the years. But, he lacks a defining victory. The likes of Viktor Postol, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Felix Diaz and Amir Khan just do not qualify as the sort of victories that will undoubtedly cement Crawford as an all-time great. He does not have a victory which proves his talent.

The Omaha native’s era as a fighter has afforded him with the opportunity to cement all-time great status with the other active talent out there. Whether circumstances will allow the fights to happen at the right time, or at all, remains to be seen.

Crawford needs a big fight and soon!

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