Terence Crawford: Is He An All-time Great?
By Gamma Thohir
I’m sure that 32-year-old Terence “Bud” Crawford needs no further introduction. But just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past half a decade,
Crawford is the former lightweight champion, former undisputed light-welterweight champion, and current WBO welterweight champion.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, Bud is also 36-0-0 in his campaign thus far, with 27 KOs to go with it. Behind all the achievements and records, is Terence Crawford all that he’s made up to be?
When we talk about the all-time greats one commonality that arises in the conversations is their resume. The reason why fighters like Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao, and Oscar De La Hoya are considered to be as great as they are is because of the list of fighters they’ve beaten.
Take Pacquiao for instance, his resume boasts wins over other all-time greats like Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley, Ricky Hatton, and more. Or Mayweather, love him or hate him, who set an amazing record by beating 16 world champions consecutively.
If we dissect Crawford’s career does it stand up to the careers of the aforementioned names? Does it even compare to those of his peers? No.
In his 36 fights, Crawford’s most noteworthy win was that against Amir Khan. The next biggest name on his resume is Viktor Postol. Aside from those two fighters, Crawford has not faced any big name opponents.
This has been the biggest knock on his status as a P4P great, especially when you consider his current division rival Errol Spence Jr. who has defeated the likes of Shawn Porter, Mikey Garcia, and Kell Brook.
Crawford has a great opportunity to improve his resume competing in the stacked 147-pound division with challengers and champions who bring the much-needed name-value his resume desperately needs.
Following along the criteria to be considered a P4P great, the next item on the checklist is title defenses. What better way is there to assert yourself as one of the best than beating the best in the division?
Joe Louis’ record of 25 consecutive successful title defenses still stands today, and will likely remain unbroken for a long time.
Gennady Golovkin defended his WBA middleweight title 20 times before losing it in 2018, via a majority decision loss to Canelo Alvarez.
Joe Calzaghe defended his WBO super-middleweight title 21 times before moving up to light-heavyweight to end his career.
What about Crawford? When Crawford became the WBO lightweight champion he defended his title twice before moving up to light-welterweight. There he won the WBO belt and defended it 6 times, while also becoming the undisputed champion in the process.
Crawford then moves up once again and gets a belt in his third division by becoming the WBO welterweight champion. At the time of writing this, Crawford has defended his welterweight title 3 times. With 11 defenses in 3 divisions, Crawford definitely ticks the box for defenses.
The last indicator of P4P greatness in my books is the ability to draw viewership.
Although it isn’t necessarily a gauge of how good a fighter is, it’s a huge part of boxing today. It’s difficult to near impossible to name a P4P great fighter who isn’t a huge PPV draw since the TV era of boxing.
Look at boxing’s biggest names today, Canelo Alvarez, Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, they all have one thing in common, they’re able to sell fights. Whether it be through their larger than life personas or support from a loyal fanbase, these fighters get views.
In his last PPV bout “Canelo vs. GGG 2” he did 1.1 million buys in the US. Anthony Joshua’s biggest draw came from his fight against Klitschko where he did 1.63 million buys in the UK.
This is where Crawford falls short, his last PPV bout was against Amir Khan and it only did 150,000 buys in the US. The one before that was against Viktor Postol which did even worse with 50,000 buys in the US. I think what both his fans and critics want to see is a true test of his abilities against a fighter of the same caliber. Crawford needs bigger fights to truly cement his P4P great status and time is working against him.
With all that being said, do I think that Crawford is a generational talent? Yes.
Despite his shortcomings, Crawford is still one of only two active former undisputed champs, a 3-division champ, the best switch hitter in the last 10 years, and in his prime. He has all the physical tools and ring IQ to become one of the greatest to do it.
Do I think that, with his current trajectory, he will end up as an all-time great? Yes, but if he truly wants to leave a lasting legacy Crawford needs to have a better resume and draw more viewership, something he can easily accomplish if he took more risks.
With most of the top contenders and champions booked for fights in 2020, the only remaining sensible opponents left for Crawford are Manny Pacquiao, Kell Brook, Keith Thurman, or Mikey Garcia.
Taking on any of these guys would solve all of Crawford’s problems. So is Crawford a P4P great or is he a phony? For now, only time will tell how his career will unfold.