By: Kirk Jackson
The top pound-for-pound fighter of the sport is facing a predicament. Current WBO welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford (36-0, 27 KO’s) is itching for a fight, but is experiencing difficulty securing a legit opponent.
Although Crawford is highly regarded by his fighting peers, analysts and other observers of the sport, his standing has not prevented an onslaught of recent criticisms from these very same outlets, in spite of his accomplishments.
Major world titles:
The Ring magazine titles:
World Champions Defeated (8): Ricky Burns, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Ray Beltran, Viktor Postol, Jeff Horn, Julius Indongo and Amir Khan.
Crawford, along with virtually every other fighter is plagued with problems presented from this pandemic.
But what also ails the Nebraska native, is his lack of high quality opposition as of late. In addition to this pandemic, in which limits the options for Crawford, the hand from Father Time is creeping in, imminently set to attack what’s left of the 32-year-old Crawford’s prime years.
How much longer can Crawford hold on to any bits of his prime and as a top performer? This is a concern expressed by current Top Rank/ESPN commentator and unofficial Top Rank Promoter, Timothy Bradley.
“‘Bud’ Crawford is not a young whippersnapper anymore,” Bradley said. “He’s in his 30s. He’s not young. Activity is important for him. But I know Bud Crawford personally. I know he works extremely hard, he’s constantly staying in shape. So, I think he’ll be okay.”
“One thing that we know is that you can’t buy back time,” Bradley continued. “You can’t buy back time. These are your prime years. Boxing is short. It’s a short lived sport, believe it or not. You have a short window to make your money and get out of the game before the game damages you.”
With this pandemic and worldwide shut down in effect, another questions begs as to how will this affect Crawford, as far as securing that elusive, career defining bout?
Legendary Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, has a list of opponents he’s considering for Crawford’s next fight set to take place in November. Fans and boxing pundits speculate those potential opponents may be Shawn Porter, Manny Pacquiao, Kell Brook, Keith Thurman or Yordenis Ugas.
However, the legacy defining fight fans are clamoring for, is a bout featuring current unified IBF and WBC welterweight champion, “The Truth” Errol Spence Jr. (26-0, 21 KO’s).
The highly anticipated collision course can potentially go down as one of the most memorable fights in welterweight history. This match-up may stake its stand in time like Thomas Hearns vs. Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya vs. Felix Trinidad, Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao and other historic match-ups.
That’s if Spence fully recovered from injuries suffered from his horrific car accident last year and he and “Bud” can overcome other obstacles prior to their proposed, eventual clash.
Regarding Spence’s return and recovery, for obvious reasons Crawford will be a highly interested observer as he returns later this year.
“Errol has stated that he’s fine; he’s training, and nothing is really wrong with him,” Crawford told ESPN. “He’s preparing himself for Danny Garcia. So after this fight, we’re all going to get a glimpse of how he’s going to react coming off of that magnitude. And being that he’s taking on a tough opponent in Danny Garcia because Danny is by far no walk in the park for anybody. So we’re all going to get our answers from fight night with him, and Danny share the ring together.”
But what is the best option for Crawford in the immediate future? Pacquiao is at the top of everyone’s wish list, but that is a fight having eluded Crawford the past five years. And with the pandemic having a negative impact worldwide on the economy, securing these highly desirable match-ups are increasingly difficult.
If the plan is for Crawford to face Spence next year, the go-to move, may be pitting the WBO welterweight champion against common opponents to help stir up interest, further hype the fight while enhancing viewership and appeal to the observing audience.
It’s a plan committed in years past, when fighters were in the process of mutual courtship. For years, Floyd Mayweather verbally jabbed at Manny Pacquiao for fighting his leftovers; Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Shane Mosley. In turn, Mayweather fought some of Pacquiao’s dance partners; Juan Manuel Marquez and Miguel Cotto.
In the past, many other rivals shared dance partners en route to their eventual showdown. This added another layer of intrigue, as fans and analysts alike dissected and compared performances against common foes and it served as build-up for the fight.
“Bud” can follow that same blueprint, by facing Kell Brook, Mikey Garcia or even Shawn Porter. Spence had fight of the year caliber fights with Brook and Porter respectively.
“That’s a good fight,” Crawford told ESPN regarding a fight with Porter. “If that’s a fight that Porter wants to pursue, we can talk about it, and so be it. I don’t duck no fighter. I never turned down no fighter, so I won’t stop now. My whole thing was I’m looking for the titles, and I’m trying to become undisputed. Me and Shawn are good friends.”
What ultimately determines what will occur is the decision from Arum.
“The first choice, obviously, is for Crawford to fight Manny Pacquiao but that depends on money from a site abroad,” Arum said in an interview with Boxing Scene.
“I talked to Manny about the fight but a lot of these places overseas are reluctant now to do anything this year because of the pandemic. Next year? Different story. But this year it’s a big problem and I have no control over it, so it seems unlikely it would be Pacquiao this year and I want to get Crawford a fight this year.”
Without a crowd in attendance, or a notable adversary willing to participate under less than ideal circumstances, Crawford may be stuck in limbo waiting for the Spence fight – if that even materializes.
“My contract states I’m not taking any pay cuts. If we have to fight for the minimum, so be it,” Crawford told ESPN. “With the fans unable to come see the fight, I don’t know how that’ll fare against any top welterweight in the division. When you look at the whole landscape of the whole thing, it’s going to come down to money. And if you can’t provide the proper money for each fighter, then how is that going to make the fight happen?
“But as far as a pay cut, it depends on who we’re fighting. Manny Pacquiao is a fight that we’re still currently looking forward to getting. Like I said, the pandemic has messed up a lot of things as far as money.”
As Crawford alluded to, the pandemic has tampered with sports and life as we know it. But progressing forward, the plan is to overcome these hurdles and eventually things will get back on track.