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:
- WBO lightweight champion (135 lbs.)
- WBA (Super) light welterweight champion (140 lbs.)
- WBC light welterweight champion (140 lbs.)
- IBF light welterweight champion (140 lbs.)
- WBO light welterweight champion (140 lbs.)
- WBO welterweight champion (147 lbs.)
The Ring magazine titles:
- The Ring lightweight champion (135 lbs.)
- The Ring light welterweight champion (140 lbs.)
- Undisputed light welterweight champion (IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO)
- Fighter of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 2014
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.
By: Sean Crose
If COVID-19 has done anything, it’s given people plenty of time to think. Those in the boxing business are no exception. It wasn’t all that long ago, for instance, that a fight between Manny Pacquiao and Terence Crawford seemed to be an impossibility. Pacquiao was too old. What’s more, he fought under the PBC banner while Crawford fought under Pacquiao’s old banner at Top Rank. How quickly things can change. In a recent interview with iFL, Top Rank honcho Bob Arum claimed that a welterweight title unifier between the two big name opponents is a “real possibility.” Such teases are often made in boxing, but during a time when the entire world appears to be on lock down, even the whiff of good news is apt to suffice.
Pacquiao, who is now 41 years old, remains one of the most popular fighters in the sport. He was long considered past his prime when he stunned a lot of people by besting the younger Keith Thurman last summer by split decision, a win which gave the Filipino icon the WBA welterweight crown. Crawford, on the other hand, is considered one of the best – if not the single best – fighter on the planet. The problem for Crawford is that he has no major opponents to fight at the moment. Most of the high level competition at welterweight, like Pacquiao, Errol Spence Jr, and others, are PBC fighters. In a world of intense boxing politics, promotional entities act as a Berlin wall.
Should Arum, Crawford’s promoter, and Al Haymon, Pacquiao’s adviser, sit down and make a deal, however, then WBO champion Crawford could face WBA champ Pacquiao for both men’s titles. Such a match would thrill the fan base, probably do big pay per view numbers, and add a big shot of excitement into the sport. For now, though, the world will have to wait. Arum also told iFL that the business of boxing will have to change in a post COVID-19 world. With less money around, Arum argued, salaries and pay per view costs will have to be adjusted.
Fans might take comfort in the fact that Arum and Haymon came together to make Wilder-Fury 2, a huge pay per view event which saw Fury emerge victorious against his arch rival. What’s more, a third battle between both supersized heavyweights is said to be on the way. “We worked seamlessly with his staff,” Arum said of Haymon. “They were good, smart guys and women, and they worked well with us. They were a real team.”
If such cooperation could work at heavyweight, perhaps it can work at welterweight, as well.
By: Hans Themistode
WBO Welterweight title holder Terence Crawford has been a professional boxer for 12 years now. He’s managed to win world titles in three different weight classes and is universally considered one of, if not the very best in the world pound-for-pound.
Yet, with everything that Crawford has achieved in the ring, his boxing resume is amongst the weakest, regardless of weight class.
The competition of Crawford is always in question but don’t pin any of the blame on him. Simply put, some of the very best fighters in the world aren’t exactly in a rush to step foot inside the ring with him. Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs) has spent the vast majority of his career calling to face the best but no has answered the call.
Crawford has repeatedly claimed that his lack of a big name opponent hasn’t been frustrating. If no one of note decides to face him, then he will simply continue to dominate whomever they place in front of him.
Frustration hasn’t hit Crawford just yet, but it does seem that it has affected his promoter Bob Arum. Although he has reached out to just about everyone about matching his star fighter with a big name opponent, it seems as though Arum has decided to go in another direction.
Paying attention to every sport is extremely difficult. Yet, even the most dedicated fans of boxing, football or even tennis who don’t pay attention to the world of mixed martial arts (MMA) knows one name. Conor McGregor.
On January 18th, the MMA superstar made quick work of Donald Cerrone in their contest at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. McGregor of course, loss his first and only boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in August of 2017. McGregor’s now looking for redemption against Mayweather. If he can’t secure that contest, then he is reportedly very much interested in a matchup against eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao.
Bob Arum on the other hand, has another idea in mind. How about McGregor turn his attention to Crawford. In the case of both Mayweather and Pacquiao, McGregor would be forced to face them in the boxing ring.
In a bout with Crawford however, Arum wants to see his star face McGregor in the boxing ring and in the octagon.
“You’ve got an elite boxer in Terence Crawford fighting an elite MMA guy in Conor McGregor under MMA rules,” said Arum. “You don’t think that would be interesting and something the public would want to see? I think it’s very realistic. Whenever they are ready, we are ready,” Arum said, referring to UFC president Dana White and McGregor. “We’d do the MMA fight first if that’s what they want.”
Dangerous? Also yes.
Crazy? Hell yes.
Crawford is a great fighter. Maybe even the best in the world but MMA is a completely different animal. The story is always the same when it comes down to these crossover matchups. If it takes place in the boxing ring then the boxer will win. If it’s done inside of the octagon, then the MMA fighter will take home the victory.
That might be the right away to think about those scenarios normally, but Crawford is anything but normal.
“I’m a fighter first,” Crawford said. “As a fighter, I would entertain it. I just have to have the proper time to prepare myself. It would be a little more than boxing training. I haven’t been in that [wrestling] environment in a long time, but most definitely I feel I can compete with anyone given the proper time to train on the MMA side, being that I have a wrestling background. McGregor would have worry about my stand-up game as well. It would be interesting. He’s got good kicks and he’s strong. I’d have to prepare myself for those things, but I feel I would be all right. A lot of people may say if Terence goes into the Octagon, he will get crushed, but they don’t know me.”
A fight with McGregor would gift Crawford with more money than he can count but that isn’t on the mind of Crawford. The sort of attention that a fight with McGregor could bring the Welterweight champ is what he desires. If no one else wants to fight him then it’s time to get creative.
“I can’t get none of these top welterweights in the ring to fight me, so whatever is clever,” said Crawford. “I’m with it all.”
If this mega event actually does take place, the obvious outcome should be that Crawford wins in the boxing match and McGregor would take home the victory in the MMA matchup. But, according to Arum, McGregor certainly has no shot in the ring but you shouldn’t sleep on Crawford in the octagon.
“Fighting Crawford would be great for McGregor because he has no chance in a boxing match, except to pick up a check,” Arum said. “In an MMA match, he would be the favorite, but Crawford would have a chance because he’s one tough dude and because he has a wrestling background. I think that Crawford is the one boxer that can compete with an elite MMA guy under MMA rules. We’d do two fights so we can level the playing field by fighting in both disciplines. Mayweather and Pacquiao would never fight under MMA rules. Crawford would.”
By: Sean Crose
Undefeated WBO welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford has made it more than clear he wants a piece of WBA, IBF and WBC welterweight champion Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. “New year. New day. New goals.” Crawford tweeted on January 3’d. “New belts? #2020 #quitduckinme.” It was obvious who the message was for. What’s more, the words were accompanied by an image of the Nebraska native standing next to a heavy bag. The 36-0 fighter continued calling out Spence on Sunday. “I’m tell all y’all now,” he tweeted, “and I mean what I say when that day come when I knock him all I want all y’all to keep that same energy because he gone cry in the car he wasn’t built for this shit I got over here just watch me show the world.”
Yet Crawford wasn’t done.
“And stop using the fucking promoters, managers and advisors for that weak ass excuse,” he continued. “Y’all doing they work for us y’all dumb mf if you really want a fight you tell them i don’t give two fucks that’s who I want to fight. let yo nuts drop you say you yo own boss @ErrolSpenceJr.” Spence, 26-0, made it a point to reply. After claiming that he only hears Crawford gripe on social media, the native of of DeSoto, Texas tweeted: “Fight not going get made on here.” Crawford responded: “You right ima call you right now pick yo phone up.” A short time later, Crawford tweeted that “@ErrolSpenceJr is a cool dude on some real shit we both agree the fight will happen.”
Both Spence and Crawford are ranked among the top fighters in the sport. Yet there’s no real sign that two men are going to fight anytime soon, something that rankles followers of the sweet science. What’s more, no one is particularly buying the excuse that promotional and network loyalties are keeping the men from fighting. The fact that heavyweights Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, represented by the same interests as Spence and Crawford respectively, will be fighting for the second time this February proves that high end hybrid bouts can be made.
The welterweight division has been held in extremely high regard since the days of Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, and Roberto Duran. In that bygone era, however, top fighters would face off in a timely manner. Leonard, for instance, battled Duran twice in 1980, then met Hearns in 1981. No one could imagine should a thing happening today. Which, of course, is something that’s worth noting. Both Crawford and Spence are very good fighters. It’s also ridiculous to argue that one is afraid of the other. Unfortunately, red tape is keeping the world from knowing who the best man of the two truly is. Here’s hoping Crawford is right, and that – sooner rather than later – “the fight will happen” after Spence fully recovers from a horrendous October car crash and is ready to face top level opposition again.
By: Sean Crose
Madison Square Garden hosted an ESPN and Top Rank Promotions’ card Saturday night ; which featured undefeated WBO welterweight champ Terence Crawford. Omaha’s Crawford, 35-0, putting his belt on the line against California’s (by way of Lithuania) Egidijus Kavaliauskas, 21-0-1, in the main event of the evening.
In the first bout of the night, Ireland’s Michael Conlan put his 12-0 record to the test against the man who bested him at the 2016 Olympic Games, Russia’s 3-0 Valdimir Nitikin. Conlan was able to control the range in the first. Nitikin managed to have his moments in the second, when he was able to close the distance. The third saw Nitikin go down, though the referee ruled it a slip. The Russian went on to have his moments throughout the round, though it was Conlan who looked to land the cleaner shots. By the fourth, there was a clear pattern in play – Conlan would control the range, while Nitikin would lunge forward at times swinging wildly.
Conlan was the fighter in control. With that in mind, Nitikin came on strong in the fifth. The sixth round was close and perhaps hard to call for the judges. Nitikin was landing, but was he landing enough? The seventh ended in explosive fashion, with both men trading leather. Things were explosive again in the eighth, with each man firing away. The ninth was a high octane affair, though Conlan may have edged it. Nitikin continued to give it his all in the tenth, though Conlan looked to be the slightly sharper fighter overall. In the end, Conlan walked away with a UD win.
Next up, IBF Lightweight champ Richard Comey, (29-2), took on colorful rising star Teofimo Lopez (14-0)in a scheduled 12 rounder. The opening round was a very close, sharpshooting affair, which Brooklyn’s Lopez may have edged. Comey was sent down in thunderous fashion in the second, so thunderous that he actually stumbled across the canvas. The brave product of Ghana got to his feet, but Lopez, who was smelling blood, went in for the kill. The referee wisely stopped the fight a few seconds later. A unification bout with Vasyl Lomachenko was talked about immediately afterwards – and with good reason.
It was time for the main event. The first round was a tight affair, with Crawford starting out in the southpaw stance. By staying disciplined, Kavaliauskas was able to land hard on Crawford in the second. The third was quite exciting. Both man landed well. Crawford hit the mat at one point, though it was ruled a slip. Each man threw – and landed – hard in the fourth. Crawford also used a right jab to very good effect early on. While Crawford seemed to get the better of his man in the fifth, Kavaliauskas was nothing if not a live dog. It had become a close fight, the kind of fight no one had expected. Still, Crawford appeared to take control in the sixth.
The seventh saw Kavaliauskas go down thanks to Crawford’s crushing punches. The man got up, however, and was able to survive to the bell. Crawford came on strong again at the end of the eighth. Yet Kavaliauskas was able to survive another round. It didn’t matter. Crawford dropped the challenger hard in the early part of the ninth, then, after Kavaliauskas gamely got to his feet, dropped him once more. The referrer stepped in and stopped the bout.
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the legendary Madison Square Garden Arena in New York, New York will be the host site for Top Rank Promotions latest card to be televised live on ESPN.
Terence Crawford will defend his WBO Welterweight Championship against Egidijus Kavaliauskas in the main event of the night. The co-main event will be a IBF Lightweight Championship match between Richard Commey and Teofimo Lopez Jr.
The undercard is also stacked with talent. Michael Conlan will face Vladimir Nikitin in a featherweight bout that will be a rematch of their 2016 Olympic bout. Other fighters to keep an eye on include Josue Vargas, Julian Rodriguez, Mickey Bey, and George Kambosos Jr.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the night.
<strong> Richard Commey (29-2) vs. Teofimo Lopez Jr. (14-0); IBF Lightweight Title </strong>
Teofimo Lopez is one of Top Rank Promotions’ young guns with an incredibly high ceiling. He’s only twenty two years old and has under fifteen fights as a profressional, but he’s already fighting for a world title.
Lopez is ten years younger than Commey and will be giving up about two and half inches in reach. Lopez has been the more active fighter of the two, as he fought three times in 2019 and four times in 2018. Commey only fought twice in 2018 and once in 2017.
Lopez does appear to have a large edge in amateur experience. He competed in the 2016 Olympics for Honduras and was a US National Golden Gloves Gold Medalist. Commey has no major international accomplishments as an amateur.
Commey has two losses on his record, but they were both by close split decision to Denish Shafikov and Robert Easter Jr. He has defeated the likes of Raymundo Beltran, Isa Chaniev, Alejandro Luna, and Hedi Elimani.
Lopez has yet to taste defeat as a professional. He has defeated the likes of Masayoshi Nakatani, Edis Tatli, Diego Magdaleno, Mason Menard, William Silva, and Vitor Jones.
It will be interesting to see how Lopez handles the reach advantage of tested and rugged veteran. Commey is experienced and will be able to take advantage of any mistakes that Lopez may make. But Lopez is the good fighter with a strong punch.
This writer sees Lopez dominating in the middle to late rounds to win a decision victory.
<strong> Terence Crawford (35-0) vs. Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-0-1); WBO Welterweight Title </strong>
Terence Crawford is one of the world’s best fighters, but he struggles to land big meaningful fights in a talent rich welterweight division.
Crawford is thirty two years old and the clock to get a big name fight in his athletic prime is starting to tick. His opponent isn’t much younger as Kavaliauskas is thirty one years old. Kavaliauskas will have abount a once inch height advantage but Crawford will have a three inch reach advantage.
Both boxers had extensive amateur backgrounds. Crawford was a former PAL Champ and a US National Champ as an amateur. Kavaliauskas represented Lithuania in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics.
Kavaliauskas has been slightly more active than Crawford. He fought once in 2019, but fought three times in 2018 and in 2017. Crawford fought once in 2019, and twice in 2018 and in 2017.
Crawford has never tasted defeat as a professional and has won rather convincingly in every bout he’s been involved in. He has defeated the likes of Amir Khan, Jose Benavidez Jr., Jeff Horn, Julius Indongo, Felix Diaz, John Molina Jr., Viktor Postol, Henry Lundy, Thomas Dulorme, Raymundo Beltran, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Ricky Burns, and Andrey Klimov.
Kavaliauskas lone blemish on his professional record was a majority draw with Ray Robinson in Philadelphia. He has defeated the likes of Roberto Arriaza, Juan Carlos Abreu, David Avanesyan, Mahonri Montes, and Prenice Brewer.
Crawford has been angling for a big name fight for what seems like a majority of his career. He deserves it, but beating Kavaliauskas is expected of him and likely won’t add much hype for his chance at a big name fight.
By: Hans Themistode
Pound for pound star Terence Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs) will make the third defense of his WBO Welterweight title on December 14th, when he takes on Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KOs). The card will take place at Madison Square Garden, in New York City.
For Crawford, he will look to keep his name amongst the best in the division with a big victory. Many were hoping that Crawford would be in a more high profile fight but with many of the top names unavailable to him at the current moment, he elected to take on his mandatory challenger.
Kavaliauskas sports an undefeated record in his 22 pro fights but he has faced absolutely no one of note. In his first step up in competition, the undefeated title contender fought to a draw against Ray Robinson earlier this year. It was a disappointing result for the fighter nicknamed the “Mean Machine”.
Still, even with his short comings in his last bout, Crawford refuses to overlook his upcoming opponent.
“Egidijus Kavaliauskas is a two-time Olympian, and I can’t take him lightly,” Crawford said. “He’s got everything to gain and nothing to lose, and that makes him dangerous. I never overlook any opponent, and this will be no exception. I’ll be ready for anything and everything he brings on Dec. 14 when I return to my second home, Madison Square Garden, and live on ESPN.”
The credentials of Kavaliauskas might be in question, but don’t bring that topic of conversation up to him. He has fought his way to this mandatory position and intends on making the most of it.
“I have prepared my whole boxing career for a fight of this magnitude,” said Kavaliauskas, who fights out of Oxnard, California. “Terence Crawford is an excellent fighter, but I fear no man. Nobody has seen the best of the ‘Mean Machine’ yet. I am going to shock a lot of people on Dec. 14, but it won’t be a surprise to me. I earned this title shot. It is my time.”
With unified Welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr recently waging a war with former champion Shawn Porter and one time belt holder Danny Garcia along with Keith Thurman all in line for big time fights, it has left Crawford in some what of a boxing limbo.
The multiple division champion has been bellowing for a chance to prove that he is indeed the best in the division. For now, his cries won’t be answered.
If he wants the big fights that are currently unavailable to him in his division, then he will need to dispatch of Kavaliauskas in impressive fashion on December 14th.
By: Kirk Jackson
Retired, multi-divisional boxing champion, Timothy Bradley is accustomed to daring statements. Normally, they were in the form of his actions inside the boxing ring, but his recent statements regarding the welterweight scene – WBO welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford and IBF welterweight champion Errol “The Truth” Spence in particular, has the boxing world buzzing.
Yeah, he’s (Spence) ducking him. He’s ducking Terence Crawford,” stated Bradley, when asked about an anticipated fight between boxing’s top welterweights.
“He (Spence) don’t want to fight Terence Crawford. I’m telling you right now, because if he did, and he wanted to be considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the game, he’ll fight Terence Crawford. But the fact that he’s not fighting Terence Crawford, to me (means he’s ducking him). I don’t care about no side of the fence,” said Bradley in saying that Crawford and Spence being with rival promotional companies doesn’t matter.
“This is the world of boxing. It makes me sad when I watch a boxing event, and they don’t even have a champion like Terence Crawford in their lineup. That pisses me off. I’m like, ‘what are you doing? Do you have your own world of boxing over there? You have your own thing going on.’ It’s horrible, man. It’s not right, but it is what it is. I guess that’s what we’re going to say. It sucks.”
“Terence Crawford and Errol Spence are the two best welterweights in the game right now, period,” said Bradley to AB Boxing News.
“Then you’ve got Manny Pacquiao with along with them. Okay, I don’t know how it went down, but he didn’t fight Terence Crawford. To me, that tells me something. I can’t put Pacquiao over Terence Crawford. I can’t. Then you look at Errol Spence, what has he done so far?”
Bradley continued, “It’s not equal to what Pacquiao has done, but he’s the younger gun, he’s the bigger guy. He has the style that can give Pacquiao problems. In the Mikey Garcia fight, you saw that he threw over 1,000 punches. So he has the output, he has the know-how. He can give Pacquiao more than enough resistance, and probably pull off the win without a doubt in my mind. But TC (Terence Crawford) to me and Errol Spence are the two best guys at 147,” said Bradley.
As it pertains to Bradley’s proclamations, any fighter’s resume can be dissected and portrayed in various ways. Bradley’s recent statements, declaring Spence is flat-out ducking Crawford, may appear like a bit of a stretch.
Especially considering, Spence recently defeated a top 10 pound-for-pound opponent (Mikey Garcia) and is slated to unify welterweight world titles in September, against a multiple-time welterweight champion, Shawn Porter. While in comparison, the last two opponents for Crawford are David Benavidez and Amir Khan.
While Benavidez is considered a solid contender, it’s questionable how much he has left as a fighter on the elite level, due to injuries suffered in recent years.
Khan is a multiple division champion, but after suffering a devastating knock-out defeat to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez back in 2016, many also questioned how much he has left in the tank.
While Bud has a solid case comparatively to Spence, with a greater list of accolades head-to-head for their professional career up to this point, the standing may change depending on what happens within the next couple of years.
However, Spence arguably has the greater resume as far as opponents faced and defeated to this point.
“I don’t think we’ll ever see them fight. I really don’t,” said Bradley about the pairing of Spence and Crawford. “It’s terrible. Those guys should fight. The economics of boxing. That’s just the way it is, I guess. It freaking sucks. I want to see you guys get in, and stop saying you’re no. 1.”
“You fight Terence Crawford, and you fight Errol Spence. I know Terence wants the fight, but Errol ain’t saying nothing. Come on, you know what I’m saying? Terence, he’s been saying, ‘I want this fight. I want the Errol Spence fight,’ but they’re not answering that phone. They don’t want to do business,” said Bradley.
Contrary to Bradley’s belief however, both Spence and Crawford publicly stated the desire and necessity to fight each other to establish undisputed claim of welterweight supremacy.
Bradley is employed by ESPN and while in the midst of trashing the competition (Premier Boxing Champions), the former multi-divisional champion is neglecting to mention key aspects that weaken his argument.
The analysis appears one-sided from the former champion and a question to ponder is why the hyperbole from Bradley? Why such disdain for Spence? To solve this question, one only has to only look at all the connections.
Bradley and Crawford are good friends, “Bud” having trained and sparred with Bradley for subsequent camps leading up to his fights in the past. It’s obvious, even as an analyst, Bradley’s view on the situation will come across as biased.
It can be argued, Bradley is taking the same path as other ESPN contemporizes; bold proclamations, in such captivating attention and response, while in some cases, drawing the ire of a fan base, depending on the athlete or team featured as the subject of analysis.
Just to clarify, ESPN isn’t the only network or media outlet that may rely on intrepid declarations, “Shock-Jock” like analysis, or melodramatic trolling to draw ratings.
Interesting though, if we draw comparison to the opponent selection for another highly regarded champion, who happens to fight in a higher weight class across the ESPN network, Bradley appears tight-lipped when discussing the opponent selection of lineal and ESPN-branded heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
Fury, while fighting to a disputed draw last December, has unfinished business with Wilder. While a deal is in place for Wilder and Fury to rematch at some point early in 2020, the optics of Fury vs. Tom Scharwz and against Otto Wallin is all but a good look.
Long story short; there is a long list of not optimal-opposition for many of Top Rank’s star-quality fighters. ESPN of course, primarily features Top Rank fighters.
Even if we’re in the age of network battles and promoter feuds, it’s hard to excuse Fury for his recent level of opposition.
Especially considering, many observers (myself included) believes he is as great as he says he is. If Fury defeated WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder as easily as he claims, his recent opposition does not exude that measure of confidence.
Vasyl Lomachenko and Crawford for that matter, are considered the top pound-for-pound fighters of boxing at this moment of time. They just so happen to be under Top Rank promotions. While they are certainly great fighters, it can be argued their recent string of opposition isn’t all that great.
Finances may play a factor in more ways than one, every fight has a negotiation process – typically between opposite management teams and in some cases opposing promotional companies, but Top Rank can do better than matching Lomachenko against Miguel Marriaga, Jason Sosa and Anthony Crolla.
And they can certainly do better, than matching “Bud” against Amir Khan, Jose Benavidez and Jeff Horn.
The Horn fight was about acquiring the WBO welterweight title, the Khan fight was a money fight and Benavidez was personal. Were any of these opponents considered the crème de la crème by boxing analysts and fans across the board?
Not suggesting the blame falls on Crawford or on Lomachenko, but Top Rank can do better with securing greater opponents. Top Rank and the other promoters can do better, but do they want to?
What’s difficult to excuse, is the lack of transparency from Bradley. He is a former fighter and being as he is so closely tied with Top Rank, his denigration of Spence in favor of Crawford comes across as doing Bob Arum’s dirty work.
If Bradley is honest with his analysis, other aforementioned issues would also be addressed, he would use his influence and stance to apply pressure on the promotional companies and networks to make the fights we all want to see.
Why wasn’t Bradley adamant about Pacquiao facing Crawford while they were both with Top Rank and considered the top guys around from 140-147?
When it comes ducking fights, why wasn’t Bradley trying to fight Spence, when he was awarded an opportunity for the WBC welterweight title as the mandated No. 1 challenger? He instead opted for retirement.
As it was reported in 2016 by Lance Pugmire of The Los Angeles Times, the World Boxing Council (WBC) ordered a fight between Tim Bradley and Errol Spence. This news was conveyed by Pugmire during the annual WBC convention.
“He said the WBC ordered the fight?” stated Bradley in the interview referencing Spence.
“He right, I fought Manny Pacquiao instead of Errol Spence for one. Two, this is the second thing now, when the hell have we been doing business, or anybody from Top Rank been doing business with Al Haymon?”
So with that statement, among other quotes from the interview, Bradley again contradicted himself.
The road block from keeping Spence and Crawford from happening is the difference with promotional companies. Spence is self-promoted and advised by Al Haymon, representing the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC). Crawford for the time being, is promoted through Arum and Top Rank.
Bradley claimed historically, the two sides do not do business together. So why only the blame on Spence, if there is no bias from a boxing analyst?
It can be difficult for two companies to work together, but Top Rank and PBC displayed in the past, the ability to work together.
That’s how Floyd Mayweather (advised by Haymon) ended up facing Manny Pacquiao (at the time promoted by Arum). Another example is Fury and Wilder – slated for next year.
In referencing the desire from Spence to face Pacquiao, why wouldn’t he possess the desire to face Pacquiao?
Sen. Pacquiao recently defeated Keith Thurman, he is one of the belt holders in the division, he is a future hall of famer and barring a comeback from Mayweather, Pacquiao arguably draws the most money in boxing.
Why wouldn’t Spence want Pacquiao on his resume, along with the world title and financial incentives that come with it?
It’s the same incentives Bradley chased on three occasions in reference to his matches with Pacquiao. It’s the same set of incentives Crawford has chased going on more than four years now.
What’s important to mention debunking this ducking narrative, both fighters acknowledge the need to face one another and concede neither fighter is ducking one another.
Both Crawford and Spence respect one another. While they may maintain a great measure of confidence in their unique abilities and talents, as they acknowledge one another as challenging contemporaries.
“Terence Crawford a fighter, man. I respect Terence Crawford. I got his number, he got my number,” said Spence, in an interview. “I respect him, I like him a lot, I feel like he’s a real fighter, a good guy, things like that, but it’s a business side too.”
Do you think Spence ducking you?
— David Aldea Jr. (@davidaldeajr) August 1, 2019
While it may take time for things to fall in order, this welterweight fantasy match-up, featuring the two best fighters, in boxing’s deepest division, is an absolute possibility.
Time will reveal if this potential match-up happens for one, and if it transpires, has historic implications like Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns, Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao or Felix Trinidad vs. Oscar De La Hoya.
For now, until proven otherwise, Crawford and Spence are on an eventual course to meet for the battle of welterweight supremacy. If there is ducking going on, there is not enough evidence suggesting it’s going on between these two at this given time.
By: Hans Themistode
The Welterweight division is currently in a golden era. This current group of fighters, aren’t just great in this era, but they would be in any era. An argument can be made for anyone ranked within the top five in the division to be considered number one.
The best way to end any debate is by taking a look at not just a fighters skillset but also by taking a look at their resume. Danny Garcia, Manny Pacquiao, Terence Crawford, Errol Spence Jr. and Shawn Porter are widely regarded as the best that the weight class has to offer. Ranking them however, can get a bit tricky.
It seems as though this calendar year, they are all determined to stand alone. There is one problem with that notion. With the exception of Terence Crawford, they are all signed to Premier Boxing Champions. This is where the problem begins and ends for Crawford.
As mentioned earlier, these fighters represents the best in the Welterweight division. Danny Garcia is two weight world champion and has defeated many hall of fame level fighters including Zab Judah, Erik Morales and Amir Khan to name a few. Shawn porter has managed to win the Welterweight world title on two occasions and is undoubtedly one of the most physical Welterweights the division has ever seen.
Former unified Welterweight champion and current WBA belt holder Keith Thurman arguably has the best resume of anyone in the entire division outside, of Pacquiao. IBF champ Errol Spence Jr is a monster inside of the ring. Simply put, he has everything needed to rule the division for quite some time. Manny Pacquiao is an all-time great fighter.
As boxing’s only eight division world champion, the accolades of Pacquiao stands alone. Even at the age of 40, he has shown no signs of slowing down. Last but certainly not least is Terence Crawford. To describe Crawford with one word would be virtually impossible. Too sum up the Omaha native is simple. He is the closet we have ever seen to Sugar Ray Leonard. Yes he’s that good.
These Welterweight stars have a loaded boxing calendar in front of them. Well, most of them do.
Both Spence and Porter are headed towards a unification contest that is set to take place sometime in the fall. Pacquiao and Thurman have their own battle that will be taking place in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 20th. Danny Garcia, has been rumored to have his own monumental showdown with four division world champion Mikey Garcia in the second half of the year as well. What does these bouts say about this current group of fighters? They want to be the best.
With that being said, where does that leave Terence Crawford? The undefeated WBO titlist isn’t just viewed as the best Welterweight in the division, but many believe he is the best fighter in the world.
After successfully unifying the Jr Welterweight division, Crawford has picked up a few noticeable wins in his new weight class. His size, power and skill has translated seamlessly in his new found division. For as good as Crawford is however, he hasn’t truly, been given the opportunity to show it. With all of the top names facing one another for supremacy, it has effectively left Crawford out of the mix.
There seems to be no end in sight as Crawford is being positioned for a November showdown against WBO number one contender, Egidijus Kavaliauskas. The hard hitting Lithuanian has shown promise in his young career, but lacks not just the skill, but the name value to provide Crawford with the type of bout he deserves.
Manny Pacquiao is an absolute lock for the hall of fame. Garcia, Porter, Thurman, Spence and Crawford are all building their own case.
When this era of boxing is done and over with, how will it be remembered? One of the best eras for the Welterweight division, that’s for sure. It’s great that all of these top notch fighters are getting the chance to prove their worth. It’s just a shame that Terence Crawford might possibly be the best of them all, but he isn’t being given those same opportunities that his peers are currently enjoying.
Terence Crawford needs a big fight now, more than ever.
By: Rahat Haque
There was thick tension in the air. Fans and media had really hyped this fight. Everyone has heard of the phrase “styles make fights”. Khan’s fast hands and feet were supposed to at least irk Crawford, if not more. After the two national anthems were sung, after the fighters were introduced, and after the first bell, all of our curiosities regarding this fight would finally be answered. All of us were at the edge of our seats, in the ring, or at our homes, anticipating what was about to take place. Right from the first exchange, we got our answers.
This version of Amir Khan was nothing like the former speedy gunslinger we once knew. This is not taking anything away from Crawford. Indeed, the way Terence stays in the eye of the storm, totally panic free, to deliver his well-measured shots, is a beauty to behold. We have not seen such a confident, well-poised, skilled boxer puncher in some time. But that was not the revelation of the fight that took place Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. It was how much Khan had slowed down.
Right from the first round, it was quite apparent that Khan’s hand speed had gone down. All his lunges seemed premeditated, and if we could feel it through the screen, Terence “Bud” Crawford would have surely observed it being in the ring. When Khan came forward with his flurry of punches, his head was more stationary than it usually is. Yes, he had always fought like this, but his style never came off as robotic as it did on Saturday night. He was successful in touching Crawford, before suffering the inevitable knockdown that was on the horizon given how predictable and rigid all his movements were. Crawford rightly capitalized on it. This continued for 5 more rounds. Khan did seem to connect more than Crawford on round 2, and I gave him that round. But there was absolutely no fear in Terence, Khan’s punches touched him, but had no real effect on him. This could be attributed to Terence’s great defense, a la moving with the punches to soften the blows. On the other hand, whenever Terence touched Amir, the latter seemed to take the full brunt of the shots. Crawford peppered Khan’s face in the early round with thudding blows, and did the same to his body in the 4th and 5th round, reducing the Bolton native’s mobility.
The ending was bizarre, and no one saw it coming. A TKO as a result of a low blow. Khan had the option to take 5 minutes, which he did not. He shaked his head repeatedly as Virgil asked him if he wanted to continue in more than one occasion. So then, it can be said that Khan and his camp knew he was outclassed in those 6 rounds, despite perhaps winning one or two rounds. It was still strange however, to not see him go all out fighting. We have to take his word that the low blow really incapacitated him, and that 5 minutes would not be enough to recover.
But what did we learn from the 6 rounds of action? We learned more about Khan than we learned about Crawford. The Nebraska man did what he was expected to. But most fans did not expect it to be as easy as it was for him. This comes down to the changes in Khan, and cannot be attributed simply to the sheer brilliance of Crawford. Khan’s last two fights were not against noteworthy opponents. His fight with Canelo was mismatch in weight. His last win against a credible opponent was against Devon Alexander. Some may say Chris Algieri. But judging by what everyone saw in his half a bout with Crawford, would this Khan be able to replicate his successes against the likes of Alexander, Maidana, Judah, Kotelnik? These are the questions that come to mind after witnessing such a lackluster performance. More importantly, can this Khan even avenge the loss versus a Danny Garcia, a fight most of his fans were sure of him winning if he had a second chance? It does not look good for Khan at all at the moment.
Perhaps part of the problem was changing trainers. Khan was at his most lethal with Freddy Roach. Indeed, one cannot conjure up another name besides Manny Pacquiao who found as much success with that fast combination punching as Khan did under the tutelage of Freddy. Making adjustments in fights is necessary to assess the situation. But is it possible to change a whole fight’s modus operandi midway in his career? Khan was never known for his defense, or for his inside fighting, or for even being slick really. But by pressing the action, going in and out with his quick feet, and using his fast hands to land a combination on his opponent when in range, is something he did really well. He was able to look marvellous doing it with Peterson, which is the quintessential Khan fight. He would absorb punishment on the inside when the fight was fought at close quarters, but it was nothing like the terrible punishment of a head thudding knee buckling shot that he would take when being countered in the middle of the ring. The latter has been more reflective of his performances these days.
The whole waiting and timing and countering style of play does not suit him. He will always get outclassed even by lesser names, if he tries to do that. Yet, Virgil seems hell bent in trying to convert him to just that type of a fighter. I understand and respect strategizing to your opponent’s strengths, but there is a point of diminishing returns where not only do you not learn your new skills, but you begin to forget your old skills. This is precisely what happened to Khan. He was never a timer of punches, nor was he ever known for any ring generalship or defense, whereby he could hang with a slick boxer puncher in the middle of the ring. What he could do however, was use his dynamic punching to dazzle his opponents before pulling out. But on Saturday night, he could do neither! And that left him terribly exposed against one of the best finishers in the game in Terence Crawford. It could also be that his motor is not what it used to be given his age. Full credit to Terence for picking up this risky fight. But because of the way he humiliated Khan in there, there will be much less buzz about Khan in his next fight. If people were not sure before, the former Olympic silver medalist is now surely entering the twilight of his career. His best is past him.
By: Donna Jo
No knowledgeable boxing fan will argue against the assertion that any list of great current boxers would include the name Terence Crawford somewhere near the top of the list. The names on Crawford’s list of defeated foes are impressive and his record now stands at 34-0 with 25 knockouts.
The following breakdown sheds some light on why Terence Crawford has been so dominant over his professional boxing career.
Terence Crawford is a master technician in the ring. He never rushes when dissecting an opponent. He can punch for power in both hands and often switches back and forth between orthodox and southpaw stances.
His offense is enhanced by his ability to move his head and upper body to elude punches while moving forward at this opponent. This gains great punching angles for Crawford while decreasing his opponents’ counterpunching opportunities.
Crawford will often lead with a straight left hand from the southpaw stance. This often leaves opponents confused. All in all, the average fan has a tendency to underrate the offense of Crawford. However, his opponents will attest to the high-powered arsenal Terence Crawford possesses.
Ability To Counter
Despite a natural tendency to be aggressive, Crawford has the ability of a natural counterpuncher. His elusiveness allows him to make opponents miss. He is then able to make them regret every errant punch they throw.
Crawford’s weapon of choice when counterpunching is the uppercut. He is often seen ducking under a punch thrown at him only to quickly return fire with an uppercut.
Terrence is also able to land uppercuts to the body or head after rolling with the punch of an opponent.
Another favorite counter of Terence Crawford is the check left hook he throws after taking a half step back to avoid an incoming attack.
Crawford’s athleticism makes it extremely difficult for opponents to land combinations against him. He uses his reflexes and movement of his upper body to avoid the majority of punches thrown in his direction. The defense of Terence Crawford is the equivalent of a top-notch security system.
The only chinks in Crawford’s defensive armor come when he fights from the southpaw position. Straight right hands can be landed from orthodox fighters and right hooks sometimes land from southpaws when Terrence fights from this position.
Crawford is very good at blocking punches when he chooses to do so. But in most cases, he finds it more to his liking to avoid punches with his upper body movement.
Crawford has fought more from the southpaw stance in his last few fights. From this position, he likes to paw and probe at his opponent’s defense with his right jab. Crawford is often able to distract the man across from him with his jab and will cause them to second guess their next move.
When his opponent jabs, Crawford turns his own jab into a defensive weapon and uses it to check the jab of his opponent. He is able to keep his opponent unsure of when his jab will be used to slap down the opposing jab and when it will be aimed at his opponent’s face.
The final piece to the Crawford puzzle is his extraordinary footwork. He is almost never a stationary target in the ring and his opponents find it difficult to time his movements.
Crawford uses his agility to constantly move from left to right and sometimes switches stances while doing so. His athleticism allows him to keep his opponent at a distance that favors Crawford throughout the fight.
Crawford uses his movement to negate the offense of opponents who find themselves hesitant to throw punches. While opponents struggle to find their timing, Crawford is able to break them down with his own offense.
The Bottom Line
Terence Crawford has few equals when it comes to showcasing his skills in the boxing ring. Many opponents have left the ring after a fight with Crawford more puzzled regarding the secrets to his ring prowess than they were before they entered the ring.
Fortunately for fans, we can attempt to decipher the reasons behind Terence Crawford’s elite boxing ability without having to step in the ring with one of the greatest fighters in the game today.
By: Waqas Ali
Amir Khan’s career is somewhat hanging in the balance as many spectators believe it’s time for him to hang up the gloves.
His recent contest with WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford ended in turmoil as he decided that he could no longer continue after suffering a low blow.
The bout took place in Madison Square Garden in front of 14,000 plus spectators.
The British boxer was knocked down in the first round by a counter right hand – followed by a left hook on top.
Khan, 32, managed to recover from the knockdown and throw his trademark of combinations in the second round but did very little effect on Crawford.
Crawford, 31, was looking rather comfortable and used his counter-punching efficiently and landed some left hands and right hooks.
In the fourth round, it was pretty much competitive as both fighters landed little but threw virtually the same hard-hitting shots.
By the fifth, both fighters threw punches that got the rising to their feet. Early on Khan threw a dazzling left hook to Crawford that wooed the crowd but very little in terms of damage.
Crawford (35-0 26 KOs), also known as Bud, came back in the last 90 seconds of the fight with more hard hitting punches. Around the 40 second mark, Crawford landed a big uppercut Khan that pushed him back a little.
Their punches were sweet to see but sour to taste.
Within the five completed rounds, Khan, a former two-time world champion, landed less than 10 punches in four of them with an average accuracy rate of just 24%.
Crawford, who had fought in the welterweight division now three-times, landed 26 of 53 punches with a connect rate of 49% in the fifth. His average connect rate was around 40%.
In the sixth round, Khan was hit with a clear low blow on his groin which came from a left hook by Crawford.
He was awarded the full five minutes but lasted about 45 seconds before his corner came in and said that Virgil did not want Khan continuing to fight.
Crawford was leading 49-45 50-44 49-45 on the cards at the time of the stoppage.
Compubox total statistics revealed that Crawford landed 88 of 211 (41%) punches thrown and Khan landed 44 of 182 (24%). In the power punching department, Crawford landed 58 of 116 attempted – connecting at a rate of 50%.
In spite of fans and viewers insisting Khan to retire, he feels he still has a lot more in the tank to deliver.
“I have a lot left in me,” Khan (33-5) told BBC Sport.
“I will always get opportunities.”
Asked if it would be the last bout of his career, Khan said: “Not at all. Apart from the one knockdown, it wasn’t a brutal fight.
“I am going to spend time with the family and take time off. I’ll see what comes up after this.”
According to a poll on Twitter conducted by EditinKing Boxing, out of 6,100 plus voters, 58% say that Khan should retire and 35% says that he should fight Brook.
What next for Amir ‘King’ Khan?
— EditinKing Boxing (@EditinKing) April 21, 2019
The boxing world both from the casual and hardcore fans perspective have mainly stated that he should retire.
The styles and variations of Keith Thurman, Errol Spence and Shawn Porter could be seen as too strong and powerful.
Considering his chin has been his biggest flaw, it would be a great risk for him to fight those guys.
The only opponent that has been debated for so many years is former IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook, who is from Sheffield.
One must keep in mind that they had sparring sessions together in the past when they were amateurs.
Their out-of-ring rivalry began in 2012 when they both appeared on Sky Sports TV show ‘Ringside’ debating who out-classed the other in the amateur sparring sessions.
Since then both fighters had been at loggerheads with each other over the years. Brook did not win a world title until he beat Shawn Porter in a close competitive fight in August 2014.
He then challenged Gennady Golovkin for the WBC, IBF and IBO middleweight belts in September 2016 but failed to come close to winning.
He then defended his IBF welterweight title by facing boxing technician Errol Spence Jr in May 2017 but was stopped in the eleventh round.
Khan challenged Saul Alvarez for the WBC middleweight belt in May 2016 but failed to prevail.
Since the beginning of 2019, the talks of the highly anticipated British clash between Khan and Brook have died out due to both men hitting their ages and many fans believe that the bout should’ve taken place back in 2014 or 2015 when both fighters were at their peak.
But based on the whole scenario and the evidence brought forth, it is a difficult one to make considering the amount of money that can be made with the Brook fight.
However, should that fight be made and if he lost to Brook, it would haunt him for the rest of his boxing career. Apart from the Brook fight, it would be best to hang up the gloves and call it a day.
Khan has achieved big things in his boxing career. He became the youngest British boxing Olympic Silver medallist in 2004. He fought Mario Kindelán who is considered to be one of the best amateur boxers ever.
He’s fought some of the best names in boxing today such as Marco Antonio Barrera, Andriy Kotelnik, Paul Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana, Zab Judah, Julio Diaz, Luis Collazo. Devon Alexander, Chris Algieri, Lamont Peterson, Danny Oscar Garcia & Saul Alvarez.
Whatever one’s opinion may be of Khan, there is no denying the ruthless speed which is equivalent to the speed of lightning, which he has provided over the years and is certainly a household name wherever he fights.
He not only fights for himself. But for Bolton. For England. For Great Britain and for people around the world.
By: William Holmes
Amir Khan and Terence Crawford met in the main event of tonight’s pay per view offering by Top Rank Promotions and ESPN. Madison Square Garden was the host site of tonight’s card.
Three bouts were shown on the pay per view portion of the undercard and they showed some videos after the undercard to hype up the main event.
Danny Walter sung the national anthem of the United Kingdom. The national anthem of the United States was sung by Marissa Ann. Amir Khan entered the ring first and Terence Crawford came in second.
The following is a round by round recap of tonight’s main event.
Terence Crawford (34-0) vs. Amir Khan (33-4); WBO Welterweight Title
Crawford looked intensely at Khan during the referee instructions. Both boxers start off in an orthodox stance. Khan goes with a body head combination but doesn’t land much. Crawford misses a check left hook, but follows it with a short left hook that partially lands. Khan comes forward with a double jab. Crawford is light on his feet. Khan misses with a two punch combination but lands a short left hook upstairs. Amir Khan throws out a few more jabs. Crawford lands a good short right hand and follows it with a two punch combination that knocks Amir Khan down. Crawford is looking for the knockout an dis pressing the pace. Khan is attempting to tie up at end of round and Crawford lands some heavy right hands as round comes to an end.
Khan was rattled as he walked to his corner in the previous round. Crawford paws out a few jabs and looks ready to surge forward. Khan circling away throwing out a few soft jabs. Khan with a two punch combination. Crawford throws out another two punch combination and bounces some off the guard of Khan. Khan lands a good straight right hand on Crawford. Khan is reaching for his punches a bit. Crawford lands another lead right hand and momentarily wobbles Khan. Crawford lands a good right to the body. Khan lands a good short left hook on Crawford. Khan may be recovered from that first round knockdown.
10-9 Crawford; 20-17 Crawford.
Crawford lands an early jab. Khan comes forward and lands a good two punch combination. Crawford flicks out another jab and has Khan backing up. Crawford lands a good straight right hand. Khan lands a looping left hook. Crawford is controlling the territory of the ring. Khan’s hand speed is giving Crawford a little trouble. Crawford is more patient this round and looking for counters, but Khan may be stealing it by throwing first. Closer round.
10-9 Khan, 29-27 Crawford
Crawford paws out a few jabs. Crawford in a southpaw stance. Crawford connects with a straight left hand. Crawford pawing out a few jabs, lands a good straight left hand. Khan lands a good multi punch combination upstairs on Crawford. Good body shot by Khan gets a tongue out response from Crawford. Khan rushes forward with a combination and Crawford ducks under. Khan lands a good straight right hand and Crawford answers with a combination to the body and head. Crawford’s punches do more damage than Khan. Crawford landing some heavy body shots on Khan. Khan getting hammered by Crawford. Good straight right by Khan at end of the round.
10-9 Crawford; 39-36 Crawford
Crawford lands an early jab on Khan. Khan throws a double jab to the body of Crawford. Crawford lands a vicious two punch combination on Khan with his back against the ropes. Crawford lands a vicious right hook on Khan. Crawford starting to put a beating on Khan this round. Khan is reaching a bit for his punches, and Crawford makes him pay with good counters. Crawford with two more heavy shots to the body of Khan. Crawford looks extremely confident and barely misses with a windmill uppercut. Khan lands a reaching hook. Amir Khan lands a good right hand at the end of the round.
10-9 Crawford; 49-45 Crawford
Khan misses with a jab to the body. Crawford is dictating the pace and barely misses with a two punch counter. Khan lunges forward on his attacks. Crawford lands a low blow and Khan visibly reacts. Khan is given time to recover.
The fight was stopped due to the low blow as Amir Khan is unable to continue.
The referee has to determine if the low blow was accidental or purposeful. If it is determined to be accidental the fight will go to the scorecards.
However, it appears the fight was not stopped due to a low blow, but due to Virgil Hunter asking Amir Khan if he wanted to continue and he said no. Therefore, Crawford gets a TKO victory since Amir Khan could not continue.
Terence Crawford wins by TKO at 0:47 of the sixth round.
By: Oliver McManus
In less than 48 hours time Madison Square Garden will play host to the latest “super-fight” to grace the extravagant parlour synonymous with glamour boxing. Super fight is, perhaps, a little generous for the billing of Terence Crawford vs Amir Khan. Certainly there is a distinct favourite with Crawford fetching odds anywhere between 1/12 and 1/25 (-1200 / -2500 for those in the States). Make no mistake, however, this is not a mismatch such as in Rocky Fielding’s audacious bid to retain his WBA ‘Regular’ belt against Canelo Alvarez – that was, as they say, “daring to be great”. Khan and Crawford have, to a relative extent, already proved their credentials.
This will not be an analytical breakdown of how the contest may go, nor glossing over the legacies that either fighter has carved out for themselves. Indeed there’s plenty of pre-existing works out there – No Filter Boxing by BT Sport, a sterling example. Rather these are just my musings, splattered onto the internet.
Crawford for me is one of the most criminally underrated boxers of the current generation. It seems a lifetime ago that he was back campaigning at lightweight – a division in which he claimed the WBO belt, initially, with a win over Ricky Burns. To think that was five years ago just boggles the brain but since then he’s claimed world titles at super lightweight and, his current division, welterweight. Of course he’s benefited from the WBO’s position on “super mandatories”, securing him an instant world title shot in each new division, but he’s still had to win the titles.
Not once could you say he’s struggled, either, certainly not when becoming undisputed with a resounding knockout victory over Julius Indongo. Materialistically that was the biggest fight of his career but, of course, Indongo was a flash in the pan when it came to his success. It’s safe to say that Omaha resident has never shied from a challenge but Amir Khan should be his stiffest opponent of his brief spell at welterweight and, arguably, since Viktor Postol in July 2016.
The question of Crawford’s position on the pound for pound list is a topic that is, rightly, hotly contested. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to have him poised at the top, given how untouchable he has looked throughout three weight divisions but, then, the same could be said for Naoya Inoue. It comes down to who he’s faced and Crawford’s resumé just doesn’t carry the same heft as that of Canelo, Vasyl Lomachenko or Oleksandr Usyk.
There are plenty of exciting fights available around the 147lb division and even a fight with, an ageing, Manny Pacquiao would be an intriguing contest. Throw in Errol Spence, Mikey Garcia and the crop that ESPN are starting to bring through – Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Kudratillo Abdukakhorov – and suddenly a pathway becomes clear.
Khan, for all his flaws, never seems to get the credit he deserves. The domestic media coverage of this contest has been notable by its absence with Matchroom Boxing, the official co-promoters for the show, seemingly flogging Khan as a dead-horse back to the American market. The ongoing “now or never” saga with the Kell Brook fight brings inevitable frustration to any boxing fan but regardless of what either protagonist says, the fight will always be there as one final payday. How interested the viewing public will be is a different question altogether.
To an extent the level of scorn directed at Khan is understandable, for a plethora of reasons that all vary in relevance. Look at his actual boxing record and it’s hard to brush him aside as easily as some may wish – he has competed with success from lightweight to welterweight and jumped at the chance to topple Canelo Alvarez. Likewise with Crawford, his desire to prove himself as a potential hall-of-famer is unquestionable but Khan has actively pursued, and been involved in, these bouts with far more vigour.
The fact that he was caught short by Canelo, in resounding fashion, was an unfortunately abrupt ending to an otherwise competent boxing display in which he was more than holding his own. It’s fair to say Khan has never been outboxed by any of his opponents, never beaten for work-rate or stamina, but his four losses have came via a combination of defensive frailties and heavy hands from his opponents.
Living in a “Mayweather-era”, as it is colloquially dubbed, often proves a disservice to many fighters actually willing to take a risk. Look back throughout the decades and all the best fighters from Ali, Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard, have taken losses because the fear of taking a beating simply didn’t exist. Khan, in that respect, is a fighter from the history books and this fight against Crawford simply reiterates that.
It is, in all reality, his last chance at re-capturing a bona fide world title and I find it hard to ever do away with the chances of the Bolton-fighter as a result of his natural fighting ability that has earned him his stripes as an amateur professional. He made the more prosperous start to proceedings against Canelo and you’d favour him to do the same on Saturday but will he be able to sustain that pressure before Crawford figures him out?
Disregarded, almost, the point of derision. Amir Khan has got to go down as one of the best British fighters since the 1990s and I say that with gritted teeth for cannot claim to have ever warmed to him.
His latest challenge might well be one too many bites of the cherry but, equally, it could be the sweetest yet.
Top Rank on ESPN blow-by-blow commentator Joe Tessitore, analysts – former two-division world titleholder, Tim Bradley and former pound-for-pound two-division world champion, Andre Ward, participated in a media conference call yesterday to discuss the welterweight showdown between pound-for-pound king Terence “Bud” Crawford vs. former unified 140-pound champion Amir “King” Khan. Crawford-Khan will mark the first PPV event under the Top Rank on ESPN banner on Saturday, April 20 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT from Madison Square Garden.
A transcript of the conference call follows:
JOE TESSITORE: Thank you so much, and welcome, everybody. We’re thrilled as a production team to have this night. I sit there and you get the introduction there, and I hear we’re coming on the air with ESPN2 at 6 o’clock, knowing we’re coming on Pay-Per-View 9 o’clock.
So, now I’m sitting here looking at this bout sheet saying, holy cow, we’ve got to broadcast nine fights. This is unbelievable here, just the workload. But here’s what I love about Saturday night. And we’ll get into the main event plenty. When we put forth this relationship with Top Rank, one of the major themes was we’re going to serve the boxing fan really, really well.
And I think we all collectively feel good about what’s been accomplished since we went on the air with Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn from Australia a couple summers ago right through the past year, with the growth and development of ESPN+, with what we’ve been doing on ESPN. And I’m so sick of hearing my voice on a 30-second commercial promo right now on ESPN this week, and I’m sure everybody else is, too. But what it shows you is an unbelievable commitment from the network to put this sport forward the way it always should have been in the course of the last 25 to 30 years — that the role this support now plays on the landscape of American sports is back to what it always was, of being a very mainstream.
And this night really over-delivers to the fans, and we’re really excited about it. We just got done having our production meetings with all the fighters. And as much as we have arguably the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, an undefeated fighter, a generational talent in Bud Crawford against a global star, a well-marketed, former champion who still has tons of speed and skill and athleticism to make this a very competitive fight. We have a Pay-Per-View card that’s worthy of a Pay-Per-View card because you have rising undefeated stars, you have intrigue and next-generational talent kind of guys cars in Shakur Stevenson and Teofimo Lopez both taking step-up fights. And we feel like we’re going to over-deliver to the fans on Saturday night.
And I think in recent years — and, listen, this is ESPN’s first venture in this relationship of stepping into Pay-Per-View — in recent years you haven’t been able to say that about the sport, whether living in the corner of premium cable or whether living in the world of Pay-Per-View, which for the most part was economic relief for promoters and networks rather than really delivering a hefty night to the fans.
And we feel from 6 o’clock through or past midnight on Saturday night we are going to serve the fan. And that is first and foremost.
Now, the primary way we’re going to serve the fan is two very determined world-class fighters being in the ring at the end of all of that.
Just moments ago Bud Crawford and Amir Khan left the room that we’re sitting in now. I’ll let Tim and Andre tell you what they’re seeing, what they’re thinking, what they expecting in the fight. But here’s what I do know: We’re getting two guys at their absolute prime, at their absolute best, the version of each of them.
We got a very surly, and nasty Bud Crawford sit with us before, and we’ve had that version of Bud Crawford sit with us in production meetings before. And when you get that version of Bud Crawford, you get a serious ending to a fight that’s memorable.
And we have Amir Khan feeling that right now, 33 wins into his career, fighting in a weight class where he’s undefeated, feeling a sense of maturity, having a 12-week training camp with Virgil Hunter, he sits here and he tells us that he’s completely ready.
And then you hear the deference shown from Bud Crawford of recognizing Amir Khan’s physical gifts — his boxing skills, his legs, his straight punches, his fighting prowess — and I have a feeling that this fight, as it draws closer, is much more than how it was perceived when it was first signed.
Anytime you go up against a guy like Vasiliy Lomachenko or Bud Crawford, I don’t care who is opposite them, the early perception of the fight is, ah, man, we know what’s going to happen here. Listen, I have great intrigue as to what’s going to happen in the first six to eight rounds of this fight.
Much like we’ve seen other times with Amir Khan. Tell me about an Amir Khan fight that you’ve ever seen — listen, the guy went all the way up to 160 pounds against Canelo Alvarez; he’s never in a bad fight.
And I think we’re getting the absolute best version of him here. I want to turn it over to Tim.
TIM BRADLEY: I’m just glad to be here, one. And also after last week, looking at arguably the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the game, Lomachenko, now we’re coming back this week to look at Terence Bud Crawford, and we get to compare the two.
Different opponents but I love the fact that we get to compare the two, and the fans at home that’s going to be watching, they’ll get a show from Bud Crawford and Amir Khan.
I want to see if the fans at home can pick after watching Bud Crawford, their number one pound-for-pound — that’s what I’m interested in. And I want to see if Amir Khan still has a lot left in the tank. I want to see how well he prepared. And if he has the ability still to compete at the welterweight division.
ANDRE WARD: So I don’t know what else I can say that Joe and Tim haven’t said. But I will say I’m also excited about calling this fight on ESPN Pay-Per-View. I read a headline the other day that, basically it was a writer saying something to the effect — and he (writer) may be on this call right now — but something to the effect that he’s predicting or hoping for, you know, a failure for this Pay-Per-View.
And that’s just not the type of headline that should be written when we’re — the collective goal is to push this sport forward and to grow this sport.
And this type of card, this type of event is going to do that. And just like Joe said, from top to bottom, you have Verdejo, who is trying to reclaim the glory he once had. He doesn’t have one championship round under his belt. And he’s literally fighting for his boxing future to show the people that he’s still El Diamante, that he still has what it takes to be a champion one day.
Obviously you have a young man that I’m familiar with, Shakur Stevenson, who is — he wants to be in the top spot. He’s on the fast track. The team, Top Rank and obviously myself and the other managers, we’d like him to probably take a slower route. But in this day and age, man, the young fighters they want to move a lot faster. He has what it takes, but it’s not going to be easy against Diaz.
Diaz challenged for a world title not too long ago. He came up short. But he obviously showed that he’s in the running. He deserves to be in the race to be facing the top in the division. And he wants to show Shakur that Shakur picked the wrong contender to pick on.
You obviously have Teofimo Lopez, the co-main event. He’s in the peculiar position where, yes, he’s getting a lot of headlines; yes, he can fight. No doubt about that. But people still have questions, as they will for the course of his career, that’s how it goes.
How good is he and can he back up the big talk? And this is pressure that he and his father have heaped upon themselves. I respect it. It’s not an easy thing to do. You have enough pressure as is just being a young prospect with a hot name.
And they’re not only doing that, but they’re calling out guys like Lomachenko, who, again, depending on where you are on the pound-for-pound list or how you put either fighter, Crawford or Loma, he may be the best guy or number two, they’re calling for that guy. They’re not just saying we’re willing to face them; they’re demanding the fight.
That’s a lot of pressure to live up to and they’re doing it and I respect it. Whether you agree with it or not.
And then our main event, between Amir Khan and Terrance Crawford, I know Amir very well. It’s well publicized that he’s with my team. He has pretty much my whole team in the Bay Area.
Amir Khan is a silver medalist. The goods have always been there physically. But in the biggest moments he hasn’t been able to put it all together. And Amir’s issue is not information. It’s not knowing what to do or being told what to do. It’s always application; can he do it in the biggest moment?
And the question I would have for Amir Khan going into this fight is simply is it more important for you to prove to the people, the masses, the fans, the media how tough you are, or that you can take punishment, or that you’re a guy that has heart? Or is it more important to actually win the fight?
Because winning this fight, regardless of how he wins it, is really the only thing that’s going to extend his career.
Terrance Crawford, he has superseded just being in the discussion about fighting for titles. He’s done that. He’s been the undisputed champion at 140. He has plenty of belts. He’s in the position where every fight matters. And not just winning but how he wins, it matters when you’re in the discussion for pound-for-pound elite status, because clearly that is irrespective of weight class.
And every move, every performance is going to be scrutinized as it should be if you’re going to be in that discussion. So he’s not without pressure going into this fight. He not only has to win but he has to dominate and I would probably venture to say he probably needs a knockout to stay in that top conversation because of the history of Amir Khan.
Fans and media are going to match his performance up against every other top guy that Amir has fought. And that’s why I say — and I probably would never go on the record or at least up until this point I’ve yet to be on the record to say a guy needs a knockout — but because of Amir’s tasks he’s going to need that type of performance if he’s going to stay in the top spot or, for people who have number two, to supersede Loma. So here we are.
Q. Can you give fans your predictions for the fight goes the distance, many are predicting Kahn will KO. What if he doesn’t?
ANDRE WARD: If Khan is not KOed, I still believe Terence has more than enough ability to get the job done because of his style. He’s able to make adjustments in the ring. That’s why he’s considered among one of the best fighters pound-for-pound in the game.
Amir Khan has that amateur pedigree. He’s fought some tough guys. He does have a better resumé than Terence Crawford as far as opponents goes. But Amir Khan hasn’t really performed at the welterweight level, like Jake was saying, just yet. This is the big test at the welterweight division.
And if it does go the distance like I told you I think that Terence Crawford will win the decision without a doubt.
Bradley: I think I’ll answer the question. But I’ll reiterate what I said a few minutes ago. Obviously, a win is all that matters to Team Crawford. That’s what it’s about. That’s where the next payday comes. That’s where the next opportunity comes. You have to win. That’s first and foremost.
And I don’t believe personally that — obviously a knockout is better than a decision. That goes without saying. But I don’t think he feels like it’s a knockout or bust.
What I’m saying is in the eyes of most media members, and in the eyes of a lot of the fans, based on Amir Khan’s history, he’s going to be compared — the performance Saturday night is going to be compared to the other guys that stopped, the other three guys that stopped Amir Khan. And I still believe that if he dominated every round, he’s still at the top of the pound-for-pound list. But once again the reality is that the Crolla-Loma fight, whether you agree or not, whether I agree or not, is going to be compared to the Crawford-Khan fight.
So he’s in a tricky position, but this is a good position to be in. These are the waters you want to be in if you’re in the discussion, if you are dealing with the scrutiny of arguably being the best fighter in the world. That’s not something haphazard. That’s not something you just gloss over. That’s a big deal. But this is the kind of pressure that comes with it. We’ll see how the fight comes out.
TIM BRADLEY: And to piggyback off what Dre is saying, if you look at any of the top welterweights in the division — you know, you’ve got Errol Spence, Thurman and Shawn Porter — you look at these guys — Danny García, García has already knocked out Kahn.
If you match them with Kahn, you would bet that they would knock Kahn out. So it puts a lot of pressure on Terence Bud Crawford to get the knockout Saturday night.
ANDRE WARD: I’ll throw one more thing in there. If Canelo would have won a decision against Amir Kahn there would have been some boo birds. There would have been some people, a lot of critics saying, hey, this guy moved up to 160 — and I know it was two weight classes — but he moved up to 160 and you couldn’t stop him when he’s been stopped in the past?
Again, this is the reality of the situation. He’s going to be — this performance Saturday night is going to be compared not just to the other fights that Amir’s fought, but specifically the guys who have knocked him out. Everybody is going to match that up to the Crawford performance and say, oh, this is your pound-for-pound best. Well he didn’t do XYZ and that’s the name of the game and that’s how it goes.
Q. Tim, being that you’ve done big Pay-Per-Views and a lot of pressure has been on you, how much pressure is it on the Terence Crawford to deliver a spectacular performance even though he’s already knocked out the guy that knocked out Amir Kahn?
TIM BRADLEY: You know, being at the top level and to be mentioned in the top pound-for-pound, there’s always a lot of pressure. You know, this is Crawford’s second Pay-Per-View. There’s a lot of expectations from not only the media but also the boxing fans, the boxing world, (indiscernible) that he’s facing, Amir Khan, and the history of Khan in big fights and him being knocked out. So there’s a lot of pressure on Terrance Crawford going into this fight.
I have to say this, man. Khan is not as easy as everybody thinks. This fight is not going to be as easy as everybody thinks it’s going to be. Khan is highly motivated. He’s at a point in his career where he needs a fighter to get him up, and Terence Crawford is that guy. He’s that guy that, he has to dream about every single night for three months. And a guy that he should fear, because he knows what can happen because of the history that Khan has been in and has gone through. So Khan’s going to be ready more than what everybody thinks that he’s going to be.
He’s going to fight smart. He’s going to fight hard. He’s going to give Terence Crawford a challenge. There’s one thing that Terence Crawford does that kind of worries me a little bit is that when he’s in close, sometimes he pulls away with his hands out leaving himself exposed for a left hook from a little bit too close.
You can’t do that against a guy like Khan who is an Olympian, who has been in there with some top guys in the world without paying the price.
So I’m curious to see if Terence Crawford has fixed that. And I’m curious to see if Khan can make him pay for his mistakes.
Q. How much does a fighter think about doing a big Pay-Per-View like this leading up to the fight, how much does it factor into his psyche?
TIM BRADLEY: His psyche? Well, if you’re real, just put it this way, if you’re real you’ve got to be able to deal with the pressure. But I could tell you this: My first Pay-Per-View, when I fought against the best fighter pound-for-pound, Manny Pacquiao, at the time, I could tell you what Khan’s feeling right now, being the B side of things.
I felt like I was fighting against King Kong. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. Everybody was expecting me to get knocked out against Manny Pacquiao. It was a lot of pressure, man.
I just had to relax, put it that way. I spoke to some of my friends who have been around boxing for a long time. They told me, Tim, just relax.
But the lead-up, in your hotel room, when you step foot on the scale, after that, man, it becomes a reality, man. And it can definitely hinder your performance when you step foot in the ring.
I have to say, another thing is that last week when we saw Lomachenko against Crolla — Crolla can say whatever he wants about not being nervous and not being scared, he didn’t fight that way from the opening bell.
Crolla fought scared. The bright lights got to him. And that can happen. That could very well happen.
But I don’t think it’s going to happen in this fight. Khan’s been here before. He’s been here before. He’s been in big events. I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think he’ll be fine.
Q. Andre, you said Crawford has a willingness to exchange, and this could be one of his emphasis. How can Amir Kahn exploit and capitalize on this?
ANDRE WARD: I think what I said was something to the effect of, Terence Crawford gets overeager at times, or if he gets hit he wants to get the punch back right away. So, instead of Terence in a particular instance showing 2s and 3s or a 3 and a 4, he’ll try to throw a 5 and 6. And on the 5 and 6 punch, he’ll exchange with the guys and he’ll tend to get caught at times.
That could be good and bad. The negative is you get hit. The positive is you were in range to do damage as well.
To sum this fight up in a nutshell, this fight is about the second and third adjustment. The first game plan they might match up evenly in the first round or two. But it’s the second adjustment that Terence is going to make, and the question and the burden and the onus is going to be on Khan — can he keep up, can he make the other adjustments?
And when Terence makes another adjustment, can Amir Khan make that adjustment? That’s where Amir sometimes gets left in the dust in those bigger fights against better competition, is they make the second or third adjustment. He doesn’t realize the process that, yo, this guy is setting me up for a big shot. Amir is going along to get along. He’s being sassed, he’s being what he is, he’s doing what he normally does, using a lot of athleticism, a lot of skill, the things he woke up and came out of the crib with.
But when it comes to digging deep mentally and saying, whoa, this guy is trying to set me up because he wants me to throw that right hand so he can come over the top with a left hook.
That’s what he’s been unable to do. I’m not sure if he can get that at this stage in his career. I know my godfather and my former coach has been working on that. He’s been doing his part on that. But, again, the issue with Amir Khan is not the information. It’s the application. He has the information. He’ll say the right things. He’s been in camp 10 weeks or 12 weeks, whatever it’s been.
I don’t have the entourage anymore. I’m focused. I know how important this fight is. So when the lights come on and the bell rings, and you get past that first adjustment where Terence starts to get out a little bit, what is Amir Kahn going to do?
Q. You mentioned you already met with Khan and Crawford. Anything standing with them looking in their eyes that changes or confirms your outlook for Saturday?
JOE TESSITORE: I’ll just reinforce the one observation I made a few times when we’ve had Bud in these production meetings. But there is a surly, mean streak that grows within him as you get closer to a fight like this, with Bud Crawford. And it was festering already today.
We usually have these production meetings on Friday where it’s very, very pronounced when you’re with him. It was already there today.
The other observation I would have is both guys are physically primed. When we throw, you know, the fit and ready around, they are fit and ready. So they’ve been on weight. So they’re comfortably eating, comfortably hydrating. You’re getting a very good physical version of both guys.
I would also say that Amir Khan as well as Virgil Hunter talked plenty about focus and discipline and attentiveness to what’s happening here. And Amir going so far as saying how much he’s even changed his fightweek norm, that last night that he found himself staying in and watching fights, watching some of his past fights, watching some of his sparring on tape and watching some of Crawford’s old fights. And he said in previous big fightweeks that would not be the case as to how he spent a Wednesday night. It would be family, it would be friends, it would be the gathering of everybody coming into town for the fight
So my personal takeaway is that you’re getting guys who are at their physical prime prepared peak and their mental prime prepared peak. That was my biggest takeaway.
Listen, we sit there, we go deep. I tend to think he’s conversations that we have in production meetings go far more philosophical and reflective than most any sport I do. And when I’m sitting there with Bill Belichick or Sean McVay getting ready to do Monday Night Football, it’s all scheme, all XO, it’s all personnel, it’s all where you are in the prep for the week.
These conversations go far deeper into the psyche, into the essence of somebody’s being. And with both of these guys you’re saying they’re A to A-plus, where they are right now.
ANDRE WARD: Just my takeaway, I’ll start with Amir Khan. You have to give Amir Khan credit because there’s not a lot of fighters that could have gone through what he’s gone through in the boxing ring and also the scrutiny he’s dealt with outside the ring.
And I’m talking about the personal scrutiny he gets, I’m talking about his in-ring performances. And he’s still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. He’s still hopeful. He’s still fighting to make the necessary adjustments in his personal life, as a fighter.
I wasn’t around his training camp. I personally stayed away. I wasn’t around Terence’s camp either. I’m friends with both guys. I wanted to stay neutral as possible.
But I know instinctively that Amir Khan didn’t have an easy camp with his sparring partners. I know he had to fight every single day to keep these guys off of him. And I respect that. And I know that there’s been a disconnect between the information and application, like I said earlier,
but he truly believes he’s going to win. Amir Khan, even in his worst outing, you haven’t seen a guy turn tail and go the other way.
You haven’t seen a guy quit like — if you beat him, if you even stop him, you’re going to do have to do what a Canelo did, what a Danny García did. That’s literally what you’ll have to do to make him stop fighting. And even though stylistically and technically things aren’t perfect all the time and that’s the reason why those things happen, I respect the moxie and the willingness. And Amir Khan has shown more willingness by taking this fight than a lot of champions have shown over the last three or four or five years. And their efforts or lack of efforts to face the other top guys in their division.
Terence Crawford, I don’t mean to inject myself into this — but I see a lot of myself in him when I look at him two days before a fight, a day before a fight.
He’s not a guy that’s just fighting for bills, he’s not just fighting for money. That’s fine. That’s part of it. It’s prize fighting. He comes to get that as well. But he’s fighting for respect.
And when you have that chip on your shoulder, when you have that inclination that you’re not getting what you feel like you’ve rightfully earned, that’s a different type of fuel. That’s like what you saw in Aaron Pryor when he fought Alexis Arguello the first time and even the second time.
Alexis came in as the golden boy and everyone praised him. And Aaron Pryor was the young guy who had done a lot but yet didn’t have the respect. He came from the ghetto of Cincinnati. And it was one thing that set him off. And that really led to Arguello’s demise in that fight, if you watch “Legendary Nights,” is the ring announcer said, “Mr. Arguello” when he announced Alexis, and he just said “Aaron Pryor.”
It was that small thing that 99 percent of the people watching on television, the people inside the stadium would have missed, but because he felt marginalized, because he felt slighted, because he felt like the just due had never really been there even though he earned it, it was that little bit of fuel that caused him to do what he did to Alexis. And that’s the same material that Terence Crawford has inside of him.
Q. For Amir, fighting late in your career as an underdog, what’s going to be the physical/mental mindset to succeed on Saturday? And also in the blog world, people are saying even the best Amir Khan, Amir in his prime, that they would still pick Crawford over him. But is this version of Amir, the veteran that’s hungry to return, is this the best version that has the best chance of winning against Crawford?
TIM BRADLEY: Absolutely. At this point in Amir Khan’s career, when you have won championships, when you have earned the money, like I’ve said before, you need these type of fights to get you up for it, to get you back doing what you used to do.
And he went back with Virgil to get that education to be ready for this fight against Terence Crawford.
I can’t praise Khan enough, just like Dre (Andre Ward) said, his willingness to fight the best fighters in the world all the time is hard, fighting against Danny García, who is undefeated, and Marcos Maidana, and still, Khan passed on a big fight with Kell Brook for millions and millions of dollars to face the pound-for-pound, my number one pound-for-pound fighter in the game, Terence Bud Crawford. So that speaks volumes for a guy like Amir Khan. And what I saw during the fighters meeting, I saw a focused, very determined Amir Khan — kind of changed my outlook on the fight.
This fight I think is going to be a tougher fight than what everybody are saying. I think that Amir understands what he has to do and what he has to be. I think he had great preparation for this fight, after talking with him, after speaking with him.
And I think it’s going to be a very competitive fight very early. He just can’t get caught with the big shots. Amir Khan, I believe, will be in this fight if he doesn’t get caught with the big shot from Crawford.
And as far as Crawford goes, it’s always the same with him. He can destroy. That’s the only thing on his mind right now. It’s fightweek. He’s a very humble guy. But you don’t want to get under Crawford’s skin the week of the fight. One of my colleagues here asked the wrong question or said the wrong thing to him and Crawford snapped off at him and said, “Don’t you disrespect me. Don’t you disrespect me.” And it was just as simple as, hey, this is your first Pay-Per-View fight. And he’s, like, no, no, no. It’s my second.
He’s determined to hold onto his status as one of the top fighters in the game. No other welterweight wants to step up and face Bud Crawford. They keep saying that they’re the best, and Crawford is willing to prove it and to step up in the ring with him.
But these guys, they keep running from him. They don’t want to fight Terence Bud Crawford. So Crawford is fighting Khan now because he is the only one man enough to stand up, to face Bud Crawford. And like I said, I think it’s going to be a great fight. I think everybody’s sleeping on this one.
Q. Tim and Andre, what did you find the toughest thing about making the transition from the ring to being ringside calling the fights and doing commentary?
TIM BRADLEY: For me, the toughest thing was not giving away the fighter. When you break the fighters down, sometimes we can say a little bit too much about the fighter and expose them. That’s been the hardest transition for me.
And also just the flow. The flow alone has been really tough, the commentary, the flow — getting your words together, saying things the right way has been a challenge, very challenging for me.
ANDRE WARD: You mean more like what the actually craft of being an analyst or just personally, like what did you mean exactly?
Q. Craft first but personal observation is welcome.
ANDRE WARD: I’ve had the opportunity throughout the years to do this. I worked at HBO for many, many years, Showtime back in the day. I actually started off with the “World Series of Boxing.” I would fly out to LA. I did it for free just to get the reps in.
But this is a whole other level in terms of the platform. This is a whole other level as far as, like, how many shows I’m actually calling. Like, I would do maybe five shows a year with HBO. This is on a whole other level.
And the quality of the product that ESPN is demanding that we put out, it causes you to have to get better, have to raise the bar. Joe Tessitore, I tell him all the time, I’m just so grateful for just a mentorship. Joe Tess is who he is. We all know who he is and what he’s accomplished and what he’s currently doing.
But he’ll be in the middle of his prep, he’ll stop typing and look over to us and talk to us for however long we need to talk and then he’ll resume his preparation.
So the standard is high. The product should be high. But it’s also a good thing, too, for — I’ll speak for me and I’ll probably venture to speak for Tim, too, tell me if I’m wrong — like, this is good for us, coming from where we came from, the competitiveness, the need to have a mark and try to meet that mark. It’s been good for me, because that same competitiveness, I like to call myself a recovering perfectionist.
ANDRE WARD: But I have moments in here where one thing will be off and they’ll see me just be hypersensitive over it. And Joe will just look at me and say, ha, I got a glimpse of the fighter Andre Ward and what his trainer had to deal with.
That part is good. And then just emotionally I would say it’s good that — I would say that I have some nights where I’m calling a fight, and I’m, like, huh, I’m glad I’m on this side of the ropes and not inside the ring. I don’t want to have to deal with that anymore.
And there’s other nights where I’m, like, man, I wish I was the one walking out from that curtain and I wish I was the fighter they were talking about.
So it’s a process. But it’s a process that all of us — guys who were going to retire at some point — we’ve got to go through this, whether we’re over the hill and retired too late or we retired at the right time.
So I’m embracing it. I’m happy to be a part. But it’s a good thing for me to have a challenge at this point in my life.
TIM BRADLEY: Yeah, this is definitely keeping me out of the ring and returning back. And also, one more thing, it’s hard sometimes not to be a little bit too critical on the fighters coming up and the fighters in the ring.
It’s hard to really find the balance for me, being just kind of, just a little bit too critical on what they’re not doing or what they can improve on. So I’ve got to — I’m still trying to find that balance where I’m giving praise and I’m also being a little bit critical.
Q. Joe, you’ve worked with a lot of athletes turned commentators. Give these gentleman a grade.
JOE TESSITORE: It’s interesting you say that, because this is obviously our first full year of being a broadcast team together in a three-man booth, and I’m just coming off a Monday Night Football season with a three-man booth, which was highly scrutinized as has been a cottage industry off to the side of Monday Night Football, going back to the days of Cosell and Meredith and Gifford.
And in the span of one year I’ve had this experience of “retired hall of famer coming to broadcasting three-man booth in one sport and retired hall of famers coming to broadcast in a three-man booth in another.”
And the greatest difference with Andre and Tim is how comfortable and natural they are meshing and grooving together like the same way they would be sitting on a couch watching a fight. And it happened right away with them. It didn’t have to evolve. It didn’t have to grow.
Yes, as every week goes by there’s refinement and things are smoothed out and the TV acumen and skill set and television IQ fully develops. But, right from the start you’re dealing with two guys who understand how to mesh together, and their boxing brains are so elite and they’re so comfortable that it makes my job really, really easy.
They’re very coachable. They both want to be coached. They both sit back and they broadcast — as I often talk to my analysts, no matter what sport I’m doing — of broadcasting with your eyes up, of just looking, being aware and reacting.
The reason that they’re hired is because they’re two of the foremost experts in the world. They’re two of the best that have ever done it generationally recently. And when they broadcast with their eyes up and see and say and tell us the why and how and the what to look for, they’re excellent, which is what they’ve done.
I sit back oftenand if you listen to our broadcast style as a crew right now, what you often get is I sit back and listen to these two great champions just talk and observe.
And then when it’s necessary I will get in and give you the blow-by-blow or advance the storyline, as was the case with our Lomachenko fight the other day, where we have the great flurry by Lomachenko, the punishment against the ropes, the technical knockdown scored, the confusion, was it a TKO or not? And these guys are smart enough to lay out, let me do my job and get out of the way.
But with how young they are and how hard they work and the positions they now hold in boxing, because the broadcast landscape of the sport drastically changed in the course over the last 12 months. HBO World Championship Boxing is out of business. ESPN Top Rank is in business.
So these seats that had been held by years and years by so many familiar faces from Larry Merchant on through are now held by these two men. And they’re more than worthy of it, and I have a feeling that we’re going to be having this conversation 10 years from now, 15 years from now, 20 years from now, as now multiple generations will go forward as fight fans with Tim and Andre being the voices and the brains and the faces of the sport.
And that’s a very good thing for the sport because they celebrate the athlete. They’re able to be critical. They are able to be analytical.
They give you a reason to watch. Tim is one of the ultimate characters, so joyful, absolutely irreverent, he doesn’t care what he says or how he says it, he’s going to be his natural self.
Andre is so analytical and so smart and so cerebral and has a boxing computer for a brain. And I would tell you what he’s doing now with his ESPN+ work, which is ESPN’s commitment akin to what we have with Kobe Bryant and Alex Rodriguez and Peyton Manning, he’s as good as I’ve seen the sport put forth in my years of being in the sport.
And the more you watch that material, the higher education you have as a fight fan and the more interests you have in watching the fight. I couldn’t be more thrilled with both of these guys.
You want to sincerely grade them out right now, I would tell they’re B pluses to A minuses with, in a sense and a trajectory that undoubtedly will have them as straight A broadcasters for years and years to come.
And I truly believe that. And I’m just honored to be able to work with them at this stage of my career, where I can play a little bit of a role of mentor and lodestar and educate them on television production and be by their side as colleagues and friends.
So that’s a very long answer to say you’re about to see a long run of the two biggest guys who are going to be kicking ass in broadcasting boxing on television for the next 20 years.
Q. Andre, you had a great point about Amir Khan, how fighting is more — he has the information, but it’s more about the implementation. Why do you think that is? For both of you guys, if you want to piggyback that question, why do you think that is?
ANDRE WARD: You can focus outside the ring. Lack of focus outside the ring will lead to a lack of focus inside the ring. You can point to efficiency, in the way you start. You can rope and pull for a lot of different things, but nobody really fully knows what that missing link is.
But it’s clear when there’s a link missing, a wire missing that’s stopping the whole mental functionality that he needs to go from round 1 to round 12, the way he needs to. Doesn’t mean he won’t get hit or dropped or have moments, but it’s not a catastrophe all of a sudden. That’s a lack of focus.
Personally, I know it’s easier said than done, but I actually did it so I can say it. I saw what Canelo was doing before he did it. I knew that was the shot he wanted.
And I could see Amir Khan slowly getting drained by the body shots, by the foot pressure, by Canelo cutting the ring off. Even the shots that Canelo missed took a lot out of Amir because he was able to work so hard to get out of the way, but then he could hear the punch whizzing by his face.
That’s all for us to dream. And then I would see Canelo doing the things he likes to do where he’ll slick a jab out to the side just to get your attention over there as a diversion but the shot he really wants is the right hand.
So I saw it coming, but for whatever reason in that moment, or in those moments, it’s been very, very difficult for Amir Khan to process what’s happening, compute it, and then make the adjustment.
TIM BRADLEY: What he just said, I think it’s a technical flaw in that Amir Khan still has that amateur pedigree, never really escaped it. He throws combinations. He opts in, opts out with combinations. He’s a one-trick pony. He has the speed, he has good punching power in his right hand, but for some apparent reason, he doesn’t have the sense of judging distance. So you see Amir Khan every now and then, there’s knockouts. You see him standing still, coming in, getting out, trying to escape from a shot and gets hit in the process or gets hit while in the process of punching.
And that has a lot to do with how he was taught. As far as discipline goes, staying focused, staying concentrated, that’s just something that you have to practice. You have to practice that in the gym.
That’s the reason why I think going back to Virgil, Virgil Hunter is more cerebral. He’s about the fundamentals and getting into his fighter’s head and controlling them to do what they need to do to win a fight, a round like this.
And that’s the reason why I think Kahn has a really good chance of winning this fight because he’s with Virgil. And if he can just stay focused for every minute of every round, I think he can compete with Terence Crawford with the skill set that he brings and also the hand speed and power.
Q. Both you guys have had signature wins in your careers. Obviously you guys are a first round hall of famers. For Terence Crawford to obviously legitimize himself as number one pound-for-pound, is this fight with Amir Kahn, is this the signature win that you guys think he needs to solidify himself as number one?
ANDRE WARD: I think that both these guys, I think Khan and Crawford needs this fight. The reason why Crawford needs this fight is he needs a marquee name on his resume.
And the fact that Amir Khan was the only that was willing to step up and face him in the welterweight division, you can’t dismiss the fact that Crawford, hey, I’m stepping up, this is what I get. None of these other guys want to fight me. So if it’s Amir Khan, then so be it. But the fact that Khan hasn’t lost in the welterweight division yet, the fact that Khan has a good name, you know, he’s fighting Crawford, I don’t think that — just put it this way, if Crawford doesn’t get rid of Khan, then there’s going to be a lot of people talking.
A lot of people are going to be talking. And probably including yourself, because when you really look at the landscape, when you really look at the landscape of the welterweight division — you know, Danny García, Thurman and Errol Spence — all these guys should, if you match them up with Khan, should knock him out. There’s a lot of pressure on Crawford to get this knockout.
TIM BRADLEY: I already have Terence Crawford at the top of my list, so I don’t think he’s this victory to solidify. In my mind he solidified at least at the moment. But I do think this is good for the naysayers. This is good for the record to have a guy like Amir Khan on the record if he’s successful on Saturday. I think it does a lot for just popularity. There are some Amir Khan fans that if Terence wins will become Terence Crawford fans. And there’s some people who loosely follow the sport that will tune in because they like Amir, they’re hearing a lot about the promotion, and they’ll tune in and become a Terence Crawford fan.
When you’re facing a guy with a big name, even though, like Tim said, Khan hasn’t fought a top welterweight to this point, he still has the name recognition from the Olympics, to everything he’s done as a pro. He still brings the UK with him. He still brings the European market. I think it will do more for his namesake than it will for anything else.
Q. Terence Crawford a while back made a very, very strong claim about black fighters having to be more vociferous or more boisterous to get the recognition. What do you guys think on that? Do you think that he was fair in that statement?
ANDRE WARD: Listen, I’ll say this, and I’ve talked about this in the past, there has been a difference. If you look — it’s not every media outlet. It’s not the order of the day as it pertains to boxing, but there are times, and I’ve experienced it, and studied the sport long before I became a professional, I’ve studied the Floyd Mayweathers and studied certain things in certain fighters throughout the course of their careers.
And obviously I had my own experience when I turned pro. There are moments where smiling and waving and being soft-spoken doesn’t seem to be enough at times for African-American fighters and then you will have fighters who may come from another country who come to the United States, the land of opportunity and maybe they don’t speak English and they’re still learning their English, they get promoted and they get pushed. You don’t always see that with an African-American fighter and some of that has to do — some of that is not on the press. Some of that is not on the media, it’s on African-Americans. Its on, you know when you look at like Floyd Mayweather, Floyd Mayweather was Pretty Boy Floyd for many years. He wasn’t accepted as Pretty Boy Floyd. He didn’t sell Pay-Per-Views as Pretty Boy Floyd. But when he became the villain and became Money Mayweather, then all of a sudden this is a guy we’d love to hate and we’ll tune in to watch him lose. It worked for him.
Personally, me, I wasn’t willing to compromise my beliefs. I wasn’t willing to compromise who I was as a person, and I was — I always fought in my career with the end in sight. I knew — I knew instinctively the day is going to come when I walk away from this sport, and what am I left with? I wasn’t willing to sacrifice being able to go to my kids’ school and be respected.
I wasn’t willing to create some monster that I was going to have to live with when my career was over for the sake of selling a few more Pay-Per-Views and selling a few more seats.
That was my stance on it. So now you have Terence Crawford who kind of feels the same way. He’s a soft-spoken guy, and I think the question he’s asking — that’s not for me to answer — is why don’t I get this? Why don’t I get the respect I deserve or at least to the level in which I feel I deserve it, even though I’m soft-spoken when maybe guys over here get it and they’re soft-spoken.
So yes, I have seen some of this. I’ve spoken about this in the past. But I want to make it clear, it is not for every media outlet. And it’s not for every fan. There are a lot of objective fans. And there are media members who do a great job and they’re objective and race never comes into the equation; it’s just about the fighters and how good they are and what they’ve done and haven’t done, and that’s where it should be and that’s where it should stay.
TIM BRADLEY: I just think it’s funny you say that because Floyd Mayweather got criticism for many years and still is getting criticism because he’s a defensive fighter and people say the style he runs, he’s always running, he’s not entertaining.
But you’ve got a good like Terence Bud Crawford that’s knocking out everybody he gets in the ring with and still not getting the exposure he feels and some people feel that he deserves, rightly deserves. All I can tell you is that all he needs to continue to do is do his job and he can worry about everything else, let somebody else worry about everything else because Terence Crawford continuously delivers and it doesn’t matter who he fights or what he does, he still doesn’t get the recognition that he feels and that I feel as well.
It’s just a process, man. I’ve been in it. When I fought, I fought guys — still my career right now, after my career people try to downplay what I’ve done in the sport of boxing. And I gotta bring it to their attention and tell them like, hey, I’ve done this, I’ve done this, you must have forgotten.
It’s really quick for people to not remember, to forget once you leave the sport, what a person did at their time, at their era. In their generation. So I don’t know what it is, bro. I don’t know why it’s this way, but it is.
ANDRE WARD: And I’ll just add to what Tim said and also add to what I said earlier, the race thing is very tricky. And you have to be very, very sensitive, because you may not be getting credit for a particular fight you won or just in general you may not be getting your just do, and it’s not always race. You have to be very careful. That’s a heavy coat to put on any one person.
That’s a heavy coat to put on a particular writer or a particular website or particular YouTube blogger. If you don’t have real proof that that person is a racist, you have to be very careful to put that kind of thing out there. I personally try to give people the benefit of the doubt.
And I may have a thought about something but it’s not something that I’m going to speak about, because again you’ve got be very careful about that.
But that being said, I stand by what I said earlier throughout the course of my life and how I’ve studied the sport in that particular area about guys, some guys being soft-spoken.
And let me just sum it up this way: There’s a notion that if you don’t do a certain thing, if you’re not Floyd Mayweather-esque, if you’re not throwing money at the camera, you’re not Tim Bradley (laughter), talking about a fighter, building up a fighter, if you’re not doing that and not showing us your house, you’re not showing us your Bentley, if you’re not showing us your jewelry then, you know what, you’re boring; we shouldn’t tune in to watch you.
But then it’s not always the case on the other side. That’s what Terence is saying. I have seen some of that. I can subscribe to some of it. But I will not say that every piece of criticism, every critique, every person that’s not giving you your just due is a racial issue. They just may not like you as a fighter.
And you have to live with that. So it’s a very fine line to walk. And I’ll personally try to be very, very careful about this. Listen, I’ve spoken about this, I’m a biracial kid, like I’m not pro black and people get mad at me when I say that. I don’t have a preference towards people. I prefer everyone. And I love everyone. And if there’s a white person that’s in the wrong, well, that needs to be addressed. If there’s a black person that’s in the wrong, they need to be addressed. So it’s a very fine line — I know it’s uncomfortable for people to talk about, but Terence has some points in what he’s saying, for sure.
Q. How close do you think is Teofimo Lopez to being the same level of Lomachenko? And how good is it for boxing that these young guys are calling out the big guys like Lomachenko?
ANDRE WARD: We don’t know how close he is. This is unscripted. You don’t know until they fight the fight. And this is something that I told Teofimo’s father today in the fighters meeting, I said, I respect what you guys are saying.
And the eagerness to want to face not just another champion but to face arguably the best fighter in the world in Lomachenko. I said but you do know that it’s — I said — I think I prefaced it by saying, phrased it by saying: Do you know the magnitude of what you’re demanding? In other words, I can give you a list of young fighters who took that big step up one fight too soon and they were ruined.
You see some guys like Muhammad Ali when he fought Sonny Liston. He was The Big Bear. He was feared. Everybody thought Ali was going to get killed. And look at Floyd Mayweather and Genaro Hernandez.
You look at those types of fights where they took the leap, people thought they were crazy but they were actually the ones that were right and they were geniuses.
It’s a very fine line between being right and being wrong, but they’re great consequences or there’s great reward if you’re right. We don’t know. He has to fight the fight. I hope he’s seeing what he’s telling everybody he’s seeing. I’m talking about Teofimo’s father.
But it’s not going to be an easy task for him to face Lomachenko. Lomachenko is who he is, and he’s in the discussion as one of the best in the world for a reason. It’s not easy, but I do respect the fact that he’s willing to take that leap. He just better be right about it.
TIM BRADLEY: For me, I like what Teofimo is doing. I like the fact that he wants to challenge the best guys out there. I think it’s too premature.
I think he needs to win a world championship first and then move in position if he wants to fight Loma, then he can fight him.
You have to earn your stripes before you get that praise from me. I see the skill set. He’s very skillful. He’s been in there with memorable competition.
The competition hasn’t been that great. He’s going to get tested Saturday night and see how well he performs. And then from there we’ll make our assessment and go from there. But, like I said, he needs a championship first in order to get a shot at Vasiliy Lomachenko in the near future.