Crawford vs Khan- Khan’s Road to Redemption or Another Reality Check?
By: Rahat Haque
2019 is turning out to be a very good year for boxing. Pacquiao showed he is here to stay after his victory over Broner. Keith Thurman made a comeback after a long layoff against Josesito Lopez, but he has shown enough vulnerability where it may convince some of the other top names in the division to get in the ring with him. After his victory over Ocampo, Errol Spence Jr is once again involved in a mega fight that is actually worth watching where no one is writing off the challenger just yet. Canelo, after fighting GGG twice, had accepted a much easier fight last December against the relatively inexperienced Rocky Fielding. But is once again involved in a legitimate scrap against one of the few tests left for him in Daniel Jacobs. But out of all the great fights that are lined up in 2019, the one to watch out for is Terence Crawford vs Amir Khan. Reason being, Khan never fails to entertain. With his style of boxing, he will always dazzle the opponent with a flurry of punches, but also leave his chin exposed and risk being knocked down or knocked out. Both of these occurrences happen in every Khan fight, where he bedazzles with speed, but also risks getting caught.
After all these years of seeing Khan go into fights with a shaky defense and susceptible chin, it is still frustratingly difficult to count him out. The fast hand speed foot speed combo style is tailor made for winning rounds, which he often does. Only time when he does not bag the rounds, is when he is hit flush with a power shot, leaving him vulnerable for further power shots. In the case of the Canelo fight, one left hook is all it took! But that was in 160. In 140 and 147, Khan usually takes the power shots well, but his legs give out, and he is left trying to grab the opponent or push them out using his forearms.
Before his loss against Danny Garcia, he was never perceived to be as much of a weak chinned opponent as he is now. His loss against Peterson was both close and controversial. No one judged him for that, and he was still one of the biggest names in boxing till then. But it was what happened versus Danny when he became the butt of all jokes. It should be noted that with the exception of the Canelo loss, Khan has not lost a fight till then! For a guy who has become the poster boy of weak chins, one would expect him to suffer another loss by now that was in either 140 or 147. The Canelo fight was a strategic low risk high reward fight. His fight against Crawford is Khan’s first major test since the Danny Garcia fight. A rematch with Danny Garcia, who himself has been taken down from his high horse in recent years with back-to-back losses, is also a future possibility. If victorious, it would be redemption for the former Olympic silver medalist.
But has he bitten off more than he can chew in terms of skills in choosing Terence Crawford? He did so versus Canelo, but that was in terms of weight and perhaps also skill, this is in terms of skill only. Certainly, he will not be able to use weight as an excuse this time as he has had five fights at 147 already, compared to Terence’s two. On the flipside, if victorious, nobody can say Terence was an easy opponent for Khan as they might with the Collazo and Alexander bouts, two of his most notable victorious after the Garcia slip up. This victory would put Khan’s name back in the list of an elite 147 fighters, a division which has improved even further despite Mayweather’s retirement! It can be called boxing’s flagship division, a praise once reserved for the heavyweight division.
In the welterweight division, you have three undefeated big names with outstanding resumes in Keith Thurman, Errol Spence Jr, and Terence Crawford. Then you also have the legendary Manny Pacquiao, and the very game Shawn Porter, who like Khan makes every fight entertaining, not with his hand speed but with his dogged work rate. Then you also have the very game Jessie Vargas, whose only two losses to date have been against Pacquiao and now retired Tim Bradley. Thus a victory in this division would mean everything for Khan. But this is a man who was dropped by Julio Diaz and in more recent times, Sammy Vargas. While the knockdown versus Diaz is understandable, as he is a battle-tested veteran with a style known for generating power, the knockdown he suffered versus Vargas was more questionable. Boxing fans all over the world are wondering, if Sammy Vargas was able to do that to Khan, what will Crawford do to him? It is safe to say that Crawford is more technical and ruthless than Vargas, who is still very much a Canadian name, and has not been tested in the world arena yet. We will get a better picture of how good Vargas really is when he takes on experienced Luiz Collazo in his next fight.
One of the reasons this fight is so exciting is that the stakes are so high for both fighters. Only fighter to knock Khan out at 147 was Garcia, and Terence believes his skills are far superior to the Philly man, so he fancies his chances to knock Khan out clean, or in the same fashion as Garcia where the referee will stop the fight after judging Khan’s inability to continue. But if Terence loses, his value as a fighter will take a hit for sure, and Khan would have laid out a blueprint on how to get the better off the Nebraska native. For Khan, it is his first step to redemption if he wins this one. Though many will argue that the Alexander and Collazo victories were redemption enough, the amount of clowning Khan had to face from media and fans alike after the Garcia bout will be in the back of his mind. He was the favorite in that fight, and perhaps was too overconfident. For Khan, this is the chance to erase all those mistakes he made, both mental and physical. As far he is concerned, he is probably treating this as his pathway to avenge his loss against Garcia. If Khan loses, there is no way Danny’s team will risk rematching someone they beat already. If he wins however, his increased value gives them reasons to rematch him on the self-belief that Danny can replicate his strategy and find success again. The excitement is palpable for this one! It is long wait until April 20th. The tension is rising!
Crawford Won’t Get Spence Until……
By Rich Mancuso
The boxing fan deserve this fight as do Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr.. This is asking the improbable with these obstacles of duel promotions and televised streaming rights. However a fight of this magnitude to unify portions of the welterweight titles and determine the pound-for-pound best is bound to happen.
Because it’s boxing, and the promotional fight has picked up a bit, they have to come to an agreement. Or do they?
But for this to happen there also needs to be unity with the respective promoters and of course the personnel who would be involved with networks and rights to televise this potential mega fight.
Photo Credit: Terence Crawford Twitter Account
And with boxing, a fight like this can be done. Then again it becomes a waiting game of back-and-forth and someone giving in with a late punch in the final round. With Top Rank and the PBC, obviously the main principals to deliver this also falls into the lines of boxing politics.
Boxing politics has never stopped Bob Arum and Top Rank from delivering. When the back-and-forth of politics concludes the fight is delivered. It has to be done and will be because Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. is as huge as Mayweather and Pacquiao was.
Perhaps this is bigger in magnitude because they are two champions, one with Top Rank and the other with the PBC, champions in the welterweight division. This elite division of welterweights that also generates the revenue and interest for boxing is shown in the ratings.
An this past Saturday, Terence Crawford, who could be the top pound-for-pound fighter in the business and Jose Benavidez Jr. established the highest rating boxing telecast on Broadcast and Cable television this year.
So now, it is time to deliver a fight that boxing needs. A fight that the boxing fan will demand. Delivering this fight, according to sources, and that back-and forth talk has commenced.
Moments after Crawford disposed Jose Benavidez Jr. in the final round Saturday night, his first defense of the WBO Welterweight title, Bob Arum was asked the questions. The fight boxing needs will have to wait but how long will it be?
Arum does have the leverage here because Crawford delivers the numbers for ESPN and the Hall of Fame promoter has the platform. Spence Jr. also has the numbers with Showtime and the PBC has that history of also delivering the numbers for the network seen in previous fights Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter opposing Danny Garcia for the Welterweight title.
In line with all of this, Tuesday Bob Arum made his pitch. Showtime, he said will soon be out of boxing just like HBO.
“So I’m predicting also that within the next year Showtime will be exiting from boxing because as great as they’ve been for boxing, they don’t belong,” he said. This was possibly the beginning of a bargaining point of view because Showtime is committed to continue their involvement with boxing, and the PBC continues to thrive with all the rumors to the contrary.
Arum is known to make some outrageous statements. This one, and only because he said Showtime is throwing more money into programming, does offer a line of truth. For the past few years it was HBO that lost the roster of fighters that put the network on top. But putting more of their budget into popular programs did boxing in for the network.
This is the Haves and Have Not of boxing. However, with Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. in the picture, it is about having the best fight for the boxing fan. Showtime and the PBC are moving along and so is Bob Arum and his deal with ESPN.
Just a matter of time and the fight will happen. Arum, in the meantime will go back-and-forth but is looking at other opponents for his champion. Similar to Mayweather and Pacquiao and how long it took, at some point next year this fight will be a reality.
And because this is boxing, it only works this way.
Terence Crawford Answers Critics and Delivers Message with Thrilling Win
By Jake Donovan
On a Saturday where college football saw seven Top 25 teams all suffer shocking upsets—including four in the Top 10—boxing needed to do a lot better than simply go chalk.
As an unbeaten prizefighter whose home base is deep in football country, Terence Crawford had to understand that better than anyone else. It took more than 11 rounds for Nebraska’s one man pro sports franchise to deliver, but in the end Crawford gave the hometown fans in Omaha plenty to cheer about and sports outlets something better to write about than a routine title defense.
An explosive stoppage finish of Jose Benavidez Jr. with 18 seconds to go in their ESPN-televised headliner sent the sold-out crowd at CHI Health Center Omaha into a frenzy, a reaction par for the course whenever Crawford fights at home.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Twitter Account
That it nearly went the full 12-round distance would not have been a good look for the sport’s reigning pound-for-pound king, or for boxing in general.
It was already a rough day in the industry, with the second week of World Boxing Super Series Season Two offering a pair of unwatchable quarterfinal matchups from Russia and with ESPN’s headlining act coming with Crawford as a 33-1 favorite by the opening bell.
Rising featherweight prospect Shakur Stevenson did his part to break from the norm, exploding in a 1st round knockout over a normally durable Viorel Simion, who’d never previously been dropped. It set the stage for Crawford, and for much of the night proved to be a tough act to follow.
Crawford was never in any real danger of losing, although Benavidez Jr.—who’d traded harsh words with the unbeaten champ all week and nearly blows at Friday’s weigh-in—made things far too interesting through the first six rounds. In fact, the unbeaten challenger from Phoenix was ahead one card after five rounds and just one point down on another.
Much of the pre-fight talk around the industry focused less on this matchup and more on when Crawford would start facing welterweights “on the other side of the street” like Errol Spence Jr., Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, and Danny Garcia. To put it mildly, Crawford was expected to blow through Benavidez Jr.—who returned to the sport earlier this year after suffering a gun shot and came in to the bout with his right knee in a supporting brace—and send a message to the wolves starting to circle the corral.
The unbeaten switch-hitter finally began to pull away in the second half of the night, although still failing to manage any better than a solid boxing performance. It’s not enough when you are hailed as the best boxer in the world and defending against a perceived overmatched opponent.
Crawford sensed it as the bout wore on, perhaps never more than when his mother Debra shouted from ringside at the start of round 10 that he needed to end the fight. That moment wouldn’t come for another two rounds, and it even took for the 31-year old to ignore the theme of his corner’s instructions during the one-minute rest period, where he was told to play it safe and leave with the win—but to take his shot if he saw an opening.
The manner in which he fought the rounds suggested that Crawford wasn’t interested in waiting for an opening; he instead punched a hole through the wall.
After missing twice earlier in the round with right uppercuts, it was that very punch which functionally put an end to Benavidez’s brave stand. It produced the lone knockdown of the night, coming with less than a minute to go in the fight, but just enough time for Crawford to register his fight straight stoppage victory.
A flurry along the ropes left the normally elusive Benavidez Jr. out on his feet, leaving referee Celestine Ruiz no choice but to end the fight with 0:18 left on the clock.
Had Benavidez Jr. managed to bob and weave just long enough to hear the final bell, Crawford would’ve cruised to a landslide decision victory. He was up 107-102, 108-101 and an unacceptable 110-99 at the time of the stoppage, but on a night where—by his own admission—he had a hard time early on solving his opponent’s deceptively slick style.
Mind you, it’s not as if decision wins are commonplace for Crawford, who has now scored five straight stoppages and with nine of his 12 career title fights ending inside the distance. But going the full 12 rounds against a largely immobile opponent who’d never lived up to his full career promise wasn’t going to be good enough on this night.
It wasn’t going to be good enough for industry fans who continue to grow frustrated over the politics of the sport depriving the talent-rich welterweight division of the best fights.
It wasn’t going to be good enough in the eyes of the top PBC welterweights who—between lucrative network deals on Showtime and Fox prime—can continue to face each other, and now with former eight-division champ Manny Pacquiao sweetening the pot.
It certainly wasn’t going to be enough to sports fans in a crazed college football town are in dire need of a new hero, as the still winless Nebraska Cornhuskers (0-6) are off to their worst start in their 129-year history.
With that final offensive explosion, Crawford didn’t just do his job but showed off his ability to deviate from the norm. Serving as the hero to so many of those around him means everything, a feeling you can sense whenever he speaks to the outpouring of support he receives at home and every time he climbs the turnbuckle at fight’s end.
On a night when there was so much else to talk about in the sports world—the slew of college Football Top 25 upsets, Major League Baseball playoffs—Terence Crawford found a way in the end to once again keep boxing at the heart of discussion.