The welterweight division is headed by WBO title Terence Crawford, IBF and WBC champion Errol Spence Jr., WBA titleholder Manny Pacquiao and former champions Danny Garcia, Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter.
The blow in April’s fight with Amir Khan was that Crawford had not faced a household name in the sport of boxing. And that was true.
Han had to be different. He was a former United junior welterweight champion, an Olympian and someone who had competed with Canelo Alvarez and Garcia. It didn’t set the world on fire in the early decades, but Khan’s name was cached because of his earlier accolades.
Crawford went there and nearly threw Khan out in the opening moments before stomping him in the sixth round to retain the WBO welterweight championship. The boxing world was amazed at what Crawford was able to do once again and was optimistic that a marquee bout with one of the top names in the boxing charm would be on the horizon. Crawford didn’t get too excited about the prospect of that happening.
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“Nobody is really going to give me credit because it’s going to say, ‘Ah, Amir Khan is gone, Amir Khan has changed,'” Crawford told Sporting News. “There will always be people who will criticize my performance.
“Sometimes it gets annoying … Sometimes I just brush it off and say that these guys don’t know what everyone is talking about. They all have those certain fighters that follow and that they really put on a high pedestal. They want to give the most glitter that they can possibly look for any reason to break a fighter’s performance when they are not their favorite fighter in any positive sense. “
Crawford’s skepticism about his next battle proved right. Spence beat Porter in September, Pacquiao will not return until 2020, it is unknown when Thurman will play and Garcia faces Ivan Redkach on January 25. That left Crawford in the cold and had to complete a mandatory title defense, Egidijus Kavaliauskas on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
MORE: Crawford vs. Kavaliauskas preview and how to watch
After clearing the 140-pound division and conquering Julius Indongo in August 2017, Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs) defeated Jeff Horn, who defeated Pacquiao, albeit controversially, to win the WBO zone . Jose Benavidez Jr. and Khan are coming to finish in place of this weekend’s match with Kavaliauskas.
How can the guy that some boxers feel is the top pound-for-pound fighter on the planet not be able to secure a fight with the best weight class he has to offer?
One reason is that Crawford are fighting under the banner of Top Rank and Spence, Pacquiao, Porter, Thurman and Garcia are competing for Premier Boxing Champions. Performing significant periods between two different promotional garments can be difficult when dealing with large quantities. Look at how long Pacquaio and Floyd Mayweather Jr. needed to finally score their goals to see who was the best of this generation.
But the former is there with this fight and the rematch with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and linear champion Tyson Fury on February 22. Wilder is tied with PBC and Fury with the top ranking.
Watching the battle to determine who is arguably the best big man in the sport with the opposing promotions working together to make this happen, only Crawford, who is usually mild and at least moving in on the interviews, is more irritated. He says he proves his point about why people running PBC keep him at gunpoint.
“Because I’m a big threat,” Crawford said. “If I were not such a threat and such a big threat to them and to their stable, then they would not do the things they have done now. When you look at Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, there is no problem doing the second fight between them, even if one is from PBC, and the other is from the top rankings. When you look at matches like this, it allows everyone to know what kind of people these guys are. If Wilder and Fury can do so can anyone else fight in the welterweight division and the PBC stable. But they know I am the biggest threat than any of the other fighters in the division. So they want to say this ‘beyond the bulls’ way ‘and that I have’ nothing I can do, all I can do is sit and laugh at all the grief they are pulling and trying to keep me away from these types of fighters. “
The fight boxing friends want to see are Crawford and Spence. Two undefeated fighters in the top ranks of their careers. Whoever wins will be the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the sport. It’s a Spence and Crawford have talked about when they saw each other at events. It seems very simple to tell their respective parties to understand logistics and do so.
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b09ekTrUdpc (/ embed)
Too often in boxing, what a fighter wants doesn’t happen. In Crawford’s case, he feels the burden should not be placed on him for those battles that do not occur.
“It’s a business move for them,” Crawford said. “At the end of the day, they want to keep as much money as possible at home, I don’t hit them for it, but it’s also bad for the sport to have this excuse to say, ‘Oh, it’s across the road, so I don’t we recognize the WBO as a World Championship zone. ”These are just bulls and pure nonsense.
“Listen, I was in the same stall as Manny Pacquiao,” Crawford added. “I’ve been wanting this fight since 2015, and that hasn’t happened. So those fights that don’t happen that the fans want to see, I don’t think there’s too much energy in it because it’s not up to me. The job is to go there and to fight who’s in front of me I want the biggest battles possible If men don’t want to fight, then I can’t get them But it’s not for me Many people talk about me saying, “I don’t want to fight this fighter because you’re not fighting this fighter? ”It’s not for me, it should we struggle a lot to make a fight and it takes two teams to meet and make a great fight happens and if one party is open to the fight and the other is not then the fight is not going to happen. “
The 32-year-old is expected to take care of Kavaliassas with relative ease. He will then enjoy the holidays and start planning his plan for 2020. While the target remains to prove to be the best in the world, the Nebraska native cannot predict that 2020 will be the year that can happen .
“I’m not psychic,” Crawford said. “All I know is that I want these battles.”