Terence Crawford emphatically answered any lingering doubts over his capabilities at 147lbs, following his fourth round destruction of Kell Brook in Las Vegas last Saturday.
Brook, a former IBF world champion, was expected to pose Crawford his toughest test at welterweight to date following four prior victories, including over Brook’s British rival Amir Khan.
However, after a slow start and a switch to the southpaw stance, ‘Bud’ overpowered the ‘Special One’, connecting with a right hand which sent Brook spiralling into the ropes, for which he was given a standing eight count.
This only delayed the inevitable as ‘Bud,’ a notorious finisher, piled in a number of devastating combinations, which went unanswered forcing referee Tony Weeks to intervene, as the 33-year-old stormed to a fourth successful defence of his WBO crown.
As with all elite athletes, the expectancy and pressure is elevated and the same goes with Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs), who in some circles beat an ‘over the hill’ Brook.
Granted, the 34-year-old is not the same man that went toe-to-toe with Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence Jr, but it was up to the Nebraska man to prove that and the doubters including Brook wrong, who had boldly vowed to halt his foe or make him quit on his stool on fight week.
Such is the demand for a superfight even from Crawford himself, that he’ll not truly receive the credit he may feel is just following such an explosive display, but victory over an established, former world champion has sent a firm warning to the rest of the division of his intentions and status as arguably pound-for-pound number one.
Crawford has plenty of options on paper to face, but a now much-publicised rift between him and his promotional team, Top Rank, which emerged on fight week, as first reported by The Athletic is proving an ongoing issue.
‘Bud’ is reportedly unhappy over not securing a showdown with unified world champion, Errol Spence Jr or WBA title holder Manny Pacquiao, with the WBO champion revealing on a Zoom media call that Brook was never a target, until he was unable to face Pacquaio due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
His deal with Top Rank reportedly runs until October 2021 and any possibility of a renewal is completely unknown at this stage, however a key stumbling block remains that a number of the top 147 pounders are with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions stable, including Spence, Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman, making deals difficult to negotiate.
Despite the lingering uncertainty, Crawford is hopeful of pinning down a marquee name for a spring return and here are some possible options, providing politics to do intervene:
As mentioned, the pair were in talks for a unification prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and it seems like this option will be revisited for Spring 2021 in the Middle East, even though the Filipino great is also under the PBC banner.
The eight-weight world champion had his best nights under Bob Arum’s stewardship, before departing Top Rank following his seventh round knockout of Lucas Matthysse in 2018.
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‘Pacman’ remains Crawford’s number one target and the Filipino legend appears to be on board, stating to Daily Tribune Phillipines: “I am willing [to fight] anytime, no problem.”
It remains to be seen if the 41-year-old is prepared to take on Crawford, who is clearly in his prime and unrelenting, after what would be a career-longest lay-off, since taking a split decision against Keith Thurman in July 2019.
Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs), a now Filipino Senator rolled back the years in the early stages against the American, knocking him down in the first round on route to claiming the WBA ‘Super’ Welterweight crown.
Although, reports have emerged of a possible clash between Pacquiao and Mikey Garcia, who was soundly beaten by Errol Spence Jr, but returned to 147lbs to overcome Jessie Vargas in February.
Errol Spence Jr-Danny Garcia winner
A showdown between Crawford and Spence Jr (26-0, 21 KOs) is the fight to make and one of the most lucrative fights in world boxing outside of a heavyweight unification between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury.
Just like Crawford, Spence is regarded as one of the most complete fighters in the sport and the natural 147 pounder, having competed there for the best part of his career.
‘The Truth’ claimed a thrilling split decision victory over Shawn Porter in September 2019 to become unified IBF and WBC champion, however an almost fatal car crash in November 2019, left his career in tatters and in truth he remains fortunate to be alive.
Fortunately, the 30-year-old appears to have made a full recovery and has his work cut out in his first assignment since the accident against former two-weight world champion, Danny Garcia on December 5 in Texas, whose only losses come to Thurman and Porter.
The victor of the fight will again have arguably proved themselves as the standout man in the division and success for Spence will not only add another top contender to his résumé, but will prove that he is still able to compete at the elite level, with question marks surrounding how he will adjust following the accident.
Garcia (36-2, 21 KOs) will also merit a colossal three-belt meeting with Crawford and a bout may prove easier to make after reports on Thursday suggested that Spence would only agree to a fight with his rival if he is handed a majority of the purse at 60-40 in his favour, to which Crawford ruled out.
Crawford and Spence both want a 60-40 split, but only in their favor 💰 pic.twitter.com/qgPvwqZ67U
— ESPN Ringside (@ESPNRingside) November 20, 2020
If Crawford is unable to face Pacquiao or the winner of Spence vs Garcia then a meeting with two-time welterweight world champion, Shawn Porter seems like an enticing proposition.
Porter (31-3-1, 17 KOs) was narrowly beaten in a fight of the year contender against Spence, forcing his compatriot into deep waters, although an 11th round knockdown proved crucial, with ’The Truth’ prevailing to become unified champion.
‘Showtime’ has already stated on record his willingness to face Crawford and his record backs up that request, having faced both Garcia and Thurman, as well as Brook who ripped away the IBF crown from his grasp in 2014.
Porter, who scored a routine win over Sebastian Fomella in August, has fought the better calibre of opponent at 147lbs and his relentless, all-action style means he is never a simple puzzle to figure out and the 33-year-old believes his approach could cause ‘Bud’ problems, particularly early on where the Nebraskan is typically a slow starter.
“It’s no secret that with me, I’m a fast starter,” Porter told FightHype.com
“I don’t like to get in there and feel it out. The way that I figure out what a guy wants to do and what I can do is by basically making him react.
“Making him react, making him react, and making him react. I think that’s one of the things that will work for me against Terence Crawford. You’re not going to get a feel out round.
“You better come to the ring and know whether you’re fighting southpaw or orthodox. I’m telling you right now because if you think you’re going to want to figure it out, I’m not giving you time to say, ‘Let me see how this works.’”
If Crawford overcame Porter in impressive fashion he would go into any unification with not only more experience at the weight, but also a considerably larger fear factor to his name, having beaten another world class welterweight.
Keith Thurman would also represent another stiff test for Crawford.
‘One Time’ remains a big draw in the division and defeat to Pacquiao remains the only blemish of a 30-fight career.
The 31-year-old was at one stage considered as the man to beat on his way up, but Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) has been plagued with injuries over the years, following his win over Garcia in 2017.
Thurman also saw off Porter in 2016 and more than proved his own in his loss to ‘Pacman,’ climbing off the canvas in the opening round to go the distance, landing 79 more power punches, according to CompuBox statistics.
Another aggressive fighter, Thurman is accurate and powerful and would pile the pressure on Crawford, although it would be intriguing to see if he could figure out ‘Bud’ with his best victories coming against orthodox operators.
All of these potential showdowns have all the ingredients to be barnstormers and secure the legacy of a fighter who promoter Bob Arum believes could have competed in the era of the great Thomas Hearns and the ilk.
These tests would certainly prove that conviction and keep ‘Bud’ on course to become the first undisputed champion in two weight classes since the introduction of the four-belt era.
Let us know below who ‘Bud’ Crawford should face next: