NEW YORK – Bob Arum introduced Terence Crawford on Wednesday the same way he glorifies Vasiliy Lomachenko.
“Terence is worth the price of admission by himself,” Arum said during a press conference at Madison Square Garden. “He is, pound-for-pound, the best fighter in the world.”
Countless boxing fans agree with Arum’s assessment, whereas others argue Lomachenko actually is the sport’s top fighter, pound-for-pound. More recently, Canelo Alvarez has gained traction on those subjective lists because he moved up two weight classes and knocked out Sergey Kovalev to win the WBO light heavyweight title.
Crawford doesn’t believe Lomachenko or Alvarez has done enough to surpass him as the top boxer, pound-for-pound, in the sport. The 32-year-old Crawford discussed the ever-raging, pound-for-pound debate before the aforementioned press conference Wednesday to promote his fight Saturday night against Egidjius Kavaliauskas at The Garden.
“I don’t believe neither one of those guys passed me at this point in time,” Crawford said. “That’s just my personal opinion. Kovalev’s been stopped before, so [Alvarez] didn’t do nothing to Kovalev that wasn’t already done. You know, that’s just how I look it.”
Alvarez viciously knocked Kovalev unconscious in the 11th round of what had been a competitive encounter November 2 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
That technically made Alvarez a four-division champion.
The Mexican icon’s critics contest his status as a super middleweight champion because he knocked out Rocky Fielding nearly a year ago at The Garden to win the WBA’s world 168-pound championship. Callum Smith, who stopped Fielding in the first round of their fight three years earlier, is the WBA’s true super middleweight champion.
Nevertheless, the 29-year-old Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) has beaten Gennadiy Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs and Kovalev in three of his past four fights. He has two controversial decisions on his record – a split draw with Golovkin and a split-decision defeat of Erislandy Lara – but Alvarez only has lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr., the best boxer of this generation.
BoxingScene.com moved Alvarez into the No. 2 spot on its most recent pound-for-pound list. Crawford was moved down to No. 4, one spot below Lomachenko and three spots beneath Naoya Inoue, who’s now No. 1 on BoxingScene.com’s list.
ESPN.com ranks Lomachenko at No. 1, Crawford at No. 2, Alvarez at No. 3 and Inoue at No. 4. The Ring magazine elevated Alvarez into its top spot, ahead of the second-ranked Lomachenko, third-rated Inoue and the fourth-ranked Crawford.
The Ring, the self-professed “Bible of Boxing,” is owned by Golden Boy Promotions, which represents Alvarez.
Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs) is far from consumed with where he is ranked on those lists.
“I don’t really too much put any thought [into] it,” Crawford said. “At the end of the day, like I always say, it’s an opinion. Everybody have an opinion – who they think’s number one or who they feel is number one or who they feel deserves to be number one. You know, and that’s never gonna change. But me losing any sleep over me not being number one, that’s not gonna happen.”
Crawford’s detractors point to the Omaha, Nebraska, native’s level of opposition in his recent years as a primary reason to rank Alvarez, Lomachenko or Inoue ahead of the three-division champion. Since stopping Julius Indongo in August 2017 to fully unify boxing’s 140-pound championships, Crawford has stopped Jeff Horn, Jose Benavidez Jr. and Amir Khan in his three welterweight fights.
Defeating Lithuania’s Kavaliauskas, his mandatory challenger, won’t do much to change Crawford’s competition conundrum. Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KOs) settled for a 10-round majority draw with Ray Robinson (24-3-2, 12 KOs) in his last fight, March 30 in Robinson’s hometown of Philadelphia.
“I’m always looking to go out there and put on a great performance,” Crawford said, “and show the world why I feel like I’m number one, pound-for-pound, over any other fighter.”
Teofimo Lopez, who’s toughest fight to date will unfold immediately before Crawford-Kavaliauskas, doesn’t think Crawford needs to do anything else to solidify his place in the top spot on pound-for-pound lists. Lopez (14-0, 11 KOs) has every reason to label Lomachenko the best boxer in the sport because if Lopez beats Richard Commey (29-2, 26 KOs) to win the IBF lightweight title, he likely will battle Lomachenko in his subsequent bout, a lightweight title unification fight.
The 31-year-old Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) has won 13 straight fights since Orlando Salido defeated him by split decision in Lomachenko’s second pro bout in March 2014. The Ukrainian southpaw has beaten former champions Jorge Linares, Jose Pedraza and Anthony Crolla, as well as Luke Campbell, since moving up to the lightweight limit of 135 pounds.
“I believe he’s faced better opposition,” Lopez said in reference to Crawford. “He’s done what he has done. He’s unified. He’s been undisputed at 140. I mean, his credentials show right there, alone. You know, and he’s trying to face the toughest opponents out there. Everybody wants to see the Errol Spence and Terence Crawford fight. Hopefully that could happen in 2020. I know you guys wanna see the Lopez versus Loma fight. So, 2020, I mean, I hope you guys get that treat, you get many fights. I wanna make fights like that happen. Sh*t, it gets me excited because it makes you guys excited.”
A Crawford-Spence showdown is on hold while Spence recovers from injuries suffered in a one-car accident October 10 in downtown Dallas. Arum mentioned to BoxingScene.com this week that Crawford could fight Shawn Porter next.
Spence edged Porter by split decision in an all-action, 12-round, 147-pound title unification fight September 28 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The 22-year-old Lopez realizes he has much more to prove to approach Crawford’s status.
“Pound for pound, whatever the fight fans wanna rank me and whatever the stats or however they wanna rank me, thank you and whatever,” Lopez replied when asked where he’d rank if he defeated Commey and Lomachenko in back-to-back bouts. “I don’t even – is it a nice thing or a nice gesture or whatever? Yeah, sure. But my main thing is just trying to be the best at what I do. Whether they put me as the pound-for-pound or not, I can care less. I mean, it’s no disrespect to the pound-for-pound list. You know, you have hell of a fighters on that list. I mean, just to be in the top 10, that’s something. But for me, Crawford, he’s paved the way. Being undisputed and all that is not an easy task. I mean, he faced tough dudes to get to that part. You know what I mean? And the same, I will take that route as well.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.