by David P. Greisman
Lightweight contender Terence Crawford could soon be challenging for a world title. The World Boxing Organization has mandated negotiations between him and beltholder Ricky Burns.
They have through the first week of December to come to terms, or else the match will go to purse bid.
That would be a good start to 2014 for Crawford after a very good 2013. He made his HBO debut in March with a decision win over Breidis Prescott, returned to HBO in June to score a technical knockout over Alejandro Sanabria, then appeared on the network for his third time in October, outpointing Andrey Klimov.
The 26-year-old from Omaha, Neb., is now 22-0 with 16 knockouts. He spoke to BoxingScene.com on Nov. 14.
BoxingScene.com: The WBO has mandated that Ricky Burns defend his belt against you. What are your thoughts on getting your first world title shot?
Crawford: “Right now we’re in the process of negotiating and everything. So nothing’s really set in stone right now.”
BoxingScene.com: Sure, but the fact that you could be getting your first title shot, how do you feel about that?
Crawford: “I feel good about it. I feel like it’s a long time of waiting.”
BoxingScene.com: “What do you think of Ricky Burns as a fighter? What does he do well, and what do you think are weaknesses you can exploit?”
Crawford: “I feel he moves well. He throws jabs. He’s got a nice little jab. He’s a decent fighter. I can’t take nothing away from him.”
BoxingScene.com: And what do you feel you can exploit in his game?
Crawford: “A lot. He’s fighting my fight, I feel like. I’m just a better fighter.”
BoxingScene.com: In what ways are you a better fighter?
Crawford: “My speed, my power, my ring generalship, me being able to mix it up in there.”
BoxingScene.com: Would you be willing to travel to Scotland to face him?
Crawford: “Yeah, most definitely. If the price is right, and everything’s fair. I’m just a little skeptical about going all the way out there, and getting the same thing done to me that [Ray] Beltran got done to him.”
BoxingScene.com: What did you think of that Beltran fight?
Crawford: “I thought Beltran won, hands down. I thought there should’ve been no question about who won that fight.”
BoxingScene.com: Did you see Burns’ fight with Jose Gonzalez as well?
Crawford: “Yeah, Gonzalez was winning until he got tired and just quit. I don’t understand that.”
BoxingScene.com: As you’ve seen his past two fights, do you see Burns as being vulnerable, especially coming off a broken jaw?
Crawford: “No. I actually think he will come back hungrier after having two bad performances and trying to make a statement and try to put himself back on top of the list at 135.”
BoxingScene.com: You started the year with HBO debut and have been on three times in total. What has this 2013 been like for you?
Crawford: “It’s been good. 2013 was a good year. I’m just looking forward. That’s the past. I’m looking for 2014 being a great year: becoming champion and start from there.”
BoxingScene.com: What would becoming a world titleholder mean for you?
Crawford: “It would mean everything for me. A lot of people are counting on me and depending on me to bring the title back so that they can have something to cheer for.”
BoxingScene.com: Thinking back to your fight in March with Breidis Prescott, that decision ended up working out for you, taking that bout on short notice and moving up in weight to face him. What was on your mind when that bout was offered to you?
Crawford: “No question came to my mind. The first thing that came to my mind was ‘I can beat him.’ The second thing was, ‘What weight?’ And then the third thing was, ‘Are they going to take the fight?’ ”
BoxingScene.com: It was like a gamble and an investment for you, an opportunity that you had to take, because if you said ‘No,’ you might end up waiting around for a bit.
Crawford: “Right, right, right. That was the whole thing, like, if we didn’t take it, we would’ve still been fighting on undercards. I felt like it was a big risk, big reward type of fight.”
BoxingScene.com: Bob Arum told me before your last fight that he has high expectations for you. What do you want to do with your career?
Crawford: “I want to take my career to the next level, to be on the pound-for-pound list and be one of the all-time greats.”
BoxingScene.com: And do you see yourself staying at 135 for a long time, or eventually moving up?
Crawford: “I eventually see myself moving up to 140, 147.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you walk around at?
Crawford: “Right now I’m at 154.”
BoxingScene.com: What were your thoughts on those who felt like your bout with Andrey Klimov wasn’t as entertaining as it could’ve been?
Crawford: “I look at it like this: There’s fighters that like boxing styles. There’s fighters that go in and get their head beat in and go to the hospital and have brain damage. I look at the sport as being called ‘boxing,’ not ‘fighting.’ It’s an art, and it’s hit and not get hit. That’s what the sport is called.”
BoxingScene.com: At the same time, do you need to make sure that you can do that while still entertaining in your next fight?
Crawford: “Yeah. That fight right there, it was kind of a tough fight. I did everything I felt I had to do to win the fight. But you need to have a guy willing to engage and fight you, and with someone throwing like 15 punches a round, it’s kind of hard to put on a show.”
Pick up a copy of David’s new book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or on Amazon U.K. at http://amzn.to/11mYGZI . Send questions/comments via email at email@example.com