Terence Crawford made the hard choice to face David Avanesyan for the sake of getting in at least one fight in 2022. High on the priority list of the unbeaten three-division champion and pound-for-pound entrant is to break the trend of settling for one fight per year.
“I am making it a goal to fight as many times as possible,” Crawford told BoxingScene.com. “I would like to fight two or three times in 2023. I definitely want to be more active as long as I’m healthy.”
Crawford has fought just once in each of the past three years.
The disturbing trend began with a November 2020 fourth-round knockout of former welterweight titlist Kell Brook, his first fight after the pandemic shut down the sport earlier that year and left him out of the ring for eleven months. Crawford (39-0, 30KOs) would then sit out 53 weeks before returning in style when he scored a tenth-round knockout of former two-time welterweight titlist Shawn Porter last November 20 in Las Vegas.
The win over Porter marked Crawford’s final fight with Top Rank after a near ten-year relationship with the promotional powerhouse.
A career-long layoff of 55 weeks preceding Crawford’s emphatic sixth-round knockout of Avanesyan (29-4-1, 17KOs) to successfully defend his WBO welterweight title atop a December 10 BLK Prime Pay-Per-View event in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. The extended break was aided by his months-long negotiation period with WBA/WBC/IBF welterweight champ Errol Spence Jr. (28-0, 22KOs). Talks officially broke off in mid-October, by which point Crawford revealed his plan to instead face Avanesyan in lieu of going all the way into February for a proposed superfight with Spence.
Crawford, 35, enjoyed a healthy rate of activity during his lightweight and junior welterweight championship reigns. He fought three times in a 2014 lightweight championship campaign that was honored by the BWAA as the Fighter of the Year. His move up in weight resulted in seven title fights at 140 in a span of 40 months, ending with his becoming undisputed champion at the weight.
The move to welterweight was met with Crawford’s longest inactive stretch, going ten months between fights before he scored a one-sided, ninth-round knockout of unbeaten WBO titlist Jeff Horn in June 2018. Four months later, Crawford stopped unbeaten Jose Benavidez Jr. in the twelfth and final round of an Omaha homecoming headliner, followed by an April 2019 stoppage win over former 140-pound champ Amir Khan. The unbeaten switch hitter has just four fights in the past 42 months, including back-to-back layoffs of more than a year.
It’s not the trajectory expected from a fighter who barely missed a beat even after a near-fatal shooting earlier in his career more than 14 years ago. But now that’s back in full control of his every move, the idea is for the boxing world to see a lot more of one the sport’s premiere talents who is also a promotional free agent.
“I just have to stay healthy,” noted Crawford. “With what we have going on, I can stay in the ring and stay active as often as we want.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox