By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – The name Errol Spence Jr. wasn’t mentioned during the final press conference Wednesday for the Terence Crawford-Amir Khan fight.
It wasn’t exactly necessary, either. Crawford was asked by moderator Crystina Poncher about “another guy that really wants to unify [welterweight] titles with you,” which everyone in attendance understood meant was Spence.
Crawford contended he can’t stress out about when he and Spence finally will share a boxing ring. The three-division champion from Omaha, Nebraska, allowed an inability to land what would’ve been a lucrative fight against Manny Pacquiao to bother him once upon a time.
He isn’t about to make that mistake twice.
“Man, listen, I can put pressure, I can put a gun to their head, but still ain’t gonna make them make the fight happen,” Crawford said on a stage at Madison Square Garden. “They’re gonna make the fight happen when they want it to happen. I put pressure on them for years with the Pacquiao fight, and the Pacquiao fight never happened. So, it’s not my job to worry about that. I just have to keep fighting the fights that they put in front of me, and feed my family.”
Bob Arum, Crawford’s promoter, has publicly promised to reach out to Al Haymon, Spence’s adviser, on Monday, assuming Crawford defeats Khan on Saturday night at The Garden. Crawford, 31, is a 16-1 favorite to beat Khan (33-4, 20 KOs), of Bolton, England, in their 12-round fight for Crawford’s WBO welterweight title.
If a long-building bout between Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) and Spence (25-0, 21 KOs), the IBF welterweight champ, is to happen, Arum and Haymon will have to work together on a joint pay-per-view venture. Arum’s company, Top Rank Inc., has a content agreement with ESPN, whereas Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions is contractually committed to FOX and Showtime.
Crawford-Khan will headline a four-fight ESPN Pay-Per-View telecast scheduled to start at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT ($69.95 in HD).
Khan is a huge underdog, but Crawford offered a reminder Wednesday that he could’ve fought Luis Collazo on Saturday night. Crawford nixed Top Rank’s offer to box Brooklyn’s Collazo (39-7, 20 KOs), a former WBA welterweight champ Khan defeated easily in May 2014, because he wanted a more challenging opponent.
“I just want people to respect me for my talent and the skills that I have,” Crawford said, “and the willingness to go in there and fight anybody and everybody that’s available.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.