By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – The welterweight Freddie Roach really wants to see Terence Crawford fight isn’t Manny Pacquiao.
Roach considers Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. the two best boxers in the sport, pound-for-pound. That’s the welterweight fight that truly interests Pacquiao’s trainer, who told BoxingScene.com this week that Crawford is “too big” and “too young” to fight the 39-year-old Filipino legend at this point.
“I would love to see them two in the ring because I’m debating who’s the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world right now,” Roach told BoxingScene.com. “And I think it’s one of those two, and I would love to see that. It’s a really, really good fight. Spence isn’t as popular yet because they haven’t marketed him quite as well as they did the boy from Nebraska, Crawford. Crawford’s a little more popular.”
Spence (22-0, 19 KOs) will make his first defense of the IBF welterweight title against Lamont Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs) on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn (Showtime; 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT). Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) is expected to challenge WBO welterweight champ Jeff Horn (18-0-1, 11 KOs) sometime in April.
Assuming the heavily favored Crawford wins, promoter Bob Arum has stated interest in matching Crawford against Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs). Pacquiao lost a controversial unanimous decision to Horn in their 12-rounder July 2 in Brisbane, Australia, Horn’s hometown.
Roach would rather have Pacquiao move down in weight to battle Vasyl Lomachenko, which would leave Crawford to pursue a highly anticipated fight against Spence.
“One thing about Arum, he wants Manny to fight Crawford at the end and try to make him a big superstar, of course,” Roach said. “But the Errol Spence fight is the fight he really should be after because that’s the biggest fight out there right now. You’ve got two really good amateurs, that had great careers as amateurs. And they’re both killing all the pros out there and doing really, really well. And I expect Spence to become a star on Saturday.”
Roach is in New York because one of the fighters he trains, Iago Kiladze, is set to fight on the Spence-Peterson undercard. Georgia’s Kiladze (26-1, 18 KOs) will oppose Polish heavyweight contender Adam Kownacki (16-0, 13 KOs) in a 10-round fight that’ll be streamed live on Showtime’s YouTube and Facebook pages Saturday night.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.