by Cliff Rold
There may come a day when WBO welterweight beltholder Terence Crawford can be outboxed.
For now, the boxing world is settled in a place where Crawford is simply boxed out.
No reader here can say they weren’t warned. Saturday night’s ESPN pay-per-view show was buyer beware going in. Amir Khan has always been fragile and the last seven or eight years have been all about selective management.
After consecutive losses to Lamont Peterson and Danny Gacria, the strategy seemed to be all about avoiding anyone with a serious chance to catch him while he pined for a big name fight.
It worked. Khan got pay-per-view showdowns with Saul Alvarez and now Crawford. They were fights he couldn’t win going in. At least in all his other losses, outside a flash blitzing from Breidis Prescott, he’d competed. It wasn’t the case this time. Yes, he got nailed with a low blow but his corner was fine letting that end the fight too.
One has to assume they knew it was already well past checkmate.
Khan wasn’t in Crawford’s league going in and it took all of a round to see the gap between them was even wider than suspected. The problem for Crawford is no one available to him in the division is in his league.
Unfortunately for Crawford, a big chunk of the division isn’t easily available.
Let’s get into it.
The Future for Crawford: The fight everyone wants is Crawford vs. IBF titlist Errol Spence. The most likely next fight for the latter will be unification against WBC beltholder Shawn Porter. If a WBA title clash between Keith Thurman and Manny Pacquiao happens later this year, the winner there would be a logical next for Spence if he beats Porter. Spence can win three of the four major titles in fresh fights fans haven’t seen before. If Thurman faces and defeats Pacquiao, he’ll stand as an undefeated obstacle who, before injury, had emerged as the de facto division leader. Spence-Thurman isn’t a consolation prize or a foregone conclusion. Is it as intriguing as Crawford-Spence? On paper, probably not and that will be the rub for many fans. Their eyes tell them what the best fight is right now. Other just outstanding matches may suffer in comparison, rational or not. So what can Crawford do? The one big name PBC welterweight who doesn’t seem to have a natural dance partner right now might be Danny Garcia, a winner on Fox Saturday night. There is WBO mandatory challenger Egidijus Kavaliauskas and, rated third, former titlist Jessie Vargas. It’s slim pickings and with PBC also holding most of the cards at 154 lbs., Crawford will have to count on his promoter to find a way to move the pieces in his direction.
The Future for Khan: Khan didn’t go out on his back and can try to save face on the basis of the foul that ended the contest. That might be enough to prove conventional thinking true: Khan took the Crawford fight now in part because a big money fight with UK rival Kell Brook would still be there later. Guess what? Khan-Brook would still put butts in seats and receive substantial worldwide attention even after the Crawford loss. Even in defeat, Khan’s immediate money option might be greater than Crawford’s.
Rold Picks 2019: 19-8 (Including pick in Garvia-Granados)
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]