By Keith Idec
Two months before attempting to become a three-division champion, Terence Crawford will put his basketball skills to the test.
The NBA has announced Crawford will be part of Team Lakers, which will play Team Clippers as part of the league’s annual all-star weekend February 16 in Los Angeles. ESPN will televise the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game at 7 p.m. ET from Verizon Up Arena at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Crawford’s inclusion in the game is a byproduct of the synergy between ESPN and Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., Crawford’s promoter. Top Rank’s fights are exclusively televised by ESPN as part of a four-year agreement reached last year.
Crawford, an avid basketball player who often jokes about beating fellow fighters in one-on-one games, will be part of a team that also includes actor/comedian Nick Cannon, actor Jerry Ferrara, NBA Hall-of-Famer Tracy McGrady and former NBA slam-dunk champion Nate Robinson. The Clippers’ squad features actors Anthony Anderson, Common and Jamie Foxx, as well as retired NBA star Paul Pierce and golfer Bubba Watson.
The appearance in this event is a chance for Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) to expand his brand before facing Australia’s Jeff Horn (18-0-1, 11 KOs) in an ESPN pay-per-view fight April 14 at Madison Square Garden. The 30-year-old Crawford – widely viewed as one of best boxers, pound-for-pound, in the sport – is the mandatory challenger for Horn’s WBO welterweight title.
Last year, the Omaha, Nebraska, native became boxing’s first fully unified champion in any division since Jermain Taylor owned the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO middleweight titles in 2005.
Crawford knocked out Namibia’s Julius Indongo (22-1, 11 KOs) in the third round August 19 in Lincoln, Nebraska, to add Indongo’s IBF and WBA 140-pound championships to his WBC and WBO crowns. He gave up those four titles when he decided to move up from 140 pounds to 147.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.