Crawford needs to shine against Jean to stay in Pacquiao sweepstakes
By Chris Williams: WBO light welterweight champ Terence Crawford (26-0, 18 KOs) will be making his first defense of his WBO title on HBO this Saturday night against the very beatable Dierry Jean (29-1, 20 KOs) at CenturyLink Center, in Omaha, Nebraska.
This is a straight up mismatch just like Crawford’s recent fight for the vacant WBO 140lb title against Thomas Dulorme last April in Arlington, Texas. It being a mismatch is kind of what Crawford needs right now because he needs to really shine in order to stay alive in the Manny Pacquiao sweepstakes.
If Crawford struggles and loses or simply looks bad like he did against Raymundo Beltran, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Dulorme, it’s going to make it impossible to attract interest in a Pacquiao-Crawford fight.
I think it’s going to be impossible to attract interest in that fight anyway because it’s not a fight that the boxing public is interested in seeing. I don’t expect a lot of eyeballs will be watching this Saturday’s fight between Crawford and Jean because it’s just such a bad, bad fight on paper.
Boxing fans don’t’ see this as a compelling fight, and there is absolutely no noise about the mismatch in boxing forum’s. If you’re trying to make a case for Crawford fighting Pacquiao, this is not the fight to do it. Top Rank should have matched Crawford against the likes of Viktor Postol, Tim Bradley, Brandon Rios or Ruslan Provodnikov. Those fights would have at least attracted enough attention to cause boxing fans to want to see the fight in large numbers. But Crawford vs. Jean is basically the equivalent of fan repellant in my view. There’s nothing compelling about the fight at all.
Jean has not done anything to deserve the fight other than him being in the same Top Rank stable as Crawford. This is a step down for Crawford from his last fight against Dulorme. The 33-year-old Jean was beaten by Lamont Peterson last year by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision. Jean, 5’6”, was too short and too weak to do much with Peterson other than to take shots like a punching bag.
If Peterson had any power of his own, then he would have scored a knockout in the fight because Jean was there to be knocked out for sure. It’s just that Peterson couldn’t punch his way through a wet paper bag when it came to throwing head shots. He wasn’t going to KO the short 5’6” Jean with just body shots. Jean has won his last four fights since then in beating lightweights Mario Perez, Daniel Ruiz, Carlos Manuel Reyes and Jerry Belmontes.
It’s unclear why Crawford is fighting a lightweight in Dierry Jean rather than an actual light welterweight contender. Were things so bad that Top Rank had to dip into the lightweight division to fight opposition for Crawford to fight? I think not. There were plenty of guys that Crawford could have fought instead of Jean, but then again those fighters would give Crawford a tough fight and he might not have shined.
It’s kind of predictable that Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum is going to be putting him in with Crawford in his next fight in early 2016. If Pacquiao is truly going to be fighting for the last time in February or May of next year, then I see Arum absolutely putting Crawford in with him in hopes that he’ll turn into a star. It’ll be like Pacquiao passing the baton to Crawford, except I don’t see it being a good pass. Crawford doesn’t have the speed, talent, power, charisma or the built in nation of followers to become his instant fans the moment that he fights Pacquiao. That’s the problem. Crawford could beat Pacquiao and still be no more of a star than Tim Bradley is after he beat Pacquiao.
If Crawford was another Gennady Golovkin, then, yes, I think he could have no problems becoming a huge star after a fight against Pacquiao, but he’s clearly not. Crawford is a counter puncher with a fighting style that sometimes is very dull to watch. He’s not going to get a big surge in popularity if he fights and possibly beats Pacquiao.
I see Crawford still being pretty much where he is now. The only thing I see coming from a Pacquiao-Crawford fight is the fight generating low PPV numbers similar to the Pacquiao vs. Chris Algieri fight. Pacquiao would be better off telling Arum ‘No thanks’ if he tries to sell Crawford as his next opponent. Pacquiao would arguably make more money fighting Amir Khan. That’s a fight that would sell. I don’t see it happening though. Like I said, I see Pacquiao agreeing to fight Crawford for his last fight of his career, and the fight doing poorly.