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Terence Crawford and Dierry Jean make weight

By Chris Williams: WBO light welterweight champion Terence Crawford (26-0, 18 KOs) and his opponent Dierry Jean (29-1, 20 KOs), from the lightweight division, both made weight on Friday for their fight this Saturday night at the CenturyLink Center, in Omaha, Nebraska. Both Crawford and Jean came in at 140lbs.


For Jean, you would think that he would come in lighter because he was picked out from the lightweight division for this fight rather than from the light welterweight division. This isn’t Danny Garcia vs. Rod Salka, but it’s close to being that much of a mismatch.

Supposedly, Crawford needs a victory and he needs to look good for him to get the fight against Manny Pacquiao in early 2016, but that may not be. Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum is interested in matching Crawford against Pacquiao, and that might be enough.

We’ve seen Arum match guys coming off of a loss with Pacquiao in the past, and I think he’ll do the same thing with Crawford. He’s obviously not going to lose to a limited fighter like Dierry Jean, but I don’t think Crawford needs to look good or even win in order to get the Pacquiao fight. Just being in Arum’s Top Rank stable will likely be enough for Crawford to get the Pacquiao fight.

When does the fight start? 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. ET

Where to watch? HBO

Where does it take place? CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Nebraska

Crawford, 28, hasn’t fought a good opponent since he clinched his way to a boring 12 round decision over Raymundo Beltran last year in November 2014 in Omaha, Nebraska. Crawford messed up what would have been a good fight by holding all night long. Before that, Crawford struggled to defeat Yuriorkis Gamboa in June of 2014.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFsIiyiFaVE

That was a fight in which Crawford was struggling badly until Gamboa slipped on the canvas in the 5th, and Crawford scored a knockdown. Gamboa then lost his composure from the knockdown and started to just swing wildly instead of keeping his head.

Crawford did not look good in that fight. He also didn’t look good in his recent fight against Thomas Dulorme last April in a fight for the vacant WBO 140lb title. Crawford won the fight by a 6th round knockout, but Dulorme gave him problems with his superior hand speed and punching power. What Dulorme didn’t have in that fight was the punch resistance needed for him to take Crawford’s big shots.

“Dierry Jean is a good fighter. I am not overlooking him,” Crawford said via ESPN.com. “There is a lot at stake for both of us. One of the secrets to my success has been to never look past an opponent or train less than 110 percent for a fight. It’s all about focus and keeping the blinders on. If you don’t respect the talents of the man in the opposite corner then you’re asking for trouble.”

There’s not a whole lot at stake for Jean in terms of a big fight against Pacquiao like there is with Crawford. There’s no way that promoter Bob Arum is going to let Dierry Jean get a big money fight against Pacquiao if he beats Crawford, because Jean isn’t unbeaten, he’s not heavily hyped, and he’s not seen as someone that is going to have a great future. Jean was already easily beaten by Lamont Peterson last year. If that’s not an indication that Jean is a limited fighter than I don’t know what is.

Crawford is the one with the potential to get the Pacquiao fight, and he really needs the fight badly because at 28, he doesn’t seem to be growing in popularity despite his recent wins and him being voted the 2014 Fighter of the Year. Crawford beat some obscure fighters, and not superstars. Being voted the Fighter of the Year is all well and good, but that was from the Boxing writers Association and not by the actual fans of the sport.

Crawford still hasn’t been able to win a lot of fans outside of his home in Nebraska. He can be voted Fighter of the Year every year for the next 10 years, and I don’t see him becoming a popular fighter with the casual boxing fans. His fighting style is all wrong, and he’s not fighting the interesting opponents. I hate to break this to Arum, but Crawford is not going to become a star fighting guys like Dierry Jean, Beltran, Ricky Burns and Yuriorkis Gamboa. Crawford needs to fight Pacquiao, Tim Bradley, Brandon Rios, and he needs most of all to start fighting guys outside of Arum’s Top Rank stable, because he just doesn’t have enough talented fighters in his stable to do much with Crawford.

At this point, I doubt that Crawford will ever become as popular as Brandon Rios. There’s no support for Crawford, and I don’t think it will matter if he beats Pacquiao. If he beats Pacquiao, then Crawford will likely be another Bradley in terms of popularity.

Pacquiao is tentatively scheduled to fight on April 9th next year, but that could change depending on how his surgically repaired right shoulder responds to training camp. I’m not sure what’s magical about that date, but Arum must see some value in fighting on that date for him to want him to fight them.

“Manny, frankly, would welcome fighting at 140 pounds again. The weight is not even an issue,” Arum said to ESPN.com. “It could be a passing-of-the-torch kind of fight, but it would be a very tough fight for Crawford. There are some people in the company (Top Rank) who feel Manny would be a big favorite to beat him. But, in any event, there’s no downside for Crawford because he’s going to get enormous publicity. He won’t disgrace himself even if he lost and he will make a lot of money.”

Arum probably wishes that it would be a passing of the torch type of fight for Pacquiao to pass it to Crawford so that he could take over as his next pay-per-view star, but I don’t see that happening. I don’t think that Crawford will ever become a PPV attraction, ever. There won’t be any passing of the torch between those two fighters. Crawford might be able to put Pacquiao out of his misery, but that’s not saying much right now because Pacquiao didn’t look good in his last fight against Mayweather.

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