Crawford hopes to replace Mayweather and Pacquiao
By Allan Fox: WBO light welterweight champion Terence Crawford (28-0, 20 KOs) is hoping to take a big step forward in his career tonight in his fight against WBC 140lb champion Viktor Postol (28-0, 12 KOs) in their fight on HBO PPV. Crawford sees himself as the replacement for superstars Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the sport. Crawford and Postol will be fighting on HBO pay-per-view from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Crawford is around the same age as both of them when they became huge PPV attractions. Crawford hasn’t shown the same kind of talent that we saw from Pacquiao and Mayweather when they both young at 28. However, it might not matter that Crawford doesn’t have the talent of the guys he replaces at the top of the sport.
There’s an empty spot at the top right now and the boxing public may be willing to accept a lesser fighter like Crawford as the top guy.
“I want this to be the beginning of a long run as boxing’s next pound-for-pound star and a worthy successor to Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr,” said Crawford to ESPN.com.
Crawford doesn’t have the quality opposition at 140 for him to become a replacement for Mayweather and Pacquiao. For Crawford to have a chance of becoming the next superstar in the sport he’ll need to move up in weight to welterweight and he’ll need to beat guys like Keith Thurman, Errol Spence, Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter. This presents a different obstacle for Crawford. His promoter Bob Arum has a habit of matching his fighters only against his own fighters in a boxing club-like way.
If Arum can’t – or won’t – match Crawford against the top fighters with other promoters, then there’s no way that Crawford can become a superstar. He can only go so far by beating the likes of Viktor Postol, Ruslan Provodnikov or WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas. Arum has got to be able to match Crawford against Al Haymon’s fighters Danny Garcia, Errol Spence Jr. and Keith Thurman. Arum can’t isolate his fighters with great wall that separates them and the fighters from other promotional companies. Arum must break his habit of in house matches and start working more with other promoters. The rematches that Arum does with his own fighters needs to stop so that he can build bridges.
Even if Arum does decide to work with Haymon to match Crawford against his fighters, Crawford might not have the talent to beat guys that punch back with the kind of brutal power that Spence, Danny Garcia and Thurman possess. We’ve seen Crawford hurt by lightweight Yuriorkis Gamboa. If he’s able to hurt Crawford, then what will Spence, Thurman, Porter and Garcia do to him? Can Crawford become the replacement for Mayweather and Pacquiao without fighting those guys? I think not. Can Crawford become the next superstar in the sport while losing to those guys? No, I don’t think so.
Trainer Freddie Roach says his fighter Postol will be focusing on throwing punches down the middle against Crawford in their unification fight. Roach wants the taller Postol to use his height and reach to his benefit against the shorter 5’8” Crawford. The best way that Postol, 5’11”, can do that is to throw his punches straight down the middleweight to catch Crawford coming in each time.
If you look at Crawford’s past fights, he’s frequently been fighting shorter guys like the 5’6” Dierry Jean and 5’7” Henry Lundy, who all have given up the little height and reach that they have by throwing looping shots. Postol is a different animal in that he tends to throw straight shots most of the time to use his long reach.
“Stuff down the middle should work,” Roach said via Yahoo Sports in discussing how Postol can catch Crawford when he’s shifting from orthodox to southpaw.
Crawford likes to shift stances constantly in his fights in an effort to throw off his opponents. I’m not sure if really works because most of the time, Crawford is fighting out of the orthodox stance and getting the better of his opponents with his long reach, jab and fast hands. Crawford won’t have the reach advantage tonight against Postol, but he will be the quicker fighter of the two. However, most of Crawford’s success comes when he comes in medium range. He likes to throw his power shots when he’s fairly close to his opponents.
For Crawford to get that close tonight he’s going to be walking into range of a lot of Postol’s shots. Crawford will need to walk through those punches for him to be able to land his own shots. It might not be easy. Postol doesn’t just let his opponents get near him and fire off punches. He likes to tie them up to keep them from throwing. Crawford might find out the hard way that he won’t have a lot of time to get his punches off tonight when he does get in range because Postol will be looking to hold to prevent him from throwing.
“You have to be pretty good to be favored over this guy,” Roach said, nodding toward Postol. “Six-to-one? You’ve got to be really [expletive] good to be that big of a favorite. I mean, wow.”
You have to excuse the oddsmakers for this fight, because they’re not boxing experts obviously. If they knew the sport, then they wouldn’t have installed Lucas Matthysse as a favorite to beat Postol last October. Postol knocked Matthysse out in the 10th round and made a lot of the bettors unhappy. Postol could wind up doing the same thing tonight if he beats the 28-year-old Crawford in a similar fashion. Postol isn’t supposed to win. Indeed, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has been pretty upfront in his desire to match Crawford against Manny Pacquiao next despite the Filipino fighter not expressing any desire to fight him. Postol might make the 84-year-old Arum an unhappy man if he beats Crawford tonight.
“If I’m going to solidify my position as the new face of boxing, it starts by unifying the 140-pound division,” said Crawford. This is a very big fight for me at a very critical time of my career,” Crawford said. “This fight is more meaningful than the Gamboa fight.”
I don’t know if you can call the 28-year-old Crawford the “new face of boxing.” He’s not exactly young at 28, and he’s been around for a while now already. When you think of new face of boxing, you think of younger guys in their early 20s like junior middleweight Erickson Lubin or lightweight Felix Verdejo. Those are the new faces in boxing. Crawford is almost 30-years-old and has been stuck fighting a lot of lesser fighters during his career. His fight against Postol is really the first fight of Crawford’s career where he’s fighting a guy at his very best. Crawford’s win over Yuriorkis Gamboa two years ago came after Gambow was starting to go downhill as a fighter, and no longer staying active with his career.