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Crawford vs. Molina: Terence needs to impress

John Molina Terence Crawford

By Chris Williams: WBC/WBO light welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford (29-0, 20 KOs) will be defending his two titles in less than two weeks against contender John Molina (29-6, 23 KOs) on HBO Boxing at the CenturyLink Center, in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s really important that the 29-year-old Crawford look good in this fight, because he did not entertain in his last fight in beating WBC 140lb champion Viktor Postol by a 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 118-107, 118-107 and 118-107 last July at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.

While Crawford won the fight by a lopsided decision, he seemed to play it safe in the last four rounds in choosing to box rather than looking to put the 5’11” Postol away by looking for a knockout. Crawford did what he had to do for him to get the victory, but he didn’t put in the type of performance that you would want to see from someone who is trying to become a superstar.

When you want to become a star, you need to do a little bit extra to set yourself apart from all the rest. Look at Crawford’s stable-mate Vasyl Lomachenko. He’s got great boxing skills, and he can win lopsided 12 round decisions every time out. Lomachenko isn’t satisfied with just winning. He wants to get knockouts, so he puts his chin on the line to try and score them. Lomachenko doesn’t let his foot off the accelerator when he’s got someone beat in order to play it safe. Lomachenko looks to finish the job. Crawford needs to do the same thing if he wants to become a PPV attraction.

It doesn’t look like Crawford is going to get a shot at Manny Pacquiao in 2017. Their promoter Bob Arum had been talking about wanting to put Crawford in with Pacquiao. However, Arum is now talking about wanting to match Pacquiao against Lomachenko. That doesn’t mean that Crawford won’t get a shot at Pacquiao before he retires from boxing.

Crawford almost surely will get a fight against Pacquiao, but it likely won’t happen until the very end of his career. In the meantime, Crawford needs to make the best of things by looking as good as he can against the fighters that Arum matches him against. That means he needs to shoot for knockouts and try and look good. Crawford’s in a tough situation. He’s some things going against him when it comes to him getting the bigger fights.

Crawford is a counter puncher, who has a habit of turning southpaw. He’s a slick fighter, and those type of guys aren’t sought out by other outside promoters when it comes to matching their fighters. Further, Crawford’s promoter Bob Arum often keeps his fighters matched against guys from his own Top Rank stable. That means that it’s not likely that Crawford will be able to fight the likes of Adrien Broner, Lamont Peterson, Danny Garcia, Amir Khan or Keith Thurman.

Crawford could potentially get the biggest names to fight him if he were more popular. He’s not though. Crawford is not a PPV attraction. His attempt at fighting on PPV in his last fight against Viktor Postol was arguably a failure with the fight reportedly bringing in only 50,000 buys on HBO PPV. That was bad news. If Crawford-Postol brought in 1 million buys, the top fighters would likely be lining up to fight him, because they would get huge pay days fighting him.

Here are the things Crawford needs to do against Molina that will impress boxing fans:

– Attack Molina at all times. Forget about defense. Just attack Molina in the same way that Matthysse did in his win over him two years ago.

– Sit down on your shots more. The jabbing is nice, but you need to put more power on all of your punches rather than loading up occasionally.

– Be first. Don’t wait until Molina throws punches before you let your hands go. You’ve got to be first.

– Don’t focus on outsmarting Molina. You too much emphasis on trying to be slick and that keeps you from getting knockouts. Stop switching from orthodox to the southpaw stance all the time. Just fight Molina. You don’t see middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin trying to switch stances to confuse his opponents. He’s old school. He just wants to entertain the fans by going out and knocking his opponents out as fast as possible. All the nonsense with switching stances is just a waste of time. Go out and knock Molina out as fast as possible without all the mess in between.

Molina, 33, was selected for the Crawford fight off of his recent 12 round unanimous decision win over Ruslan Provonikov last June. Provodnikov looked like he didn’t really want to be out there against him. I hate not to give Molina credit for his win, but I think he caught Provodnikov at the exact right time in his career to beat him. Had the fight against Provodnikov taken place two years ago, I think Molina would have been destroyed easily. Provodnikov’s 12 round decision lose to Lucas Matthysse last year seems to have taken something out of him. He wasn’t the same guy after that defeat.

Before Molina won that fight, he’d lost three out of his last four fights in losses to Adrien Broner, Humberto Soto and Lucas Matthysse. Those were not fluke defeats for Molina. If you throw Molina back in there with those three guys, I see him losing once again. Molina is a decent fighter, but he’s so flawed that it’s not even funny.

I don’t think Molina rates being ranked #2 by the WBO, #1 WBA and #3 WBC. Molina hasn’t beaten anyone good enough for him to be rated that highly after his three losses in a row to Broner, Soto and Matthysse. If Molina had beaten a relevant fighter like Adrian Granados, Rances Barthelemey, Postol, Frankie Gomez, Lamont Peterson, Felix Diaz or Antonio Orozco, then I could understand him being rated so highly. Molina hasn’t done that though. He’s lost to all the good contenders, and only beaten a shot-looking Provodnikov.

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