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Crawford says Errol Spence Jr. is good fight for him

Errol Spence Jr John Molina Terence Crawford

By Dan Ambrose: WBA/WBO light welterweight champion Terence Crawford (30-0, 21 KOs) says he would be open to a fight against unbeaten welterweight contender Errol Spence Jr. (21-0, 18 KOs) in the near future. However, Crawford says that he thinks Spence Jr. is going to be moving up in weight to the 154lb division. Spence hasn’t been talking about wanting to move up, so it’s unclear where Crawford got that information from.

Spence plans on fighting IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook in early 2017, and then looking to fight the winner of the Danny Garcia vs. Keith Thurman fight to unify the titles. Spence could potentially finish 2017 in holding three of the four titles at 147. The only belt not in Spence’s possession would be the WBO title held currently by Manny Pacquiao.

“That’s up to Bob Arum, my manager, and my coaches,” said Crawford in which fighter he faces next. “Of course, I would love to fight Pacquiao, but you know it’s a business. If I can’t get Pacquiao, then I want them [the other light welterweight champions].“

When asked if he would like to fight unbeaten Errol Spence at 147, Crawford said, “Of course, he’s at 147. I’m at 140, and he may be moving up. But sure, that would be a good fight.”
One thing that could get in the way of a Spence vs. Crawford, besides Crawford’s manager having other plans for him, would be his promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank. It’s unknown if Arum would want to put Crawford in with Spence, especially if he beats Kell Brook and the winner of the Thurman-Garcia fight.

By beating those guys, Spence will have proven that he’s a force to be reckoned with in the welterweight division. If Crawford moves up in weight to fight Spence, he might find it very difficult to do the things against him that he’d been doing against the less talented guys he’s been facing at 140.

Crawford did not seem too enthusiastic sounding when he was asked by HBO’s Max Kellerman if he would like to fight Spence Jr. in the near future.

“I think Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia are good or very good talents, but Terence Crawford looks to be a great fighter in his prime,” said Kellerman last Saturday night. “So you need to find another great fighter or special talent. [Vasyl] Lomachenko is one to the south [super featherweight], but Lomachenko looks a little too small for Crawford, and I think even by Lomachenko’s admission maybe Crawford is too big. I think Crawford feels the same way. There’s no one else at 140. So you look north, and when I look at the welterweight division, the only talent I see there that that I think is special that has the chance to be great and to compete evenly with a fighter like Crawford is a fighter like Errol Spence. But Spence hasn’t proven it yet. He’s just shown the potential. Crawford has mowed down really good fighters for over a year. None of them have been really competitive. He’s a pound-for-pound elite fighter looking for another guy like that to make a big fight with,” said Kellerman.

Crawford might meet his match if he were to face Spence. If Crawford is to have chance of beating Spence, he would need to move up immediately and face him, because he’s not as young as Spence and he’s going to waste his best years at 140. If Crawford waits too long before moving up to 147, he’ll lose his speed and that’s the only thing that he would have going for him if he moved up in weight. Crawford’s power is not extraordinary compared to the big punchers at 147. It’s Crawford’s speed and movement that would be the only thing keeping him from being knocked out by Spence, Danny Garcia or Keith Thurman. I don’t think Crawford’s speed would be enough for him to beat Spence.

Crawford says he wants to stay at 140 to unify more titles after his 8th round knockout win over challenger John Molina Jr. (29-7, 23 KOs) last Saturday night at the CenturyLink Arena in Omaha, Nebraska.

Crawford dropped Molina in the 8th round of the fight with a sudden flurry of shots that clearly surprised the 33-year-old. After the fight, Crawford made it clear to the HBO Boxing commentator Max Kellerman that he plans on remaining in the light welterweight division in order to unify more of the titles. Crawford doesn’t possess the IBF and WBA belts. Just how long it will take for Crawford to unify all of those belts will depend on how much money his promoters at Top Rank are willing to offer those fighters. Ricky Burns holds the WBA title, and southpaw Julius Indongo holds the IBF belt.

Crawford already beat Burns by a one-sided 12 round decision two years ago in Glasgow, Scotland. It would seem like a mere formality for Crawford to beat Burns a second time. A fight against Indongo shouldn’t be a problem for Top Rank to setup if they’re willing to give his promoters a good offer for the fight. Indongo can punch and has good hand speed though, and he might be a tougher option than anyone that Crawford has faced yet as a pro. The way that Crawford was reacting each time he got hit hard by Molina last night, he might have problems with Indongo’s power. Molina’s shots were snapping Crawford’s head back, and he landing the shots while on the move due to Crawford frequently in motion and not willing to stand and fight.

“Right now, anyone with a title,” said Crawford after his fight against Molina. “I want them belts. Credit to John Molina. He came, he fought, he did everything he could do. I’m just a fighter. I don’t make the fights. I’m just a fighter.”

Crawford will need to try and win all the titles at 140 as soon as possible if he wants to be able to move up to 147 and be a factor in that division. Crawford is about to turn 30, and he’s not as young as some of the harder punchers than him in that division. Unbeaten welterweights Errol Spence Jr. and Keith Thurman are 26 and 27 respectfully, and they’re both heavier than Crawford with arguably more punching power. Thurman also appears faster than Crawford.

That would be a tough fight for Crawford, especially if he waits three or four years for it to happen. You’ve got to figure that Crawford could be tied down trying to win all the 140lb titles for the next two years. That means at the earliest, he probably won’t be ready to move up to welterweight until he’s 31. When Crawford does move up in weight to 147, he likely won’t get a fight against Spence Jr. or Thurman for a while if ever. I wouldn’t be surprised if Crawford doesn’t fight the likes of Spence or Thurman until he’s 33 or 34.

That’s not good, because Crawford’s main asset is his hand and foot speed. Crawford doesn’t have huge power, as we saw last night. He needs to use his speed to throw a lot of shots in a hurry. If Crawford has to stand and fight Thurman and Spence, he likely won’t last too long against those guys, especially against Spence. He’s just a ferocious body puncher, who is very good at hitting guys that move constantly. You can’t run from a body puncher like Spence, because he has long arms, a stabbing jab that the likes to throw to the midsection of his opponents, and he cuts off the ring well. Crawford did a lot of holding against Molina last night, and Molina let him. Spence wouldn’t just give up when being held by Crawford. He would punish Crawford in the clinches and likely hurt him.

Crawford connected on 184 of 419 punches against Molina according to CompuBox. Molina landed 41 of 287 punches for a connect percentage of 14. Molina made the mistake of not using his jab against the constantly moving Crawford. Molina was focusing too much on trying to hit Crawford with power shots, which was impossible for him to do with Crawford running around the ring the entire fight. Molina didn’t have the foot speed or the talent to cut off the ring on Crawford. He should have known that he wouldn’t be able to catch up to Crawford coming into the fight and planned to jab him. You can improve on your ability to cut off the ring during training camp if you work on it, but Molina looked like he hadn’t worked on that aspect of his game. He wasn’t moving nearly quickly enough to catch up to Crawford, and that made the fight really easy for the Omaha, Nebraska native.

“Of course, of course, I showed everything in this fight,” said Crawford in talking about how he feels he earned the 2016 ‘Fighter of the Year’ award for his wins over Molina, Hank Lundy and Viktor Postol.

However, what Crawford showed was not pure excitement unless you like one fighter moving the entire fight and mostly jabbing. It was not the type of performance that would normally earn someone a ‘Fighter of the Year’ award. It’s understandable that Crawford would feel like he should win the honor, because he was the one fighting and not watching the fight. Unfortunately, fighters can’t pick themselves out as the top fighter of the year and just give themselves the award. That job is done by others. Crawford did not make an exciting fight by moving all night long. He did win the fight against a limited fighter in Molina, but the only exciting part of the entire fight was when Crawford scored the knockout in the 8th. The remaining part of the contest was quite hard on the eyes.

Crawford might get a big money fight against Manny Pacquiao in 2017 if their promoter Top Rank promoter Bob Arum can talk Pacquiao into taking on Crawford. It wasn’t the type of performance that Crawford needed to lure Pacquiao into fighting him though. The movement that Crawford used might have Pacquiao less than thrilled as the prospects of having to chase him for 12 rounds.

You have to remember that Pacquiao is about to turn 38 this month. That’s bad news for an aging fighter to have to chase a constantly moving guy like Crawford at his age. It would be the same thing for Crawford if he were the one nearing 40 and he had to fight a mover like himself. I don’t think Crawford would be too excited at taking that fight at nearly 40, especially if it’s not a huge money fight. Crawford already proved recently that he’s not a PPV draw with the 50,000 buys his fight against Viktor Postol brought in last July on HBO PPV.

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