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Crawford calls out Pacquiao and Thurman

Felix Diaz Keith Thurman Manny Pacquiao Terence Crawford

By Chris Williams: Top Rank fighter Terence “Bud” Crawford (31-0, 22 KOs) used the shotgun approach last Saturday night in calling out Manny Pacquiao, Keith Thurman and Julius Indongo for his next fight following his 10th round TKO victory over Felix Diaz (19-2, 9 KOs) at Madison Square Garden in New York. Crawford had little problem dispatching the 33-year-old Diaz in a fight that was not competitive, compelling or particularly interesting from the very start.

It was said that Diaz was the best fighter that Top Rank could get for Crawford, which is why it perhaps a hopeless case for him to be calling out bigger names like Pacquiao and Thurman after the fight instead of fighters that his promoters are capable of getting him.

“Pacquiao,” that’s the only fight out there we’re looking for,” said Crawford to HBO Boxing commentator Max Kellerman last Saturday night. “If not, [Julius] Indongo’s here. He came to my fight. Let’s get it on, Indongo, wherever you at, Keith Thurman whoever. Let’ go. I’ll move up and fight anybody,” said Crawford.

Top Rank can probably get Crawford a fight against IBF/WBA light welterweight champion Julius Indongo, who came to the fight. However, Indongo is not a big name and definitely not a big draw in the U.S like Thurman and Pacquiao. Given the track record of fighters that Top Rank has been capable of putting in with Crawford, it would seem highly unlikely that they’ll be able to get Thurman or Pacquiao to fight him.

Thurman is with another promoter, and that’s not likely to ever happen in this lifetime. Crawford said he would move up to fight anybody at 147. The problem is Top Rank can’t fight anybody. You can argue that there are HUGE limitations of whom they can or who they’re willing to match against Crawford.

Top Rank can probably match Crawford against fellow Top Rank fighter Jessie Vargas. That’s an easy fight to put together. But as far as Top Rank matching Crawford against Thurman, Kell Brook, Errol Spence Jr., Shawn Porter or Danny Garcia, those fights might not every happen due to those fighters being on the other side of the fence in fighting for other promotional companies.

Crawford isn’t a huge draw. He’s not a PPV star, and he uses a lot of spoiling tactics like moving, holding and fighting southpaw. He’s not someone that has the fighting style or the fan base to make it worthwhile for other promoters to match their top fighters against Crawford. That’s just the reality.

Crawford probably needs to change the way he fights if he wants to get the promoters from other promotional companies to put their fighters in with him. That means that Crawford will need to stop moving a lot and clinching frequently when his opponents get near him. If you have a top fighter, you’re probably not going to want to match him against a guy that runs around the ring, clinching constantly, and not a PPV attraction.

There are plenty of non-PPV attractions for the other promoters to match their fighters against. They don’t need Crawford, especially if he’s going to hold and run like he did last night. I think Crawford needs to study the boxing master Floyd Mayweather Jr’s past fights and learn how to stand in the pocket, not hold and not run from his opponents.

Mayweather fought stationary for the most part following his win over Carlos Baldomir. Why did Mayweather do that? I think it’s because he was booed by the boxing fans in the Baldomir fight for using movement to evade him all night long. The fans wanted to see Mayweather stand in front of his opponents and actually fight. In Mayweather’s fights after the Baldomir in November 2006, you saw him stand stationary and fight. Mayweather’s next fight after the Baldomir fight was against Oscar De La Hoya in May 2007.

Mayweather stood in front of the bigger De La Hoya and beat him by a close 12 round decision. It could have been more one-sided if Mayweather had used movement, but he wanted to make it exciting for the boxing fans by standing in front of De La Hoya and beating him the old fashioned way. I think Crawford needs to learn how to fight that way too if he wants to make his fights more exciting. That also means that Crawford needs to stop holding all the time whenever his opponent gets in punching range. Crawford did a lot of holding last night against Diaz and is utterly boring to watch.

”Who knows,” said Crawford when asked if he thinks Pacquiao will fight him. ”Hey, that’s not up to me. I’m a fighter. That’s up to my promoter Bob Arum. He has a fighter he’s preparing for right now.”

The 85-year-old Arum is going to likely make a big play to get Pacquiao to fight Crawford. However, I’m not sure what the argument that Arum can make to get Pacquiao to take that fight. He can’t say that Crawford is going to guarantee that Pacquiao gets a HUGE $20 million payday like he used to get during the prime of his boxing career as a PPV star.

Crawford lacks the crossover appeal to make him a huge draw in terms of PPV. There is no huge audience that will fall behind Crawford to make a fight against Pacquiao a huge seller of over 1 million PPV buys. That’s just not reality. If all Arum can do is give Pacquiao a small guaranteed purse for a fight against Crawford and then say that there’s a possibility of him making a lot of money on the PPV upside if the fight brings in over 1 million buys, I don’t think that would be enough for Pacquiao to gamble in taking that fight.

Logically, the odds of Crawford bringing a lot of PPV buys for a fight against Pacquiao is not there. Crawford has fought once on PPV against Viktor Postol and that fight brought in just 50,000 buys on HBO. So if Arum tells Pacquiao that he’ll give him a small guaranteed purse of $5-7 million to fight Crawford, the fight might not even break 400,000 buys. The PPV upside would be pathetic. It wouldn’t be a huge $20 million payday for Pacquiao.

If Arum wants to give Pacquiao $20 million guarantee with the money coming out of his own pocket in hopes of getting him to sign for the Crawford fight, then I can see Pacquiao agreeing to it. That’s the only thing that would make sense if you’re Pacquiao. I don’t think Arum would do that though. I think Arum will take a small gamble by offering a tiny guarantee to Pacquiao for him to agree to the Crawford fight, but not the $20 million.

If you look at it from Pacquiao’s perspective, why would he take a fight against a non-PPV star like Crawford, who he’ll have to chase around the ring and deal with him holding him constantly, and possibly taunting him? For a fighter with the fan base and the things the great things that Pacquiao has achieved during his career, it would be potentially demeaning if he had to deal with being taunted by Crawford all night long like we in last night’s fight with Crawford sticking his tongue out at a beaten Diaz in the later rounds.

Crawford had Diaz beaten and with both of his eyes swollen almost shut. There was no reason for Crawford to constantly taunt him when he was in that state. If Crawford was a HUGE PPV draw, then I could see the possibility of Pacquiao taking that fight if the guaranteed purse was big enough to sign for the fight. Arum is the one that wants to make the Pacquiao-Crawford fight.

Is Arum doing it just for kindness to Crawford or does he have an ulterior motive to try and have him turned into a star by him taking Pacquiao’s scalp? I don’t know. But if the idea is for Arum to try and turn Crawford into the next PPV star for Top Rank, then he might need to put down a huge offer to make it worthwhile for Pacquiao. I think if Arum lets Pacquiao whet his beak on a cool $20 million guarantee with the normal upside percentage that he gets, it’s possible he might take it.

Arum could look at it as an investment. Yeah, the fight might lose a lot of money if Arum gives Pacquiao that kind of sweet cash, but it’s a risk that could pay off for him if the boxing public suddenly decides they see Crawford as a guy that they want to pay to see on a regular basis on HBO PPV or Top Rank PPV. I think that’s going to be the case even if Crawford does beat Pacquiao.

I think it’s too late in the game for Pacquiao to help Crawford become a star by fighting him. If Pacquiao was younger, Crawford might be able to gain a little more fame by beating him, but the casual and hardcore boxing fans clearly know that Pacquiao is nearing 40 and not the same fighter he once was.

It also goes back to Crawford probably needing to change his fighting style if he wants gain fans and become a PPV star. If Crawford beats Pacquiao in an ugly manner like he did last Saturday night against Diaz by holding, running and taunting him for 12 rounds, I don’t think it’ll be an impressive performance to make the boxing public say, ‘I can’t wait to purchase Crawford’s next fight on HBO PPV for $70 to see him fight again. I love to see him clinch a lot, and run around the ring for 12 rounds.’

Crawford needs to make his fighting style more fan-friendly. Crawford doesn’t have to change for him to be a successful. He obviously has proven he can win the way he fights now. But for Crawford to become a crossover star with fans outside of his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska wanting to pay to see him fight, I think Crawford is going to need to change the way he fights to become more exciting. If Crawford could fight like Gennady Golovkin, he would gain a lot more boxing fans.

If Crawford became a slugger and took the high road by being professional and not taunting his opponents like we saw him do against Diaz and Viktor Postol, I think he could become a huge star. But it would still depend on Top Rank being willing to work with other promoters outside of the company to match Crawford against their fighters. Crawford isn’t going to become a star in boxing if all Top Rank is going to do is match him against Pacquiao 5 times or Jessie Vargas 5 times in countless rematches.

Pacquiao is too old to fight Crawford over and over again in Top Rank’s in house fights involving their own fighters. We saw Arum do that a lot with Pacquiao during his career in matching him against many of the same fighters from his Top Rank stable over and over again. Pacquiao fought Juan Manuel Marquez 4 times, Erik Morales 3 times, Tim Bradley 3 times and Marco Antonio Barrera 2 times. That’s a lot of rematches.

Pacquiao is too old now to fight Crawford countless times. Top Rank will need to work with other promoters to give Crawford the top names that he needs to fight for him to become a star. Can Top Rank do this? I have my doubts. I think we’ve seen with the kind of match-making that has been done with Crawford in the last 4 years of the type of guys he’ll be facing in the future. Crawford has eaten a huge period of his career fighting non-stars. I don’t see the match-making for him changing anytime soon.

Here are the fighters Crawford has spent the last 4 years of his career fighting:

– Felix Diaz

– John Molina Jr.

– Viktor Postol

– Hank Lundy

– Dierry Jean

– Thomas Dulorme

– Ray Beltran

– Yurikoris Gamboa

– Ricky Burns

– Andre Klimov

– Alejandro Sanabria

– Briedis Prescott

”I came out southpaw because it’s my ring. It’s because that’s what I wanted to do,” said a very defensive sounding Crawford when asked the simple question why he fought at southpaw against Felix Diaz last Saturday night.

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