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Crawford needs win over Diaz to stay in Pacquiao chase

By Jeff Aranow: Terence Crawford cannot afford to lose or look bad against Felix Diaz this Saturday night for him to stay in the running for a fight against Manny Pacquiao. Given that Crawford’s promoter Bob Arum is so eager to make the Pacquiao-Crawford fight, he could probably lose to Diaz and still have a fair chance of getting the fight against the aging Filipino star. But obviously it would make things a lot tougher.

Diaz (19-1, 9 KOs) is the underdog going into the Crawford fight this Saturday night on HBO World Championship Boxing from Madison Square Garden, New York. Diaz, 5’5”, doesn’t have much height or power going for him. What he does have is excellent skills, and the ability to pressure his opponents hard for 12 rounds.

Diaz is a very good brawler. Crawford is only fair at brawling. He’s more of a guy that fights well at a slow and controlled pace where he can paint a Rembrandt type picture with his boxing skills. When things get out of control, Crawford looks ordinary. Like a lot of technical boxers, Crawford isn’t use to out of control brawling. He needs things to be slower for him to do well. If Diaz can the fight into a manic pace, we could see Crawford go down to defeat. If that happens, Crawford can pretty much kiss goodbye any chances of a fight with Pacquiao.

Crawford has some things going against him when it comes to his chances for fighting Pacquiao. They are as follows:

1. Crawford is a counter puncher. A lot of fighters don’t like to fight counter punchers.

2. Crawford switches stances a lot. maybe too much for his own good. If you’re hope is to lure fighters to face you, you don’t help yourself if you get rep of someone that switches stances.

3. Crawford’s lack of a huge fan base outside of Omaha, Nebraska makes him someone that isn’t worth fighting.

4. Crawford’s constant movement in fights makes him not appealing. If a top fighter’s promoter feels that his fighter is going to have to chase someone around the ring for 12 rounds, they might decide that it’s better to face guys that will be there to be hit. Chasing someone also a recipe for a stinker of a fight. In boxing, you want to be involved in exciting fights so that you can increase your popularity.

Pacquiao would have an excuse not to take the fight. Of course, Pacquiao could think of other reasons for not fighting Crawford. There are a lot of perfectly acceptable reasons why Pacquiao wouldn’t want that fight. For starters, Crawford is a slick fighter that switches stances and looks to counter his opponents.

Some boxing fans see Crawford as similar to Floyd Mayweather Jr., but not as fast or as talented. It’s not a great time in Pacquiao’s career for him to be fighting another slick fighter. If the shoe was on the other foot and Crawford was 38 and had lost a few steps, he might not be so eager to be fed to a young lion by his aging promoter.

Crawford might drag his feet if he was almost 40 and being asked to face someone that would have a good chance of beating him. You can argue that Pacquiao has other reasons why he might not want to fight Crawford. There are more popular fighters than Crawford in the 147 pound division. Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman are popular.

Pacquiao would have a better chance against those two because they would try and fight him rather than moving around the ring trying to out-slick him the way Crawford likely would. When you get up there age, I don’t think it’s appealing to get in the ring with a slick fighter. Pacquiao would definitely stand a better chance against Thurman and Danny Garcia if his promoter Bob Arum were willing to make either of those fights for him. That’s the big question. Would Arum be willing to let Pacquiao fight Garcia and Thurman? Arum hasn’t made either of those fights yet. Thurman and Garcia aren’t with Top Rank, Arum’s company. Out of Pacquiao’s last 13 fights, 11 of them have come against Top Rank fighters. If Arum wants to mainly match Pacquiao against his own guys from this point on, then he may not have many options besides Crawford. I don’t think the public interest is there for another Tim Bradley or Jessie Vargas fight for Pacquiao.

“I’m not even speaking about (Manny) Pacquiao,” said Crawford to ”If it happens, it happens. I don’t feel I need Pacquiao to cement my legacy.”

It’s believed by some boxing fans that Crawford needs a big fight against Pacquiao for him to become a PPV attraction. If Crawford can take the 38-year-old Pacquiao’s scalp this year, he could become a more valuable asset to Top Rank by moving to PPV. Right now, Crawford is not a PPV star. We saw that in his fight with Viktor Postol last year. Can Crawford become a PPV guy in the future? We won’t know until he fights the likes of Pacquiao. I have a feeling that a limiting factor that will hold Crawford back from reaching PPV status is the lack of big names in Arum’s Top Rank stable.

There aren’t a lot of guys that Arum can put Crawford in with in his Top Rank stable that can turn him into a star. Without Arum working with outside promoters to match Crawford against them, I think he’s doomed to just being a fairly popular fighter on regular HBO. Arum just signed Olympic star Shakur Stevenson. If he eventually grows into Crawford’s weight class, the two of them could face each other 4 or 5 times like we saw with Pacquiao facing Juan Manuel Marquez over and over again in fighting each other 4 times. They would have fought a 5th and perhaps even a 6th time if not for Marquez deciding he was satisfied with win over Pacquiao from 2012.

Former Top Rank fighter Mikey Garcia is interested in fighting Pacquiao. However, it’s unclear whether he’d be interested in facing Crawford. There’s a world of difference between Crawford’s popularity in the boxing world and Pacquiao. I don’t think there’s an upside for Mikey if he were to move up to 140 o fight Crawford. Mikey Garcia is also interested in fighting Vasyl Lomachenko. That’s another fighter that Arum promotes. If Arum is willing to match Lomachenko against Mikey Garcia, it could give the 2-time Olympic gold medalist the biggest payday of his career. It would be a great fight for Lomachenko. But as far as Crawford goes, I don’t think he’ll get a piece of that action for a fight against Mikey. Crawford might not get Pacquiao or Mikey Garcia.

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