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Terence Crawford moving up to 147, wants Pacquiao-Horn winner

Image: Terence Crawford moving up to 147, wants Pacquiao-Horn winner

By Chris Williams: Terence Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) is finally making the move up in weight to the 147 lb. division following his 3rd round knockout win over IBF/WBA light welterweight champion Julius “Blue Machine” Indongo (22-1, 11 KOs) last Saturday night at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Crawford knocked Indongo out with a left to the body in the 3rd round. The quick knockout stunned the crowd at the suddenness of the stoppage. It was hard to see the punch that landed because Crawford threw a left to the body when Indongo made the mistake of throwing a long left hand. Indongo had been knocked own in round 2 by a left to the head.

Crawford, 29, says he wants to fight the winner of the November rematch between WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn and Manny Pacquiao. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is hoping that Crawford can get the winner of the Pacquiao-Horn fight. Arum promotes all 3 of them, but he can’t force the Pacquaio vs. Horn winner to face Crawford. They got to want to do it. Arum will need to make it worthwhile for Pacquiao to take the fight, as he can probably make more money fighting Horn for a third time due to all the Australia money. Crawford is not a big name in the States, and fight between him and Pacquiao on PPV would likely be about as successful as Pacquiao’s last PPV venture against Jessie Vargas.

“I’m all for it. When you start boxing when you’re 7 years old, that’s your dream, to become world champion, and after that you want to become something bigger than world champion,” said Crawford via ESPN about him wanting to go after a world title at 147. “You just don’t stop there — you go to the highest level possible. I need that 147-pound belt. That’s my next accomplishment.”

Well, it should be interesting to see if Arum can get Crawford the winner of the Horn vs. Pacquiao 2 fight. If Arum can’t do that, then he’s going to need to have Crawford work his way to a title shot the old fashioned way by having him win some fights at 147 to force Horn or Pacquiao to defend against Crawford. The World Boxing Organization will probably give Crawford a No.1 ranking at 147 immediately without him having to fight for the spot. That’s a given.

If the Horn-Pacquiao winner rejects the Crawford fight, the WBO will almost surely install Crawford as the No.1 challenger for that title and put the Horn v. Pacquiao winner in a position where they’ll either have to fight Crawford or give up the belt. Pacquiao can’t be forced to do anything. He’d likely retire, leaving Crawford to fight for the WBO belt against whoever willing to face him.

“I’m on my way [to welterweight],” said Crawford at the post-fight press conference. “Listen, at the end of the day there is only going to be one name [at welterweight] and that’s going to be Terence Crawford.”

I don’t know if Crawford can become the unified champion at 147 like he did at 140, because there are different promoters involved. Indongo was an easy fight for Top Rank to make for him to win the IBF and WBA titles at 140. Crawford won the WBO belt in beating Ricky Burns, and he captured the WBC belt with a win over Viktor Postol. Those guys aren’t managed by Al Haymon. IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. and WBA/WBC champion Keith “One Time” Thurman are both with Al Haymon. Crawford and Arum are not going to be able to force fights against either of those guys. That’s just the reality.

Crawford can win the WBO belt, but that might be the end of the line for until Spence, Thurman and Haymon show interest in wanting to work with Arum. I have no doubts that Spence and Thurman would be interested in fighting Crawford, but what’s unclear is whether a fight could be put together due to the politics of boxing.

Crawford landed 26 of 75 punches for a connect percentage of 35 percent, according to CompuBox. Indongo connected on 13 of 74 punches for a connect percentage of 18%. The fight was one-sided due to Indongo getting countered so often. Crawford didn’t land a lot of shots in the fight, but he made the punches he did land count. In hindsight, Indongo should have used his jab more and not thrown so many long left hands. Indongo’s power punches were risky, as they left him vulnerable to Crawford’s counter punches. It didn’t take long for Crawford to figure out Indongo’s style and take advantage of his bad habit of throwing left hands from the outside.

”He is getting better every fight,” said Arum about Crawford. ”Usually Terence Crawford spends five rounds feeling out his opponent, but he figured him out right away, and you saw what happened.” Hopefully, we will match Crawford with the winner of the fight,” Arum said.

Arum will have Crawford at ringside for the Pacquiao-Horn fight in Australia. It’s unclear whether the 85-year-old Arum has floated the idea to Pacquiao and Horn that they should fight Crawford or if this is wishful thinking on his part. Pacquiao has not been interested in fighting Crawford in the past. It would be a real buzz kill for Arum if Pacquiao beats Horn, and then rejects the idea of fighting Crawford. Pacquiao might retire. He’s turning 39 in December. That’s pretty old to be still fighting.

If Pacquiao retires, Arum would have a beaten Jeff Horn and a recently beaten Jessie Vargas as his 2 welterweights in his Top Rank stable. Arum would likely match one of those 2 against Crawford for the vacant WBO title if the sanctioning body goes along with that idea. Vargas is ranked #9 by the WBO. Lucas Matthysse is rated #2.

Arum wouldn’t be in full control of the promotion if the WBO forces Crawford to fight Matthysse instead of letting Arum match his own fighter Jessie Vargas against Crawford for the vacant WBO title. Of course, this is all speculation. Pacquiao might lose to Horn, and he would likely be open to the idea of facing Crawford if enough pressure was put on him. I think Horn would make more money fighting someone like Keith Thurman, but it’s doubtful that Arum would try and make that fight. I think Crawford is the guy that he absolutely wants to fight the Horn-Pacquiao winner.

If Crawford stays at 140, he’ll have to make a mandatory defense against one of the many mandatories. Crawford would end up fighting the likes of Amir Imam, Rances Barthelemy, Sergei Lipinetc or Antonio Orozco. None of those are great fights. Crawford would make a lot more money if he can get the winner of the Pacquiao vs. Horn fight. That’s still a big if. I don’t know why the winner of the Pacquiao-Horn fight would be interested in fighting Crawford. They would do better just to keep fighting each other for the time being until the Australian crowd loses interest in seeing.

If Pacquiao beats Horn in the rematch, then they could face each other in a rubber match in Australia, which would do very well. If you insert Crawford into the equation, it likely would mean less money due to Crawford not being a huge star. It’s not a good fight for Horn or Pacquiao.

“He hit me hard to my body. I couldn’t breathe, it hurt so bad. When he hit me that hard, not only did it hurt, it took my mind away. I couldn’t think,” said Indongo about the body shot Crawford hit him with in round 3.

Indongo, 34, was asking for trouble with the way he kept throwing long left hands. He should have done his homework and recognized that he would be open to Crawford’s counter punches by throwing long shots. The way to beat a counter puncher is to jab them, and force them to throw long shots. You don’t make it easy for them by throwing long left hands the way that Indongo was. It’s almost as if Indongo didn’t train probably for the Crawford fight. Plan-A should have been Indongo focusing entirely on his jab. He had the reach advantage, and he could have turned the fight into a tactical one in which Crawford would have had to try and beat him on the outside. Crawford is good with his long range punches, but his specialty is to land counter shots. Indongo could have taken away that ability by just jabbing.

The loss for Indongo isn’t as bad as some boxing fans would think. He’s in a great position to immediately fight for one of the 4 titles that Crawford will soon be vacating. Indongo would have a very good chance of beating the likes of Imam, Bathelemy, Lipinetc or Orozco. Indongo figures to be in the mix for one of those titles unless the sanctioning bodies drop him down to the bottom of the rankings. We saw the International Boxing Federation remove Shawn Porter entirely from their top 15 rankings after he lost his IBF welterweight title to Kell Brook in 2014. It’s hard to predict what a sanctioning body will do in any given situation. The good news for Indongo is there are 4 world titles for him to go after once Crawford vacates. One of the sanctioning bodies might do something odd the way the IBF did by removing Indongo entirely from their rankings, but it’s hard to imagine both the IBF and WBA doing that.

“I’m the only one who can say I am the undisputed champion of the world, and that’s big. There’s nobody else who can say that they are undisputed in their weight division,” said Crawford.

Crawford is the unified light welterweight champion, but that doesn’t translate into him being more popular than the guys that AREN’T unified champions like Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. Crawford is the unified champion, but it doesn’t mean he’s going to be suddenly be hugely popular in the boxing world. There are a lot of things that go into being a popular fighter.

Crawford’s win over the little known Indongo isn’t a big deal, because the casual boxing fans aren’t familiar with that fighter. Moreover, the 140 lb. division is a dead one. There are no popular fighters there, so Crawford’s accomplishment in winning all 4 titles isn’t as big a deal as he thinks it is. If Crawford can do the same thing at 147 and look good in doing so, then you can start saying it’s a big deal, because there are some popular fighters that Crawford would need to beat for him to do that. He would need to beat Keith Thurman and Errol Spence Jr., and those would be tough fights for Crawford. Both of those guys hit harder than Crawford, and they can take body shots well.

Crawford might find himself having to absorb punishment to try and beat those guys. They can jab too. Spence and Thurman understand boxing, and they’re not going to fight a stupid fight like Indongo did. Thurman has better hand speed and better power than Crawford. Spence is bigger, stronger and more rugged than Crawford.

We might find out that Crawford doesn’t have the frame to make the leap to the next division. Crawford rehydrates to close to 160 for his fights at 140. He’s a big guy for that division, which obviously has helped him succeed. But when he moves up to 147, he’ll no longer have the size or the power advantage. Spence, Thurman and Shawn Porter are all heavier and stronger than Crawford. It could end badly for Crawford even if Top Rank can match him against those non-Top Rank fighters.

I honestly do not see Crawford ever fighting any of those guys. He never fought Adrien Broner and Danny Garcia and those are non-Top Rank fighters. Crawford has been fighting as a pro for 9 years, and he never got fights against Broner or Garcia. My guess is Crawford can fight for another 10 years and he’ll never get fights against Spence, Thurman, Garcia or Porter. That’s the politics of boxing. Like Pacquiao and Tim Bradley, Crawford is on the other side of the tracks with him being with Top Rank and Thurman, Spence, Garcia and Porter being with different management.

Pacquiao never fought any of those guys. Arum has never shown much interest in matching Pacquiao against those fighters. Arum might be interested in matching Crawford against those guys now, because he needs to fight those guys for him to become popular and be turned into a PPV star. He can’t just fight Top Rank guys, because the stable is too small. The boxing fans will tire quickly if Arum sticks Crawford in with Jeff Horn 3 to 4 times. Crawford would need new blood for him to become a star, and I don’t think that’s going to happen unless Arum can do business with Haymon so that the unification fights can be made.

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