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Jeff Horn faces Terence Crawford on April.14 at MSG, NY

Terence Crawford

By Chris Williams: Jeff ‘The Hornet’ Horn (18-0-1, 12 KOs) will be defending his WBO welterweight title against American Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) on April 14 on ESPN at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Horn’s best chance of beating the slender Crawford is to force him to brawl by chasing him and throwing sustained combinations. Crawford, 30, likes to fight in a slow, methodical manner, and he doesn’t do well when his opponents force him into exchanges. Horn will lose badly if he lets Crawford peck away at him with his single pot shots all night long.

To beat the switch-hitting counter puncher Crawford, you have to make it messy by forcing him to lose his composure and form by throwing combinations and pressuring him like mad. Even if Horn loses the fight, he’ll end up looking good for using the Golovkin-like pressure, and he’ll expose Crawford as a boring runner.

Crawford looked very bad in running from Victor Postol in their fight 2 years ago. Crawford does not like to be pressured at all, and he doesn’t like to get hit. Horn has to make Crawford feel pain by hitting him hard each time he catches up to him. I’d like to think Crawford will stand his ground and fight against Horn, but I don’t think he will. He’ll get on his bike and start showboating if Horn pressures him a lot.

There’s a chance Manny Pacquiao could fight on the undercard. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum wants the 39-year-old Pacquiao to fight the winner of the Horn-Crawford fight. If you see Pacquiao on the undercard, it means that he’s on board with Arum’s choice for him to face the winner. It’s likely will fight the winner regardless of what he wants. Pacquiao mentioned wanting to fight Vasly Lomachenko next, but that’s not going to happen. Arum wants Pacquiao to fight the Horn vs. Crawford winner, so that’s who he likely will face unless he all of a sudden gets assertive and rejects facing Horn or Crawford. I can’t see that happening. Pacquiao has pretty much been fighting the guys that Arum has wanted him to since he signed on with Top Rank many years ago. If Pacquiao does fight on the Horn-Crawford undercard, then the fight card should end up on ESPN PPV. Pacquiao and Crawford on the same card will make it a big enough card to bring in a certain amount of PPV buys from casual and hardcore boxing fans. My guess is the fight card will bring in slightly less than 300,000 buys depending on who Pacquiao is matched up against.

“If he was ever going to be intimidated, then (the Manny Pacquiao fight, in Australia but in front of 50,000 fans; Horn being a huge underdog) was the time,” Horn’s manager Dean Lonergan told The New Daily. “Madison Square Garden only holds 22,000. If the crowd boo him – which I don’t think they will – Jeff will rise above it.”

Horn should have pushed for Brisbane, Australia for the Crawford fight. That would have given him his best chance of beating the Nebraska native.

Horn, 29, will be fighting in front of a likely small crowd of 22,000 boxing fans compared to the 50,000+ he likely could have fought in front of if he’d insisted that the fight take place in his native Australia. It’s unclear why Top Rank wants the Horn-Crawford fight to take place in the U.S rather than in Australia, where it would draw a lot more fans. Top Rank didn’t have an issue with Manny Pacquiao fighting Horn in Australia last July. That fight didn’t turn out well for Pacquiao, who was roughed up the junior middleweight-sized Horn all night long, and ended up losing a controversial 12 round unanimous decision. Crawford is pretty important to Top Rank, so you can assume they might not have wanted to chance it with him after the Pacquiao outcome. It still could be a hard fight for Crawford. He tends to rehydrate to 157 pounds at light welterweight, where he recently unified the division. Horn will probably come into the fight in the low 170s on the night of the fight on April 14.

Crawford hasn’t been fighting anyone with any real talent at 140 all these years. That’s the main criticism that boxing fans have of Crawford. He’s been beating guys that pretty much every top welterweight would destroy. These are the fighters Crawford has beaten at 140:

• Julius Indongo – A limited slugger with a leaky defense and weak resume

• Felix Diaz – a 5’5” welterweight, who moved down to 140 to fight Crawford. Diaz had already been beaten recently by Lamont Peterson. Crawford ran much of the time from Diaz, and made the fight boring to watch

• John Molina – a former knockout victim of Lucas Matthysse. Molina is arguably a high level journeyman

• Victor Postol – a stork-like fighter with little punching power. Postol would have no chance against the top welterweights like Shawn Porter, Errol Spence Jr., and Keith Thurman. They would all knock him out in my estimation. Crawford had to go the distance with Postol. Part of the reason for that is Crawford did a lot of running instead of actual fighting.

• Henry Lundy – high level journeyman

• Dierry Jean – 2nd tier level fighter. Jean is more of a bottom fringe level fighter

• Thomas Dulorme – fringe level fighter

The above list is the fighters that Crawford beat at 140, and it’s not an impressive list at all. It’s very likely that the top 10 in the welterweight division would beat everyone that Crawford defeated at 140, but do a better job of it.

“While the Australian market is a good market, it’s not quite America, where you’ve got the biggest economy in the world, 300 million people and massive boxing support. I don’t think we’ve seen anything like this in a very, very long time,” said Lonergan.

I don’t know what kind of audience Lonergan is expecting for the Horn-Crawford fight in the U.S, but he might be disappointed in the numbers. Without Pacquiao fighting on the April 14th card, I’d be very surprised if it sells out at all unless Arum sticks some of his East Coast fighters on the undercard like Shakur Stevenson, which I’m almost he’ll do. Crawford is from Nebraska. He’s not a big ticket seller in New York. Horn is from Australia. It’s a bad venue for this fight. If the Horn-Crawford fight fails to sell out MSG, Lonergan might end up second-guessing himself for having agreed to fight in the States rather than Australia, where he Horn could have brought in a massive amount of his loyal boxing fans.

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