Jeff Horn: Terence Crawford fight is bigger than Pacquiao match
By Chris Williams: Jeff Horn states that his fight this Saturday night against former unified light welterweight champion Terence Crawford is a bigger fight for him than his huge fight against former eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao last year in July.
Horn, 30, will be a huge underdog when he steps into the ring to defend his WBO welterweight title against the unbeaten Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) in front of what is expected to be a big crowd at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. The fight will be televised on ESPN.
Horn defeated Manny Pacquiao last year in July in beating him by a disputed 12 round unanimous decision in his hometown of Brisbane, Australia. Horn lost the fight in the view of many boxing fans. They overwhelmingly saw it as a hometown decision for Horn, who used his size advantage to rough up the then 38-year-old Pacquiao for the entire fight. It’s expected that Horn will fight in a similar manner on Saturday against Crawford if he can get away with it. That will depend on the referee Robert Byrd and on Crawford.
“This is an absolutely massive fight. The Pacquiao one was as well, but this is even bigger,” Horn said to ESPN.com. ”I’ll be beating a unified world champion. My contract with Top Rank ends and I can negotiate a substantial amount for my next fight. There’s so much on the line for my career if I can win this fight.”
It’s easy to see why this is a bigger fight for Horn than the Pacquiao match. Unlike Pacquiao, Crawford is still young and in his prime at 30, and he’s not a fighter with a fulltime senatorial job that keeps him from focusing on his craft. Pacquiao is a fulltime senator in the Philippines, and he spends a lot of time on a daily basis on the job. Crawford only has boxing, so he’s training all the time. Pacquiao has been in many wars over the years inside the ring, and he’s got a lot of wear and tear on him.
Crawford’s fast feet, counter punching ability and unfortunately relatively soft match-making by Top Rank has kept him from taking punishment. Top Rank hasn’t matched Crawford against guys that would test his chin like Regis Prograis, Jose Ramirez, Mikey Garcia, Vasyl Lomachenko, Errol Spence Jr., Sergey Lipinets or Kiryl Relikh. Those guys would hit Crawford back and make him fight hard for a change. He couldn’t count on staying on the outside all fight long picking them off. Those fighters would hit Crawford to the body where he’s vulnerable, and make him prove that he can take punishment as well as he can dish it out.
The question mark about Crawford is obviously his chin and his ability to take body shots. Crawford looks very vulnerable when he’s getting hit. If you look at his fights against Felix Diaz and Viktor Postol, Crawford appeared almost fragile when he was getting caught with occasional shots that would cause his head to whiplash wildly on his slender neck. Crawford doesn’t look like he’s made to take punishment as well as other fighters. This gives Horn a chance if he can take the fight to Crawford and turn it into a war where both fighters will need to be able to take punishment. If Horn’s work rate is high and his ability to take shots is up to the task, he could wear Crawford down and knock him out. Crawford doesn’t have a high work rate, and he never will. He’s not that kind of a fighter. He’s more of a Floyd Mayweather Jr. type of pot shot artist.
Horn will need to be super aggressive, and fast on his feet if he’s to have any chance of winning the fight, because Crawford often gives ground when he’s being attacked hard by his opponents. He likes to move around the ring, and then suddenly stop to try and land a pot shot or a several fast combinations. It
would help Horn’s case if he can take a lot of punishment, because he’s going to be getting hit a lot while he’s coming straight at Crawford. It’s possible that Horn can win. Many fighters in the past were able to walk through fire to stop a clever boxer with fast feet. It will take a massive amount of pressure by Horn and a good chin for him to get the ‘W’ against the clever, switch-hitting Crawford.
Horn wasn’t supposed to beat Pacquiao last year, but he used the perfect game plan to exploit the Filipino’s lack of size to rough him up, and cut him with his head-butting. If Horn uses his head against Crawford like he did against Pacquiao, he could potentially slice his face up as well. If Crawford is forced to fight with cuts to one or both eyes, it could change the complexion of the fight entirely. Not being able to see clearly through eyes that have blood leaking into them constantly will make Crawford a different fighter, who will need to depend more on his movement and holding than in fighting Horn. Provided that Horn isn’t fouled out of the fight by the referee Robert Byrd, this match could easily follow along the same path as the Horn-Pacquiao. Whether intentional or not, Horn sliced Pacquiao’s face to ribbons with the way he rammed him with his head during the first three quarters of the bout. In the championship rounds, Horn used his powerful jab and right hand to inflict heavy punishment on the fatigued Pacquiao to dominate the 10, 11 and 12th rounds.
Horn can turn himself into a star overnight on Saturday night if he beats Crawford. Not only will Horn likely get a bigger contract with Top Rank, he could get moved to the top 5 of the pound-for-pound lists, and be viewed as one of the fighters to beat in the welterweight division. Right now, Horn is seen as little more than a crude brawler, who was the beneficiary of what many felt, was a gift decision against Pacquiao. That’s the only name fighter on Horn’s resume as a pro. The rest of the fighters are older guys and domestic level guys with limited talent. Horn can become the A-side with a victory over Crawford, and put his promoter Bob Arum in a tough position whether to decide to make a rematch between the two. I’m not sure that Arum would, as he believes that Crawford is a star in the making.
Arum has been grooming him for stardom for many years, selectively picking his opponents and not putting him in with sharks like Mikey Garcia, Regis Prograis and Errol Spence Jr. Arum has definitely been selective in the type of fighters that he’s matched Crawford against. Instead of putting him in with Prograis, Arum has matched Crawford against Dierry Jean, Julius Indongo, Hank Lundy, Ricky Burns, John Molina Jr. and Viktor Postol. In other word, Arum had opted to match Crawford against B-level guys and not the A-fighters that could potentially wreck his investment. It’s the same thing we’re seeing with Top Rank fighter Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez. Instead of Arum putting Ramirez in the World Boxing Super Series tournament to compete against the best fighters in the 168 lb. division, he has him fighting obscure fighters Roamer Alexis Angulo and Habib Ahmed. The match-making that is being done for Ramirez by Top Rank has been horrible to say the least. Crawford has been matched in the same way, making him look better than he likely is. For example, Crawford recently knocked out Indongo in the 3rd round. A lot of fuss was made out of Crawford’s victory over Indongo until Regis Prograis stopped him in the 2nd round in his last fight. Prograis hurt Indongo with a jab in the 2nd round, and it was history after that. My point is that promoters can make their fighters look better than they are by selectively matching them. We saw that with how Top Rank matched Pacquiao during long periods in his career. Instead of matching Pacquiao against Mayweather, Arum was putting him in with Brandon Rios, Chris Algieri, a past his prime Shane Mosley and Antonio Margarito. When Arum finally did match Pacquiao against Mayweather, he was easily beaten, and his career has never been the same. It’s entirely possible that Crawford is the same fighter, who looks great now thanks to the clever match-making by Top Rank.