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Terence Crawford: Pacquiao is NOT a champion in my eyes

Manny Pacquiao Terence Crawford

By Mike Smith: Terence Crawford says he doesn’t see WBA ‘regular’ welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao as a real champion, because he doesn’t hold the WBA ‘Super belt,” which is currently held by inactive fighter Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman.

The greatly rejuvenated looking 39-year-old Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) won the WBA title last summer in stopping champion Lucas Matthysse in the 7th round in Malaysia. This was Pacquiao’s first knockout in nine years since his 12th round stoppage in 2009. A lot of boxing fans would argue that Pacquiao’s performance against Matthysse suggests that he’s very much a real champion, and that may even have enough left in the tank to defeat the 29-year-old Thurman when he returns to the ring in 2019. Pacquiao looked more muscular and powerful against Matthysse than he has in years. Pacquiao has clearly been hitting the weights to build his muscles back up. If Pacquiao can continue to keep his body in the same condition he was in for the Matthysse fight, there’s not a fighter in the 147 pound weight class that he wouldn’t be a threat to beat.

Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) will be defending his WBO welterweight title this Saturday night, October 13 on ESPN+ against #3 WBO Jose Benavidez (27-0, 18 KOs) at the CHI Health Center, in Omaha, Nebraska.

”He’s not a champion in my eyes. He don’t have the super belt,” Crawford said about Pacquiao. ”That’s the champion in my eyes. I look at the number one champion in the division. I don’t look at the WBC Silver and the interim belts and all that. I look at the super and the actual champion of the division.”

Unfortunately for the bitter-sounding Crawford, the boxing fans don’t see things the same way he does when they look at who the champions are. Pacquiao having the WBA ‘regular’ 147 pound title means he’s viewed as a champion just like any of the other belt holders are welterweight. The fans still see the highly popular Pacquiao as a world champion regardless of him not holding the WBA ‘Super World’ welterweight title. The World Boxing Association has made things a little confusing with them having two world champions with their organization at 147. However, that doesn’t mean the casual boxing fans don’t view Pacquiao as a world champion. As long as Pacquiao is announced as the WBA World welterweight champion when he comes out into the ring for his next fight, whenever that is, the fans are going to see him as a champion. Crawford’s own isolated opinion of Pacquiao’s status doesn’t mean anything. It’s how the fans view Pacquiao that is is important.

Crawford is viewed as the secondary champion at 147 by a lot of hardcore boxing fans. They see IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. as the only true champion, because he’s considered the best in the 147 pound weight class and he beat a very good fighter in Kell Brook in 2017 to win the IBF belt. Crawford beat Jeff Horn to win the WBO welterweight title on June 9th. Horn wasn’t a well-respected champion because of his controversial 12 round decision win over Pacquiao in July of 2017 in Brisbane, Australia. Horn mugged Pacquiao in beating him in his own hometown of Brisbane. It was Pacquiao’s mistake to agree to fight Horn in Australia instead of a venue where he would have a better chance of winning a decision.

Crawford needs to face Errol Spence and prove that he can beat him for him to take the baton from him as the #1 guy at 147. However, that’s not going to be easy to do because the fighters are with different management and fight on different networks. Spence vs. Crawford isn’t a big enough fight right now for it to be shared on separate networks. With the audiences being split for a dual network telecast, it would reduce the amount of fans that would tune in to see the fight on the separate networks. It only works if one of the network gets to show the fight and the other gets stuck having to televise it on delay after it’s already taken place. If Crawford and Spence were hugely popular fighters like Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. were in 2015,then it would make sense for the separate networks to work out a deal for the fight.

Crawford’s promoter Todd Duboef of Top Rank says he’s open to having him fight all the other elite welterweights. Whether he can make that happen is the big question.

“We’re going to go after all those guys,” said Top Rank president Todd Duboef. “We’re not allowing anything, no politics, no nothing, to get in the way. They want to do it. We want to do it. Let’s just get it done. We’ll figure out a solution.”

Crawford is 31-years-old now, and he still hasn’t been involved in a major fight during his 10-year pro career. With most of the top fighters at welterweight being signed with Al Haymon, Crawford might need to think about moving up in weight to 154 if he wants to get a big fight. Crawford can always move to another promoter once his contract with Top Rank expires. However, that’s unlikely to happen. Crawford recently re-signed with Top Rank, and it’s unclear how many years he signed for. If it’s three or more years, it might take him to the end of his prime. When Crawford 34 or 35, he might find it tougher to beat the younger lions that are coming up the ranks. The way that Crawford is being matched by Top Rank against guys like Benavidez and Horn, he can probably continue to win for the next 10 years against that caliber of opposition. The drawback is Crawford won’t become a star fighting lesser opposition like those guys. Crawford needs to fight the lions in the division like Spence, Thurman, Shawn Porter, Pacquiao and Danny Garcia. If Top Rank can’t deliver those fights for Crawford, then his career will be stunted. He’ll be another talented fighter who wasn’t able to realize his potential due to the politics in boxing, and his decision to sign with a promoter that was unable to deliver him the fights that he needed to become a star.

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