Terence Crawford vs. Amir Khan close to be finalized for April 20
By Mike Smith: Top Rank promoter Bob Arum says a fight between WBO welterweight title holder Terence Crawford and Amir Khan could be finalized by next week for a fight on April 20 on ESPN PPV, according to Dan Rafael. The fight is close to being a done deal. Arum believes that an announcement for the fight could be made by next between the pound-for-pound star Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) and former IBF/WBA light welterweight champion Khan (33-4, 20 KOs).
Khan is expected to get a payday of close to $5 million for the fight, which is a good payday for a fighter who has done next to nothing with his career since 2011. Khan wants to become a world champion again, as it’s been eight years since he lost his IBF/WBA 140 pound titles to Lamont Peterson by a 12 round split decision in November 2011 in Washington, DC. At the very least, Khan will get a nice payday before he faces former IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook in a grudge match in the UK in the second half of 2019. That fight is seen as a cash out for both fighters. The loser of the Khan vs. Brook fight could possibly retire. If Khan loses to Brook in addition to losing to Crawford, it’s hard to imagine him continuing his career. You never know though with Khan. He might get a good money offer from his promoter Eddie Hearn to face a fading fighter like Adrien Broner, who is expected to lose his next fight to WBA ‘regular’ welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao on January 19 on SHOWTIME PPV.
This would give Crawford his biggest named opponent of his career. Khan is most well known guy Crawford will have faced, but not necessarily the most talented. Crawford beat former featherweight world champion Yuriorkis Gamboa by a ninth round knockout in 2014. Gamboa is 2004 Olympic gold medalist from Cuba. Even with a big size advantage over Gamboa, Crawford struggled against him until the fifth round. It’s easy to believe that if the two fighters were the same age and fighting in the same weight class, Crawford would have lost. Despite being much smaller, Gamboa was making Crawford look really bad until the 5th, when he was knocked down after slipping on the canvas. The referee blew the call and counted it as a knockdown. Gamboa then lost his cool out of anger from the referee making a mistake, and he started going wild in winging punches. This was what Crawford, a counter puncher by trade, was looking for. He was then able to take control of the fight and cruise to a ninth round stoppage in over the much smaller, and older Gamboa.
“Everything looks good,” Arum said to ESPN.com. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to make an announcement next week. It’s not done until it’s done, but I’m very optimistic.”
The Crawford vs. Khan fight will be taking place in Las Vegas, Nevada instead of New York, where it previously was talked about taking place at Madison Square Garden. It’s irrelevant where the fight takes place. Crawford and Khan are not popular attractions for New York or Las Vegas. It’ll be interesting to see if a decent sized crowd will show up to see the Crawford-Khan fight if it’s staged in Las Vegas. Top Rank will need to add some popular fighters for the undercard if they want to bring in the fans, because Crawford vs. Khan isn’t likely going to interest fans from around the area to come see the fight. Khan’s fans are largely in the UK, and it’s unlikely that more than a small handful will bother coming all the way to the U.S to see him face Crawford. Terence’s fans are in Nebraska, and that’s a long, expensive journey from that state to Las Vegas to watch him fight a guy that he’s expected to easily beat.
Khan, 32, and Crawford both are in agreement with the contract deal. Arum assures that it won’t cost $75 for boxing fans to order the Crawford vs. Khan fight on ESPN. This could be seen as a jab by the promoter at the Manny Pacquiao vs. Adrien ‘The Problem’ Broner fight on January 19, which is said to be selling for $75 on SHOWTIME PPV. Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury, which took place last month on December 1 on SHOWTIME pay-per-view, sold for $75. However, Crawford-Khan won’t come cheap for the fans. It’s expected to be priced at $59.95, according to ESPN. That’s a lot of money for some boxing fans to watch a champion that isn’t all that popular fight #4 WBO Khan, who is viewed as having done very little with his career since losing to Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia in consecutive fights in 2011 and 2012.
Since returning the ring in 2018, Khan has fought only twice in beating Phil Lo Greco and Samuel Vargas after being out of the ring two years after a sixth round knockout loss to Saul Canelo Alvarez in 2016. Selling Crawford vs. Khan for $59.95 might doom the fight to be seen by very, very few boxing fans. Khan isn’t popular in the U.S, and the hardcore fans that know him, aren’t enthralled with his talent.
Khan is seen as an over-the-hill fighter with poor punch resistance in the eyes of a lot of boxing hardcore fans in the United States. Crawford-Khan isn’t the best fight to be put on ESPN PPV. It would be better if Top Rank waited until they negotiated a fight with a true top welterweight like Errol Spence Jr. for a unification match against Crawford on ESPN pay-per-view. Spence-Crawford is a true pay-per-view worthy fight between two of the best fighters in the 147 lb weight class. Crawford vs. Khan is the type of fights that boxing fans have seen with Terence in the past in facing over-matched opposition like Felix Diaz, John Molina Jr., Julius Indongo, Dierry Jean, Raymundo Beltran, Thomas Dulorme, Viktor Postol, Ricky Burns and Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Crawford will be a huge favorite over Khan with the odds-makers once the fight is announced next week. When you have a fight where it’s viewed as a clear mismatch like this one between Crawford, 31, and the struggling Khan, it’s not an ideal match to be on pay-per-view, at least in the U.S. Crawford vs. Khan would likely bring in good PPV numbers in the UK, where Amir is considered one of the most popular fighters in that part of the world. But as far as in the U.S, Khan has no fan base to speak of, and Crawford is mainly popular in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.
Despite Crawford having unified the 140 pound weight class in August 2017, he’s not been able to make the leap to superstar status like others to become a PPV star. Part of the problem is the mediocre opposition that Top Rank has fed Crawford. None of the guys that Crawford has fought during his 11-year pro career have been popular enough for him to generate a lot of interest with his career. There’s nothing wrong with guys like Diaz, Indongo, Molina Jr., Dulorme, Burns, Jean, Jeff Horn and Jose Benavidez, but they’re just not big enough names for Crawford to increase his popularity. The other factor that has likely kept Crawford from becoming popular is his style of fighting. He’s a counter puncher, who tends to wait on his opponents to throw something before he fires back a shot. Crawford isn’t an aggressive fighter, and he uses a lot of movement and switch hitting in his fights to beat his opponents.
Crawford unified the 140 lb division in 2017 in beating IBF/WBA champion Julius Indongo by a third round knockout on August 19, 2017. Seeing no future as a unified champion at light welterweight, Crawford vacated all four of his titles, and then moved up to welterweight to defeat World Boxing Organization 147 pound champion Jeff Horn by a ninth round knockout last year on June 9, 2018 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Horn is also promoted by Top Rank, so it was an easy fight to make between him and Crawford.
Top Rank hasn’t matched Crawford against the arguably much more talented welterweight champions in Errol Spence Jr., WBC champion Shawn Porter, WBA Super World champion Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman or WBA ‘regular’ champion Manny ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao. Those are clearly better fighter than Horn, and it’s unclear whether Crawford would be able to beat any of them with his counter punching style of fighting. Crawford would need to be a lot more aggressive to beat those guys than he’s been in beating the 135 and 140 pound fighters. In Crawford’s last fight, he defeated Jose Benavidez Jr. by a 12th round knockout on October 13. Crawford did not look good in that fight. Top Rank has some good fighters in their stable at lightweight in Vasyl Lomachenko, 140 in Jose Ramirez and 175 in Oleksandr Gvozdyk, but they have only limited talent at 147 to match against Crawford. Benavidez, unfortunately, is the best that Top Rank has, and he’s arguably little more than a bottom fringe level fighter. It wasn’t a good sign that Crawford had to struggle to beat Benavidez. The way that Crawford looked against Benavidez, it made it clear that he’s not going to be the same fighter at 147 as he was at 140.
With no options for fights between Crawford and the talented elite at 147, Arum was able to make a deal with Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn to have Khan face him. Hearn has been quite vocal in preferring that Khan fight Brook next rather than Crawford, but it wasn’t his call. Khan wants the fight with Crawford, as he wants a chance to win another world title and defeat a pound-for-pound guy. Some boxing fans that’s not the real reason Khan wants to fight Crawford. They see it as a money grab on Khan’s part. It’s the best paying offer that Khan has aside from his fight with Brook, which will still be there for him, even if Amir is knocked cold in the first 20 seconds by Crawford on April 20.
There aren’t any other big money fights for Khan other than the Crawford and Brook fight. Unfortunately for Arum, Crawford won’t likely see a huge surge in his popularity by beating a foreign fighter like Khan, as he’s not from the U.S and he’s not well known with the casual boxing fans in that country. As this writer has already mentioned, the hardcore fans in the U.S don’t see Khan as good fighter. They see him as fading guy with a chin problem, whose career has been on the downside since 2011. For Crawford to get a big bump in popularity, he needs to defeat the relevant fighters from this era like Keith Thurman, Errol Spence and Shawn Porter. Pacquiao probably wouldn’t be a good enough win for Crawford to increase his popularity. Crawford needs victories over Spence, Thurman and/or Porter.
Khan could be making a mistake in facing Crawford instead of Brook (38-2, 26 KOs). That’s the fight Hearn feels is the far bigger one money wise, and he thinks it’s not a good idea for Khan to turn his back on it right now. If Khan gets thrashed by Crawford, which most fans believe will be the case, it could result in a lot of boxing fans in the UK turning up their noses when Hearn tries to peddle the Khan-Brook fight on Sky Box Office PPV later this year. Right now, a lot of UK boxing fans are excited about the Khan-Brook fight, since both guys have won their last two fights to help rejuvenate their careers after knockout losses. If Khan gets obliterated by Crawford, then those same fans are likely not going to want to pay to see Khan fight Brook Why would they? The loss for Khan would be his second in his last four fights. With a record of 2-2, Khan would be limping into a fight with Brook, who also has a 2-2 record in his last four fights. That’s not exactly a mega-fight type of match.
After Khan was destroyed by former WBC middleweight champion Saul Canelo Alvarez in six rounds in May 2016, he took two years off from boxing to help from a hand injury, and take it easy. When Khan did come back, he signed with Eddie Hearn, who was eager to put together a fight between him and Brook after putting them both in two tune-up fights a piece against weak opposition. Khan destroyed Phil Lo Greco in one round last year on April 21, and then struggled to beat fringe contender Samuel Vargas by a 12 round unanimous decision on September 8. Khan looked very poor in getting dropped by Vargas in the second round of that fight. After beating Vargas, Khan was supposed to have been matched up with Brook in a UK mega-fight on Sky Box Office PPV. Khan balked at taking the fight with Brook, instead deciding on facing Crawford for an additional payday and a chance to win the WBO 147 pound title.