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Crawford and Khan battle it out on Saturday

Amir Khan Terence Crawford

By Trevor McIntyre: WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) and former IBF/WBA light welterweight champion Amir “King” Khan (33-4, 20 KOs) met on Wednesday afternoon for their final news conference before their fight his Saturday night on April 20 on the Top Rank Boxing card on ESPN pay-per-view at Madison Square Garden in New York. The fight card starts at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT. That’s a good hour for people that live on East Coast.

(Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank)

Khan will be making $5 million for the Crawford fight. Khan could have made even more than that if he had taken a fight against Kell Brook, but he didn’t want it. Khan wants the payday fight against Crawford, and then he’ll face Brook, as he loses on Saturday. It’s a bad deal for Brook. He’ll be stuck fighting a tainted Khan in a fight where he’ll have very little to gain and a lot to lose. Khan’s British fans wanted to see him fight Brook. Although they also like the idea of seeing Khan fight Crawford, but not as much. They’d rather see Khan fight Errol Spence Jr., Keith Thurman or Manny Pacquiao.

Khan chose Crawford because the money he was offered by Top Rank was too hard for him to resist. In other words, Top Rank gave Khan an offer he couldn’t refuse. Some boxing fans think Top Rank is buying a name for Crawford to add to his resume. The idea is that Crawford will become more popular by adding Khan’s name to his resume by beating. The money that Top Rank is paying Khan will come back to the promotional company in droves if their plan of turning Crawford into a star works.

Crawford, 31, says he wants to take on the other champions at welterweight, but those fights have proven to be illusive for him. It’s unclear whether the Top Rank promoted Crawford will ever fight the likes of Errol Spence Jr., Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter or Keith Thurman. Top Rank was able to fish Khan from the bunch, but only because he’s always been a wild card type of fighter, and he’s clearly nearing the end of his boxing career.

Khan wants to maximize his income before he hands up his gloves, and one way for him to do that was to agree to the money Top Rank offered him. Even if Khan loses the fight, he has another big payday coming down the pike against Kell Brook. Khan need to wait though before he gets the Brook fight, as Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn says Brook wants to fight Crawford, and he plans on attending the Crawford-Khan fight on Saturday night to make it known that he wants him next.

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Top Rank wanted to match Crawford against 37-year-old former WBA welterweight champion Luis Collazo (39-7, 20 KOs) in a voluntary defense, but he resisted that idea. When they offered Crawford a fight against the 32-year-old Khan, he liked that idea better, even though he’s not much of a bump up from Collazo. Khan beat Collazo by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision five years ago in May 2014. Had Crawford agreed to take the fight with the #10 WBO Collazo, he’d be essentially facing the same level fighter that he’d been facing lately in Jose Benavidez Jr. and Jeff Horn. Khan could have fought Kell Brook. In fact, that’s who his promoter Eddie Hearn wanted him to fight. He’s not too happy about that, because that would have made both Brook and Khan a lot of money.

For some reason, Khan didn’t want to take it. He says he wanted the Crawford fight for his legacy, because it gives him a shot at winning the WBO 147 lb title, and beating the #2 pound-for-pound fighter in boxing. For some fans, they think Khan simply doesn’t want to deal with the humilition of losing to someone from his own country in the UK.

There’s been back and forth trash talk that has gone on between Khan and Brook for over a decade now. It’s to the point where it seems like Khan doesn’t want to make that fight, and potentially suffer a bad loss that would give Brook the last laugh. It’s similar to how Ricky Hatton wouldn’t fight Junior Witter when he was a top guy in the UK, and calling him out a lot. Hatton would have made a lot of money had he fought Witter, but it was a bad style match-up, and he might have lost. So rather than take the fight, Hatton decided not to. They both ended up losing, because there was good money they could have made had Hatton swallowed his prime and faced Witter. Now Khan is doing the same thing with Brook, and he’s hurting him and himself by not taking the fight.

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“Amir Khan’s name came up because he was the next best welterweight in the division,” Crawford said at Wednesday’s final news conference. “I could’ve easily took [Luis] Collazo. He could’ve took another fight with Kell Brook. I could’ve took Collazo, but that wasn’t the job that I really wanted to take. Amir Khan is a great fighter. I can’t take nothing away from. He’s done a lot in the sport of boxing. He has a big name. He’s undefeated at the welterweight division. So why not take another step up?” Crawford said.

Khan has a big name in the UK, but not so big in the U.S. To become a star in the U.S, you have to beat people. The guys that Khan beat were largely B-level fighters at best. Khan’s best wins have come against Marcos Maidana, Luis Collazo, Devon Alexander, Paulie Malignaggi, Chris Algieri, Samuel Vargas, Julio Diaz, Zab Judah, Paul McCloskey, Marco Antonio Barrera, Dmitriy Salita, Graham Earl, Willie Limond and Andriy Kotelnik. A lot of the wins for Khan came when he was fighting at lightweight against guys a lot smaller than him. Khan was a real terror when he was fighting at lightweight due to his size and hand speed. At 140 and 147, Khan hasn’t been nearly as impressive than he was at 135.

“Amir Khan is a great fighter. I can’t take nothing away from him. He’s done a lot in the sport of boxing,” Crawford said. He has a big name. He’s undefeated at the welterweight division. So, why not take another step up?”

Khan has made a lot of money with his career. With a net worth of $30 million, Khan has done well for himself. He obviously could have made even more if he’d fought more often in the last five years, but he enjoys traveling, and obviously it became harder for him to stay busy once he started tasking the big money. Khan hasn’t accomplished a whole lot since his losses to Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia in 2011 and 2012. It’s mostly just been Khan taking tune-ups since 2013. Khan did challenge former WBC middleweight champion Saul Canelo Alvarez in 2016, but was wiped out in six rounds. Khan has fought only two times since then in beating Phil Lo Greco and Samuel Vargas. Khan almost lost to Vargas last September. The performance in that fight makes one suspicious about the motives by Top Rank in selecting him as an opponent for Crawford. Did they choose Khan because he’s got a big name and done a lot in boxing or did they select him because he’s a shot fighter?

Where Khan has struggled in the last seven years is with his punch resistance and his stamina. The latter has helped decrease his ability to take heavy shots. This has led to Khan suffering knockout losses to Danny Garcia in 2012, and Saul Canelo Alvarez in 2016. Khan was also knocked out by Breidis Prescott in the first round in 2008. Khan was almost knocked out by Marco Maidana in 2010. Khan does have some good wins over Collazo, Maidana, Alexander, Vargas, Chris Algieri, Barrera and Judah. Some of those guys were old and over the hill at the time that Khan fought them. Judah, Barrera, Collazo and Alexander weren’t in their prime when Khan beat them.

Khan comes into this fight on Saturday with a two-fight winning streak over Samuel Vargas and Phil Lo Greco. Khan is concerned with Crawford’s punching power and counter punching ability. He doesn’t want to get caught with anything silly.

“I am focused for this fight, and I know that I can’t make any mistakes in this fight because I could be in trouble,” Khan said.

Crawford isn’t that big of a puncher. He scores knockouts by hitting his opponents with a lot of shots rather than taking them out quickly with a surge of heavy shots like Errol Spence.

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