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Crawford: “I’ll be looking to seek and destroy” on April 20

Amir Khan Terence Crawford

By Mike Smith: WBO 147 lb title holder Terence “Bud” Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) says he’s going to be on a “seek and destroy” mission on April 20 when he defends his title against former light welterweight champion Amir “King” Khan (33-4, 20 KOs) on ESPN pay-per-view at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Crawford is respectful of the boxing skills, accomplishments and overall talent the 32-year-old Khan brings to the table in this fight.

Crawford knows he’s facing one of the best in the welterweight division and if he doesn’t know that, he’ll soon find out. Khan is arguably the best opponent that Crawford has fought in his 11-year pro career, and victory isn’t guaranteed in this fight unlike in his other fights as a pro.

Crawford hasn’t been put in tough yet by his promoters at Top Rank. Khan is the beginning of what could be a tough road for Crawford to try and unify the welterweight division, and take the #1 spot in the pound-for-pound rankings. Those are the Nebraska native’s two short term goals, he says. Crawford’s long term goal is to be voted into the Boxing Hall of Fame one day when his career is over. To get to that level, Crawford will need to show that he can beat the best at 147. He’s not done that yet. He’s beaten Jose Benavidez Jr. and Jeff Horn, and those guys are far away from the talented guys at welterweight.

“By no means am I taking him lightly,” Crawford said to BT Sport about Amir Khan. “We’re taking all the precautions we need to take to make sure we’re 100% ready for the fight. He’s very good at boxing. He’s very fast,” Crawford said about Khan. “He knows what he’s doing inside the ring. So he’s never lost at welterweight, so I rate him as one of the top welterweights in the division,” Crawford said.

Crawford has an advantage over Khan in that he’s been busier with his career in the last seven years. Khan has become a part-time fighter since 2012. He’s fought erratically since losing to Danny Garcia in 2012. Khan fought once in 2013, twice in 2014, once in 2015, once in 2016, and not at all in 2017 and then fighting twice in 2018. There was five years, 2013 to 2017, where Khan fought rarely. In 2018, Khan started picking things up again in fighting twice, but he did it against poor opposition in Samuel Vargas and Phil Lo Greco. With that time out of the ring, it wasn’t surprising to see Khan getting dropped in the second round in his last fight by Vargas in September last year. Vargas isn’t in the same league as Khan, and he shouldn’t have been able to do that to him. But with all the time out of the ring, Khan isn’t as sharp as he was during his best years of his career from 2009 to 2012.

“Come April 20th, I’ll be looking to go out there and seek and destroy,” Crawford said.

Crawford, 31, isn’t really a “seek and destroy” type of fighter. Although he’s got better than average power, Crawford isn’t a huge puncher with Julian Jackson type one-punch power. Crawford can punch a little, but you’d have to rate his power below guys like Errol Spence Jr., Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, Keith Thurman, Yordenis Ugas and Thomas Dulorme. Crawford is more of a Jessie Vargas type puncher. He’s someone that needs to land a lot of shots to score knockouts. When Crawford does knockout guys, in a lot of cases it’s from him catching them with a counter shot that they didn’t see coming. Even when Crawford was light welterweight, he wasn’t a big puncher like Regis Prograis, Kiryl Relikh, Ivan Baranchyk or Jose Carlos Ramirez. Those guys all have top rate power. It would be better for Crawford not to change his game for the Khan fight, thinking he can do what other fighters [Saul Canelo Alvarez, Danny Garcia and Briedis Prescott] have done in knocking him out. Those are all bigger punchers than Crawford. It’s not all that much of a shock that Khan would be knocked out by those types of punchers.

The main reason Khan was knocked out by those three fighters is he got careless by throwing too many shots, and not focusing on his defense. Against Garcia and Prescott, Khan was nailed by hard punches when he was attempting to throw left hooks. In Khan’s knockout loss to Canelo, Khan threw a lazy jab and Alvarez, a counter puncher by nature, countered him with a well-timed right hand that he didn’t see coming. The shot knocked Khan out cold. Khan doesn’t have a weak chin, like some boxing fans believe. He’s sloppy at times with his defense, and he gets carried away when he throws sustained combinations, and wide hooks that leave him vulnerable to getting caught.

“My main focus is on Amir Khan right now, and after that we can go from there,” Crawford said when asked who he wants to fight next after the Khan fight.

Crawford wants to fight IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. (25-0, 21 KOs) after the Khan fight, but that’s not likely to happen. Spence has a fight with World Boxing Council welterweight champion Shawn Porter coming up in the summer. After that, the Spence vs. Porter winner will surely look to face the winner of the Manny Pacquiao vs. Keith Thurman fight. Moreover, there could be rematches each step of the way that will delay Crawford getting a shot at the eventual winner of those fights. Crawford may need to wait as long as two, possibly three years before he eventually faces the last man standing from those fights. Crawford is about to turn 32 in September, so he could be 35 or even 36 by the time he faces the winner of those fights. Will Crawford still be the same fighter he is now when he’s in his mid-30s? Probably not. He’ll need to use his feet more, because his hand speed will clearly drop off a notch or two by then.

“I still think I got a lot left, and a lot more to show, as well as grow,” Crawford said. “I want to become undisputed welterweight champion of the world. That’s my goal, and then I want to be ranked #1 pound-for-pound in the world. Those are my two short term goals as of right now,” Crawford said.

Crawford probably has a couple good years left him in him before his boxing skills start to decline. If he faces beatable guys that can’t hit him a lot, then he might last longer. Crawford’s next fight after the Khan match is expected to be against #1 WBO Egidijus Kavaliauskas. That should be an easy one for him. It’s unclear who Top Rank will match Crawford up against after the Kavaliauskas fight. They may need to throw a lot of money at one of the non-Top Rank fighters to try and lure them into taking the fight against Crawford. That’s what they did in getting Khan to agree to the fight. Khan chose to put off a big pay-per-view fight against Kell Brook in order to fight Crawford.

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