Andre Ward reacts to Terence Crawford’s win over Egidijus Kavaliauskas
By Dean Berman: ESPN commentator Andre Ward says Terence Crawford made his job harder than it should have been by going straight at the hard hitting challenger Egidijus Kavaliauskas in training power shots with him in the first five rounds of their fight last Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Crawford’s unusually aggressive manner in fighting Kavaliauskas (21-1-1, 17 KOs) led to him getting dropped in round 3, and buzzed on several occasions from hard right hands from the Lithuanian.
Crawford was ultimately able to beat Kavaliauskas at his own game by out-slugging him to score a knockout in the 7th round, but it wasn’t the type of performance you would expect from him. The 32-year-old Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs) views himself as the #1 pound-for-pound fighter, but the way he looked against Kavaliauskas and in his previous fight against Amir Khan, he doesn’t even look like he’s the #1 welterweight.
Ward: Crawford was knocked down and hurt by Kavaliauskas
“Terence Crawford didn’t box according to the game plan,” said Andre Ward to Fighthype. “He was supposed to box early, set the table, and try to eat midway in the fight, but sometimes as a fighter, you gotta get it the way you want to get it. Tonight, he [Crawford] got knocked down.
“He WON’T admit that he got knocked down, but he got knocked down, he got hurt a couple of times, and he made the adjustments, and showed why he’s No1 pound for pound in the sport [Crawford is #4 pound-for-pound, NOT #1,” said Ward in making a mistake in calling Crawford the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in boxing.
Ward might not be following the pound-for-pound rankings, but Crawford has been demoted from #2 to #4 in Ring Magazine’s pound-for-pound ratings. In their welterweight rankings, Crawford is #2 behind #1 Errol Spence Jr. However, Crawford is with ESPN, and Ward is a commentator for them. Spence fights on Fox for Premier Boxing Champions.
It’s troubling that Crawford wouldn’t admit that he was knocked down by Kavaliauskas. The entire world saw Crawford’s knees buckle after he was nailed by a right hand in round 3, and he looked hurt. Hopefully, Crawford doesn’t wind up as one of those fighters in denial when he starts losing in the future.
Terence is getting older, and he’s not going to be able to keep winning for long. Crawford’s best hope of keeping his unbeaten record is if Top Rank continues to have problems finding quality opposition to match him against. Sadly, Crawford has gone his entire 11-year professional career without him facing one high caliber opponent. If Top Rank keeps Crawford on the same match-making course, he could stay unbeaten for the remainder of his career.
Crawford chose a different way to get a knockout
“I don’t play that game where just because he’s the mandatory that Crawford is going to walk through him,” said Ward about Kavaliauskas. “I never said that, and I never felt that for one second. I saw Crawford fighting a little bit different to get the knockout, but I didn’t think he was going to make it that hard. But I knew that Kavaliauskas was the real deal.
“When you have a guy like that with 300 amateur fights sometimes he [Kavaliauskas] fights down to the level of the competition. Ray Robinson was NOT even a contender, so he fought down to the level of the competition. Plus, Ray Robinson is slick. He’s a southpaw, he’s long, and I thought Kavaliauskas would fight better tonight,” said Ward.
Teofimo Lopez’s spectacular win put pressure on Crawford to perform
Crawford had very little choice but to change his normal style of fighting last Saturday. The reason being that Teofimo Lopez put HUGE pressure on him in stopping IBF lightweight champion Richard Commey in round 2 in their co-feature bout. Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) is also signed with Top Rank Boxing, and he’s seen as someone on the cusp of superstardom.
If Crawford had fought with his normal counter-punching, safety-first style of fighting, he would have been upstaged in a HUGE way by Lopez. As it was, Crawford was upstaged anyway by Teofimo. It took 7 rounds for Crawford to beat a guy that he was supposed to blow out, and he was dropped along the way. In contrast, Teofimo smashed Commey in knocking him out in round 2.
Ward believes there’s nothing stopping PBC fighters from facing Crawford
“No one else is going to step up,” said Ward when asked his thoughts on Crawford and Shawn Porter possibly facing each other in 2020. “Shawn Porter, he’s looking for all smoke. He and Kenny, his father, they get in tip top shape, they win some and they lose some, but you’ve got to respect him. Shawn Porter doesn’t have a little bit of throwback in him.
“He has a lot of throwback in him, and I respect that,” said Ward in calling Porter a “throwback.” “They’re going to have to,” said Ward when asked if Porter and Crawford will need to put their friendship to the side in order to face each other. “Listen, I’m not going to matchmake tonight. I’ve talked about it before. Fights are not hard to make. Exhibit A, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.
“Fighters today, not all fighters today, they want their right before they take care of their duty,” said Ward. “Their duty is to build their name up, and face the best competition you can. I’m not saying you can’t have a tune-up here and there, but ultimately, you face the best competition,” said Ward.
Using the Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury rematch as an example of it being easy to setup a fight between a PBC and Top Rank fighter is a bad example by Ward. What he fails to see is that Fury and Wilder fought the first time BEFORE Tyson was signed with Top Rank.
Ward: Crawford is calling everybody out
They had a rematch already signed at that time. So when Fury inked with Top Rank earlier this year, the rematch with Wilder was ALREADY set from before he signed with them.
You can’t use the Wilder vs. Fury 2 fight as an example of it being possible to set up a fight between a PBC and Top Rank fighter.
“Then you do it again, and then you start to have your right with your name, and have your name mentioned with the all time greats, and be able to say, ‘I’m the next Floyd Mayweather,'” said Ward in talking about Crawford needing to fight better opposition. “But until you face real competition, you can’t say that. But to Crawford, he’s doing what he’s supposed to do.
“It’s like a laughing matter now where people are pointing to Crawford, saying, ‘You don’t have anybody to fight,'” said Ward. “Well, he’s doing what he’s supposed to do. He just stopped his mandatory, and he’s calling for anybody that’s willing to step up. That sounds like a guy that should be at the top of the list, and that sounds like a guy with a lot of throwback in him,” said Ward.
It doesn’t matter that Crawford is calling out everybody. He’s fighting for a different promoter and on a different network than the PBC fighters, who compete on Fox and Showtime. Crawford should have known from history the type of opponents he would be facing when he initially signed with Top Rank, and then re-upped with them. It’s the same thing with PBC.
When you sign with them, you’re going to be fighting their guys. Crawford is fighting the Top Rank guys, and he seems frustrated. The ESPN commentators Ward and Tim Bradley also seem frustrated as well.
Kavaliauskas dropped Crawford – Kellerman
“It was obviously a knockdown,” said Max Kellerman to Fighthype about Crawford being dropped by Kavaliauskas. “Crawford came out and wasn’t doing the things. You don’t just get to do what you want. You’ve got to make the moves like you’re playing chess.
“You’ve to dominate the middle of the board, and then you can look for your combinations,” Kellerman said in pointing out that Crawford fought in a reckless manner. “It’s the same thing in boxing. You’ve got to do the things, make the boxing moves that set up you being able to do whatever you want. But Crawford skipped that part. So he would move in as a southpaw, and Kavaliauskas was timing him, and hitting him with a right hand.
“He hit him with a right hand, a clean knockdown, and at that point, I had Kavaliauskas up two rounds to one with a knockdown,” said Kellerman in describing the problems Crawford had. “That was that, and Crawford got up off the deck, and stubbornly wasn’t even going to change out of the southpaw stance, where he was getting hit with the right hand. He was showing him, ‘I’m going to stay with this exact same thing, and beat you up and knock you out,’ which he did. He [Crawford] got buzzed again a couple of times after that,” said Kellerman.
Crawford should have changed from his southpaw stance to an orthodox stance after he was dropped by Kavaliauskas in the 3rd. He chose to be stubborn about it by sticking it out using his southpaw stance, and this led to him eating right hands from Kavaliauskas.
Other welterweights might want to fight Crawford now
“He got hit with right hands and exchanges,” Kellerman said in pointing out that Crawford was getting tagged by Kavaliauskas. ‘Eventually when he switched to right hands, and started to beat him up for a minute, he got hit with a left hook that he didn’t like, and he switched back to southpaw. Kavaliauskas went to the Olympics, he’s undefeated, and he was the mandatory. He can handle himself, and he can punch, but Crawford is a great fighter in his prime.
“That’s actually the kind of performance that will start to make other fighters brave,” said Kellerman in sounding hopeful that the top welterweights not signed with Top Rank will want to fight Crawford now. “He looked a little too mean for guys until now. Usually guys have a performance like that, then suddenly other fighters in the division, that haven’t wanted to fight him, fight him. So hopefully, that’s the case,” said Kellerman.
“It’s obvious,” said Kellerman when asked about his thoughts of Crawford and Porter fighting each other. “When GGG was getting ducked by everyone or at least when it was hard to make fights for him at middleweight, we all knew who was out there that would fight him. Canelo fought Austin Trout, and he fought Erislandy Lara when he was the money man. This guy is not afraid. So everyone started calling for Canelo,” said Kellerman.
It’s not about the other welterweights suddenly showing interest in fighting Crawford after his lackluster performance against Kavaliauskas. Even if the other fighters wanted to, they wouldn’t face Crawford because he fights on another network as them. Besides that, Crawford chooses to fight southpaw, and fighters don’t like to fight those guys. Crawford compounds by being counter puncher, who moves a lot.
Does Crawford deserve #1 pound-for-pound status?
“Shawn Porter is the guy on the other side of the street, making sure to name check Crawford, because he fights everyone, and he gives everyone hell, by the way,” Kellerman continued. “This is the kind of guy Shawn Porter is that everyone assumes that that’s the guy that makes the fight [against Crawford].
“It’s an interesting question, and does it solidify him #1 pound-for-pound?” said Kellerman when asked if his fight against Kavaliauskas makes him the #1 welterweight in the division.
“You can look at it two ways. He fought a guy and beat him on not his best in a way,” Kellerman said about Crawford. “If Kavaliauskas could choose a way for Crawford to fight, he would have chosen that. That gives Kavaliauskas his best chance to win. Crawford fought that way, and Kavaliauskas fought as well as he could, and Crawford still beat him up and knocked him out.
“So does that elevate him in your mind?” said Kellerman. “Or when you compare him to the other best welterweights, do you think, ‘Is he a little more vulnerable than he was in the best? When you compare him to Lomachenko, do you give him extra credit for showing that or do you say, ‘Wait a minute, that’s not quite as dominant as we’re used to seeing Crawford, and we need to take him down a little bit,'” said Kellerman.
No, Crawford doesn’t deserve number 1 pound-for-pound for what he’s done at 140 and 147. His wins at welterweight have come against these fighters:
- Jeff Horn
- Amir Khan
- Jose Benavidez Jr.
- Egidijus Kavaliauskas
Basically, Crawford ticks all the boxes for being the type of fighter that guys DON’T want to fight.
Crawford needs to prove he can beat GREAT fighters
“In my view, Crawford has now shown all the elements of a great fighter,” said Kellerman. “Now all that’s left is for us to see him fight another great fighter, and come through under those circumstances. He’s fought good fighters, and he’s cleaned out the division south of welterweight, but now he’s in a division with really excellent fighters.
“We’ve got to see him come through in those fights. It’s not enough for us to just imagine he can do it. He’s got to do it,” said Kellerman about Crawford.
In a perfect dream world, Crawford would have the chance to fight all the PBC fighters, and he would beat them all to show he’s the best at 147 on the planet. This isn’t a perfect world unfortunately, and boxing is run more like the old AFL vs. NFL leagues.
Crawford is like an AFL team trying to get games against NFL teams, and it’s not happening. Crawford can pick off a PBC fighter like Amir Khan every now and then, but he’s not able to get the guys that he wants to fight. These are the big 5 that Crawford and Top Rank wants:
- Errol Spence Jr.
- Shawn Porter
- Manny Pacquiao
- Keith Thurman
- Danny Garcia
The talented Vergil Ortiz Jr. will soon be part of that list, as he’s the future of the welterweight division.