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Terence Crawford vs. Egidijus Kavaliauskas this Saturday on ESPN

Image: Terence Crawford vs. Egidijus Kavaliauskas this Saturday on ESPN

By Kenneth Friedman: Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs) is making his third defense of his WBO welterweight title this Saturday, December 14 against his mandatory challenger Egidijus ‘Mean Machine’ Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KOs) on ESPN at Madison Square Garden in New York. (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m PT.)

This isn’t the fight that Crawford and his promoters at Top Rank Boxing wants for him. This is a mandatory situation, and it’s unavoidable for Crawford. He has to get the two-time Olympian Kavaliauskas out of the way so that he can go after the bigger fights at 147.

This is supposed to be an easy win for Crawford, but you never know. He’s 32 now, and he could get old overnight. Crawford’s last opponent Amir Khan had success in landing a number of clean shots on him last April, and that was unusual to see the Nebraska native getting hit.

Arum wants Crawford to face Porter or Spence in 2020

Top Rank boss Bob Arum wants to match Crawford against Shawn Porter and Errol Spence Jr., but it’s going to be tough to make those matches. Spence is recovering from a car crash last October, and he’s not expected to be put in risky fight in his first fight back.

Crawford is ranked #2 in Ring Magazine’s pound-for-pound listing. He’s considered by many as one of the best fighters in boxing. Critics argue that Crawford hasn’t fought any of the talented fighters at 147 yet, and he never fought any of the best at 140 when competed in that weight class. It’s difficult for boxing fans to rate how good Crawford is given the level of opposition he’s faced.

At welterweight, Crawford has beaten these guys:

  • Jeff Horn
  • Amir Khan
  • Jose Benavidez Jr.

Those are all fringe level welterweights, and not considered the best. Although Horn (19-2-1, 13 KOs) was the WBO 147-lb champion last year in June 2018 when Crawford stopped him in the 9th round, he was viewed as a paper champion. Horn won the WBO title with a controversial 12 round decision over Manny Pacquiao in Brisbane, Australia in 2017.

Many boxing fans believe that Pacquiao was robbed in that fight, and should have been given the win. Other fans point out there Horn got away with a lot of fouling of Pacquiao without being penalized or disqualified.

Crawford not getting the big names to fight him

Crawford hasn’t fought any of the talented welterweights yet since moving up in weight, and that makes it difficult to rate how good he is. Given the politics in boxing that go on between rival networks and promoters, Crawford is in a situation where it’s hard for him to get the fights he wants. Other promoters aren’t willing to take risks putting their top welterweights in with Crawford, because they don’t know it will end.

Crawford’s best opposition at 140:

  • Julius Indongo
  • Felix Diaz
  • John Molina Jr.
  • Viktor Postol
  • Henry Lundy
  • Dierry Jean
  • Thomas Dulorme

Those fighters aren’t recognized as being elite level light welterweights at this point. Some boxing fans believe Crawford purposefully left the 140 pound division when Josh Taylor, Jose Ramirez and Regis Prograis were emerging as threats to his reign. There’s no question that those fighters are more talented than the fighters that Crawford beat during his time at 140.

Richard Commey vs. Teofimo Lopez – co-feature

In the chief support on the card, IBF lightweight champion Richard Commey (29-2, 26 KOs) is making his second defense of his title against mandatory Teofimo Lopez (14-0, 11 KOs). The winner of the Commey vs. Lopez fight will be taking on WBA/WBC/WBO lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko next year for the undisputed 135-lb championship.

Some argue that the Commey-Teofimo fight is merely picking the next victim for Lomacheno. The 22-year-old Teofimo has the power and the youth to give the 31-year-old Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) huge headaches if that fight happens. Lomachenko will be turning 32 in February, and he’s not a young 32. He’s aging, slowing down, and getting hit a lot more than he ever did. Teofimo might be able to out-tough Lomachenko, and break down the older fighter.

Commey is an advanced fighter for Teofimo to be facing, and he’s going to need to out-brawl him to win. Brawling is how Teofimo prefers to fight, and it’s possible that he’ll do well against the 32-year-old Commey.

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There’s a good chance Commey vs. Lopez will upstage the main event fight between Crawford and Kavaliauskas. It’s a more evenly matched fight, and it’s between two guys that will be looking to punch it out. Crawford is more of a defensive fighter, who does all he can to not get hit. As such, Crawford’s fight against Kavaliauskas might not be that thrilling to watch compared to the co-feature bout.


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