Can a win over Pacquiao make Crawford Vs. Spence happen?
By Ronan McIlhennon: I know what you’re thinking, not this again, not more will they won’t they talk. It has to happen this year. Yeah, both fighters want it, time to see who is the best. Fans have heard it all now.
The Terence Crawford (37-0,28KOs) Vs. Errol Spence Jr (26-0,21KOs) rumors have played out for years like a bad soap opera, leaving the boxing community flicking through the TV listings to see what else is on.
Of course, we still dream of it, but we are tired of hearing the same old monotonous talk that never leads to anything. However, things could be about to change. The eight-weight great Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2,39KOs) is looking for a partner for what could be his final dance and has the division’s elite set in his sights. Senior boxing writer for The Athletic Lance Pugmire describes a breakfast he attended with Pacquiao and the great Mexican warrior Eric Morales where the two legends agreed that they could never accept a “light touch” on the way to retirement, and the Filipino superstar is not short of options. One potential match-up being considered is a clash with Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford in Abu Dhabi on June 5th.
Failing to break into the mainstream, Crawford has been criticized at times for his level of opposition. However, the Omaha native has been calling out the standout names in the welterweight division for some time now. Along with Spence Jr, Crawford called out the newly crowned WBC champion Danny Garcia in 2016 on social media, with the Philadelphia fighter inviting Crawford to get his promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank to contact his promoter Al Haymon of PBC. Nothing came of it. Keith Thurman said that Crawford needed to make himself relevant in the welterweight division when asked about a potential match-up in 2016. The Pacquiao fight itself was first mentioned as far back as 2014. Speaking about PBC, Crawford says, “I don’t know the problem with those guys over there. Everybody knows I want the biggest fights in the welterweight division. Everyone knows I want to fight the other champions. So I cant make them fight me.” A serious man outside the ring with a ruthless streak in it, ‘Bud’ prefers to let his fists do the talking. A lack of glamour and marketable personality has meant that the marquee names have eluded him so far. However, if the Filipino Senator does select his name, ‘Bud’ will finally have his global platform to showcase his skills.
Brian “Bo-Mac” McIntyre, trainer and co-manager for Crawford, has likened the match-up to Pacquiao’s destruction of six-weight world champion great Oscar De La Hoya in 2008. “Oscar was man enough to accept Manny’s challenge. It’s part of the cycle of life in boxing, handing off the torch to the successor. Terence only lacks the opportunity to take over the spot that Manny and Floyd Mayweather used to hold as the pound-for-pound star of the sport.” Crawford values himself number one not only of the welterweight division but also the pound-for-pound list, and as number one, he does not see the need for him to be chasing other fighters. They should be queueing up to challenge him for his crown, although this has never been the case, and according to close friend and ESPN boxing analyst Timothy Bradley Jr, ‘Bud’ will not budge. “That’s just him, and he’s not going to change for anybody.” Spence Jr, on the other hand, has none of these same problems. Being aligned with Al Haymon of PBC, they have a vast amount of creditable high-profile names for the Texan to square off against. Without breaking a sweat, they could easily make match-ups for Spence Jr against the likes of Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter (rematch), Danny Garcia (rematch), or Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas. Even Manny Pacquiao is signed with PBC, so that is a fight that could be made.
In his last outing in December, the first since his horrific car crash the year before, Spence Jr was applauded for his fabulous display against hard-hitting and fellow PBC fighter Danny Garcia. With Crawford in attendance, Spence Jr glossed over the potential dream bout when asked by stating it is Crawford who needs him, not vice versa. The Texan native does have a point when it comes to his record. His résumé boasts wins over high-profile stars such as Danny Garcia, Mikey Garcia, and Shawn Porter, compared to Crawford’s, whose biggest name is arguably a washed-up Amir Khan. Although Crawford says the same about Spence Jr and boasts world titles in three different weight classes, including the undisputed junior welterweight championship, “I’ve accomplished so much in the sport of boxing that I don’t really need him.” Both fighters can not be accused of being great self-promoters of this fight, and neither can the men behind them. Crawford and his promoter Top Rank have been at loggerheads with each other about the trajectory of his career for several years now, with ‘Bud’ claiming he has had to take pay cuts in certain fights and that Top Rank and Arum have not given his fights the same promotional backing as they had done with other fighters in their stable. Arum and Top Rank countered, claiming they have lost money on Crawford’s fights and claim that ‘Bud’ has not helped himself by refusing interviews with massive platforms and was not very accomplished at spreading the message about his skills. Crawford feels that this is the job of the promoter. PBC and Al Haymon passed up the chance to shine some light on the potential clash themselves when they left the WBO champion who fights on ESPN for rival promoter Top Rank out of a highlight reel of the best welterweights in the division.
Spence Jr knows he has the comfort of the AT & T Stadium and his big home following to help take his career to the next level, and there is no doubt it is Crawford’s image that needs kickstarting. Maybe the Pacquiao fight is just the boost in the arm it needs. If Crawford is able to land the fight with the Filipino superstar, never before would he have had a better platform to broadcast his skills. The global promotion, even in this time of uncertainty, will dwarf any previous show Crawford has been involved in by some way. A dominant possibly stoppage win over a modern-day great will not damage Pacquiao’s reputation much, but it would be the best possible self-promotion that Crawford could ask for. It will attract a lot of attention from casual fans not yet aware of him and wake up the more hard-core to what we have at the moment. We have seen it happen too many times before, waiting for the best to fight the best. Do we wait another five years as we did for Mayweather Vs. Pacquiao? The sport of boxing needs match-ups like these more than ever at the moment. It’s about time we start shifting the attention from YouTube and exhibition fights to the best fighting the best. Let’s hope that Crawford can get his breakout fight, and crowd pressure can get us the one we really want.
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