Saturday, May 27, 2017

Will Crawford Face Pacquiao-Horn Winner Next?

On May 20th at Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY undefeated unified WBO/WBC Jr. Welterweight world champion Terence Crawford displayed all of the skills and characteristics that have made the Omaha, NE native a two-division world champion. In what was the fifth defense of his unified Jr. Welterweight crown, Crawford battered top contender Felix Diaz over ten rounds to retain his position as the consensus number one fighter in the 140. Jr. Welterweight division.

The skills of Crawford's hand speed, lateral movement, and punching power were the story of the fight as the champion got the better of his opponent in every round battering Diaz, the 2008 Jr. Welterweight Olympic Gold medalist before the fight was stopped by Diaz’ corner at the conclusion of the tenth round. Despite his pedigree and having given former world champion Lamont Peterson all he could handle in a hard fought loss in October 2015. Crawford was simply too much for Diaz, who showed his mettle in defeat.

As for the characteristics Crawford also displayed in this fight, they are the type of characteristics that are often associated with great fighters that have served Crawford well in his career thus far. Crawford not only has natural athletic ability, but what has been most troublesome for most of his opponents and what this observer feels makes him even more of a difficult challenge for his opposition is the systematic approach he uses in virtually every fight in looking to see what his opponent offers and then implementing a strategy that sees him gradually take control of the fight by cutting off the ring and strategically placing his punches with the intent of breaking the opponent down  rather than simply looking to overwhelm his opposition with his hand speed and/or power.

In his fight against Felix Diaz, Crawford showed this approach and although Diaz was able to periodically land a flush punch on the champion, Crawford had an answer for anything the challenger had to offer. As the bout progressed the combat began to resemble most of Crawford's previous fights. Crawford being extremely accurate with his offense and gradually administering a beating to a very “Game”, but overmatched opponent.

The victory over Diaz for Crawford, his thirty-first win in as many fights not only allowed him to retain his position as the central figure of the Jr. Welterweight division, but perhaps more importantly depending on one's perspective allows him to remain in position to potentially challenge future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao in the future. As most Boxing fans know however, Pacquiao, the current WBO Welterweight world champion is scheduled to defend that championship in Australia on July 2nd.

Although Crawford appears to be the logical option for the winner of that fight in what would be a move up in weight to the 147lb. Welterweight division, as readers might recall prior to Crawford's encounter with Diaz that this observer stated that Crawford could be the next dominant Jr. Welterweight champion, despite the potential of more lucrative opportunities outside of the division. In the week since Crawford's latest title defense, I have thought about two possible scenarios if a fight with the winner of Pacquiao-Horn is not in the cards for Crawford.

The first option would be for Crawford to attempt to further unify the Jr. Welterweight division by facing undefeated unified IBF/IBO/WBA Jr. Welterweight world champion Julius Indongo in what would be a fight to determine the first undisputed Jr. Welterweight world champion in the history of the sport. Even though many of the dominant Jr. Welterweight champions throughout history have all at one time or another looked to the Welterweight division and beyond for more lucrative opportunities, this would be a viable option due to the fact that one of the two undefeated champions would walk away as the undisputed champion of the division, which would also likely increase the chances of either fighter gaining a lucrative opportunity at a higher weight.

The second option if Crawford is more intent on testing the waters of the Welterweight division could be for him to look to challenge the winner of today’s IBF world Welterweight championship fight between champion Kell Brook and undefeated challenger Errol Spence. As to which option is the most viable/logical of the two, this observer believes Crawford may be better served to seek the undisputed Jr. Welterweight world championship possibly before the end of 2017 before setting his sights on the Welterweight division. Much like Crawford, Julius Indongo is a highly skilled fighter who may not be as well known due to his never fighting in the United States.

Indongo however, scored a dominant victory in adding the World Boxing Association (WBA) crown to his unified championship over former three-division world champion Ricky Burns in April. Coincidentally, Crawford also holds a victory over Burns in winning his first world championship in March 2014. Whether or not this coincidence would be used as a comparison if a fight between Crawford and Indongo is made remains to be seen, but it is clear that Terence Crawford has options which could be on the table outside of an encounter with the winner of the Pacquiao-Horn clash. It will simply come down to which option Crawford chooses to pursue.  For now, Boxing fans and experts alike await the next chapter in the career of the undefeated two-division world champion.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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