By Rich Cheney: WBC/WBO light welterweight champion Terence Crawford (31-0, 22 KOs) said on Thursday that as soon as he moves up to welterweight, he wants to face WBA/WBC champion Keith “One Time” Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) in his first fight in that weight class.
Crawford, 29, says he wants to fight the best right away at 147, and he feels that the 28-year-old Thurman is the guy to fight in that weight class.
Before Crawford can move up in weight, though, he’s still got to take care of business this Saturday night on August 19 in his unification fight against IBF/WBA light welterweight champion Julius “Blue Machine” Indongo (22-0, 11 KOs) in their fight on ESPN and ESPN Deportes from the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.
“He’s the number one guy in the welterweight division,” said Crawford about Keith Thurman at Thursday’s final press conference. “Why take No.2, 3 or whatever? When I go to welterweight, I want the number 1 guy at welterweight, right away,” said Crawford.
It’s too bad Crawford isn’t going to get a fight against Thurman in his first fight at 147 or even his third fight. Crawford is on the other side of the promotional fence just like Tim Bradley was. He too wanted to fight popular guys that are not signed with Top Rank, but unfortunately those fights didn’t happen for him. Bradley ended up fighting the Top Ran promoted Pacquiao 3 times, Jessie Vargas and Brandon Rios. Those are all Top Rank fighters. Bradley wanted to fight Mayweather, but he’s not with Top Rank.
It might not be the smartest thing for Crawford to go straight up to 147 and face a guy with Thurman’s punching power and hand speed. Crawford had his bell run in the past 3 years when he fought Yuriorkis Gamboa, and that was against a former featherweight. Since that fight, Crawford has fought limited slow guys like Viktor Postol, John Molina Jr., Felix Diaz, Dierry Jean, Raymundo Beltran, Ricky Burns and Henry Lundy. None of those fighters are in the same league as Thurman. Crawford has to fight smart if he’s going to have any chance of beating Thurman. The only way for Crawford to do that is to get experience first when he moves up in weight to 147.
Can Top Rank match Crawford against Thurman?
Crawford would love to fight Thurman when he first moves up to welterweight, but I don’t think he fully understands the road blocks that would prevent that fight from happening. Crawford is with Top Rank, and Thurman, 28, is managed by Al Haymon. He rarely does business with Top Rank. When fights get made, it’s not common for the two to work together. They obviously have worked to put together fights in the past like Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao, but it’s not all that common.
As much as Crawford would like to fight Thurman when he does eventually move up in weight in the near future, I don’t see it happening. It helps Crawford’s boxing career for him to name drop Thurman’s name as much as possible, especially now that he’s about to fight Indongo on ESPN this Saturday. If the boxing fans believe that there’s a chance for a fight between Thurman and Crawford, they’ll be more likely to want to tune in and watch Crawford fight Indongo on Saturday night on ESPN. If those same fans continue to watch Crawford’s fights in the future thinking that he’s going to be fighting Thurman soon it will help increase his popularity the sly way by giving the boxing public false hope that they’ll soon be seeing the Crawford vs. Thurman fight.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao talked constantly about a fight between them for 6 solid years from 2009 to 2015 before they finally faced each other in 2015. For those 6 years, Mayweather and Pacquiao brought in a ton of PPV buys each time they fought. It’s believed that the boxing public kept purchasing their fights because they were being strung along, thinking that a fight between them was right around the corner and would happen next. When Mayweather and Pacquiao did fight in 2015, they shattered the previously existing PPV record of 2.4 million buys by bringing in 4.6 million buys. Once Mayweather and Pacquiao finally did fight, they both saw declining PPV numbers for every fight since then. You can argue that the boxing fans were no longer interested in paying to see Mayweather and Pacquiao’s dull mismatches once they had finally fought each other. It would be a real clever move on Crawford’s part if he starts talking up a fight between him and Thurman by name dropping his name as much as possible to get boxing fans interested in his own fights. Crawford will need to make adjustments if Thurman gets beaten in the near future by the likes of Errol Spence Jr. or Shawn Porter.
Crawford will have a very, very tough time with the speed and power or Thurman. Even if that fight does get made, I don’t see how Crawford is going to be able to handle Thurman’s blinding speed and power. Thurman starts to get tired by the 6th round, but he usually has such a big lead by that point that it’s nearly impossible to defeat him by a decision.
When Crawford does move up in weight to welterweight, he should build up slowly to the fight with Thurman by fighting these guys:
The problem that Crawford has once again is the promoters for most of those fighters aren’t going to want to match their fighters against Crawford, because he’s more of a boxer, who moves, holds and changes his fighting stance frequently. Crawford isn’t likely going to get more than 3 of those fighters to face him, and those are the guys that are inked with Top Rank. Crawford can probably get a fight against Ponomarev, Vargas, and Horn. Pacquiao isn’t likely to take a fight against Crawford, because he’s not a big name and he’ll very likely try and spoil for 12 rounds instead of making a fight of it.
Why would another promoter want to match their best fighters against a fighter that will be using spoiling tactics like Crawford will almost surely do? Crawford is not Mayweather in terms of popularity. Promoters don’t mind putting their best fighters in with Mayweather because of the money they get for these fights, and the high visibility. It helps the careers of fighters that face Mayweather because they’re seen by millions. In the case of Crawford, he’s not a big name and he’s likely never going to become a PPV fighter. Why would anyone want to fight him? The money isn’t there, and he’s likely going to run anyway.