There are two modes of thinking on the big lightweight title fight taking place in Glasgow between champion Ricky Burns of Scotland and Terence Crawford of Omaha, Nebraska. The hype surrounding the challenger Crawford has been a majority of positive takeaway in regards to his boxing skills, defensive ability, and punching power. He has been likened to the great Pernell Whitaker, and that comparison doesn't seem so far fetched given Crawford's movements and defensive maneuvers mirror that of the great Virginia technician and hall of fame fighter.
For Ricky Burns however two lackluster outings against Crawford's promotional stable mate Raymundo Beltran and Puerto Rican skill merchant Jose Gonzales has many on both sides of the pond spelling an inevitable defeat for the Coatbridge man.
There are quite a few fans from Scotland and the UK however who are using a bit of history to put this fight into a perspective that would understandably give their man the edge: On March 4th, 2006 super middleweight legend Joe Calzaghe sought to unify his WBO 168 lb title with hyped up American power puncher Jeff "Left Hook" Lacy who held the IBF title at 168 lbs.
This is the fight most often referred to by fans across the Atlantic since the build up of the match between Burns and Crawford. They are convinced, those who use this comparison, that Crawford is but an over hyped American fighter who will get exposed on Saturday, while Ricky Burns will prove he's more than what he showed against Beltran and Gonzalez, and that his career in general is worthy of serious HOF consideration.
However there are key points at play here and none of them spell out a related link between the hype and skill of Jeff Lacy and that of Terence Crawford. Crawford isn't just some muscular one dimensional bomber like Lacy but instead possesses a lot more technical ability and has proven thus far to be one of the more well schooled and legitimate prospects in boxing. He can do everything Lacy, even at his peak simply could never do from the standpoint of pure boxing skills and capability. Crawford is more defensive, more accurate, better at judging distance, fights a lot better in the pocket, and seems to have a grasp of his surroundings the way many young unproven fighters do not. His ring generalship and IQ are also something that really stands out when you talk about how good the young Omaha lightweight is and can be.
However, that one question will remain until the final bell on Saturday night, which ever round that will be. Is Terence Crawford everything we here in the United States believe and say he is? Can he not only lift the WBO title from Ricky Burns but unify the division, and perhaps become its first lineal and undisputed champion since Juan Manuel Marquez in 2010 (Marquez held the WBO, WBA, IBO, and The Ring 135lb titles).
From a pure fan perspective I hope Crawford can come through this fight because sometime this year I really want to see Crawford-Garcia at 135 as I believe both men will ultimately rule the division. I know Terence Crawford beat Mikey Garcia in the amateurs but to see a rematch between these two fantastic boxers with two belts on the line as well as a claim to lightweight supremacy is something I'm really hoping will happen before the year is out.
Ever since Terence Crawford's name was floating around as a likely mandatory challenger to Ricky Burns I've fancied that fight for him. I just thought Terence had all the tools needed to beat someone like Ricky, despite the fact that Ricky is a good boxer in his own right. And I suspect Burns' promoter Eddie Hearn felt Crawford would be a high risk for Ricky, which is why he tried to sidestep that fight even as the WBO officially installed Crawford as the mandatory. Of course Eddie Hearn has changed his tune, as he believes Ricky will win on Saturday; but I'm not sure he believes what he tells the media.
I really believe Hearn's initial feelings toward Crawford now are the same he had about Crawford when he was being talked about as a potential opponent. This was exactly the fight Eddie Hearn was trying to run away from: Ricky Burns vs Terence Crawford.